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Matt, Senior Consultant

During the semester, we often have students from CST 390, the speaking center theory and practice class with us when we are doing consultations. In a consultation with one of our Interlink learners, I was working along with a CST 390 student to help the Interlink speaker learn more about using details when describing situations in conversation. This particular speaker needed more help with telling stories about events in his life when he would be potentially asked about such things in the future. My immediate response to this was to ask him what he enjoyed doing on campus most. His response was that he really enjoyed the cafeteria, and that he thought the food there was delicious. What happened next was seemingly unexpected for everyone in the room.

After I asked the student what he liked to eat at the cafeteria. He said he loved the chicken sandwich. I then responded asking him to tell me about his chicken sandwich. The speaker broke into laughter and the 390 student with us followed in laughter.

Everyone in the room was smiling at this point. The question, to the speaker I was working with, was out of the ordinary. The reason I asked this question was because explaining in detail how/why we like things is good practice for explaining in detail information in a step by step process.

After he explained to me what he liked on his chicken sandwich I asked him more about each item. What kind of bread do you prefer? How is the chicken prepared? The speaker then began to understand how specific my questions were becoming. I told him that when we are describing something it is good to go into detail about each part without moving too far away from the purpose of the question. I then began to ask the speaker about more things that he enjoyed around campus.

We discussed how he also enjoyed playing sports on campus. I gave a personal example from my past, trying to emphasize that personal examples can also provide effective detailing when speaking.

I shared that when I was younger I would pretend that I was a famous athlete like Larry Bird when I played basketball. In the end the speaker was still concerned about his abilities to speak, but he admitted that he was more confident and wanted to practice more. I told the speaker that we, at the Speaking Center, are here to help him and that if he wanted to continue to practice his speaking skills that he could come back to work with us.

In the end the speaker really enjoyed his chicken sandwich on a wheat bun with cheddar cheese, red peppers, and a piece of grilled chicken on it. He really liked his grilled chicken with the honey barbeque sauce on it, because it added a bit of sweet heat to the flavor. He also liked the peppers on the sandwich for their spicy flavor.

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