Thursday, June 23 2022

Public speaking is one of people’s greatest personal fears, and a new facility at UT’s College of Communication and Information provides tools to help students face their anxieties and become better communicators.

Communication studies seniors Morgan Kahle and Jack Wimbish prepare for the capstone project presentation at the Public Speaking Center.

the public speaking centerin Room 260 of the Communications Building, will have a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, November 2. The campus community is invited.

“Fear of public speaking is consistent across a number of studies,” said John Haas, associate professor and director of the School of Communication Studies. The center provides facilities and technology for students to practice and improve their skills.

Haas said the center has been in the works for almost three years.

It’s an example of how funds raised for the College’s communications and information campaign help provide state-of-the-art facilities for UT students. The college will kick off the public phase of its $15 million Journey to the Top fundraising campaign on Nov. 11.

Funding to renovate the suite of rooms and equip the public speaking center with technology was provided in part by a donation from football great Peyton Manning, who earned his bachelor’s degree in communication studies in 1997 and received the Hileman Distinguished Alumni award from the college in 2007.

A banner in the room will highlight Manning’s role in the creation of the center. Students will record short thank you messages for Manning during the event.

The center should be a widely used facility. The main users of the room will be the 1,750 students who take the 210 and 240 communication courses each year. About 90% of undergraduate students in all majors take these courses while at UT.

A practice bay in the Public Speaking Center equipped with a podium, microphone and camera.
A practice bay in the Public Speaking Center equipped with a podium, microphone and camera.

The center’s main hall is flanked by three practice bays equipped with podiums, microphones and cameras where users can practice giving speeches and record them for viewing and critique. Computers and monitors in the shared area provide a ready viewing area. The center also includes a presentation room with a large table and chairs, a computer, projector and screen, and a glass board.

Students, faculty, or staff who wish to use the facilities and receive public speaking coaching should drop by the center or contact Drew Stewart, director of the Public Speaking Center, at 974-4843 or

Haas said it’s important for those using the room to work with communication studies staff and mentors so they learn the right techniques before rehearsing.

“Practice doesn’t make perfect, but it makes permanent,” he said.

The Public Speaking Center is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.


Amy Blakely (, 865-974-5034)

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