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Public Speaking Skills Labs offers students help with oral communication skills

Program organizers plan to expand PSSL workshops in fall 2014 semester

Binghamton University’s Public Speaking Skills Lab (PSSL) aims to help develop and enhance the oral communication skills of students.

PSSL workshops will be open to all students in the fall 2014 semester, and are designed to hold 20-30 students.

The PSSL program was started in fall 2012 by program coordinator Tyler Lenga and program director Debbie Clinton Callaghan with the Division of Student Affairs as a response to student, faculty and staff demand for more emphasis on communication and speaking development on campus.

The lab currently offers individualized and group consultations in the Chenango Champlain Collegiate Center, Room 101B on weekdays.

“We want all Binghamton University students to see the value and power of effective public speaking and communication skills,” Lenga wrote in an email. “Speech is not something [to] fear, it is quite the opposite actually, and we want students to know that we are to help them see that and reach their potential.”

PSSL launched a workshop series this semester, and has held workshops on breaking bad habits, visual aids, presentation anxiety, verbal delivery and group presentations. These cover everything from how to get rid of saying “um” and “like” to different communication styles for different audiences.

In the past, besides offering student consultations, PSSL would provide workshops for students who requested appointments, but couldn’t accommodate all of the students because they were testing out the series first. Lenga said that in the future the PSSL may include speaking competitions and biweekly or monthly mini-talks, and look for a larger operating space.

Gina Kim, a program assistant with the PSSL and a junior majoring in integrative neuroscience, said BU students across disciplines can benefit from the PSSL.

“The range of students that come for consultations are enormous,” Kim wrote in an email. “We get groups that are trying to prepare for a class presentation, commencement speakers that want criticism and video recordings, students that want impromptu questions, foreign students that just want to practice, and research assistants that are preparing for their symposiums.”

Alyssa Famolari, a program assistant and a junior double-majoring in English and Spanish, said the PSSL will help students learn vital skills for speaking and presenting.

“It is important for everyone to know that you won’t perfect these skills overnight or in an hour,” Famolari wrote in an email. “These things take time, patience, and practice! Students have left our lab and workshops knowing what is working for them, what things they need to work on, and an idea on how to fix them. You can’t lose anything from going. All you can do is learn something new and effective.”