Editor’s Note: This article is part of a series in which we highlight individuals and groups that are making a tremendous impact in the lives of their students and community. Know someone doing great things in the public speaking field that we should recognize? Let us know!
Dr. Erica Lamm is an assistant professor of communication and the assistant director of forensics at Concordia University Nebraska. Her passion for public speaking began in high school, when she was on the competitive speech team, an activity she is thrilled to work with at Concordia. Originally from a farm in Iowa, Dr. Lamm received her BA in communication from Luther College. At Luther, she took communication classes and thought about pursuing a career in speechwriting. She has been obsessed with Washington, DC since she took a trip there in high school. Her dream was to work as a professional speech writer for a senator.
However, her passion for teaching pulled her away from that career path. She earned her MA and PhD in communication from the University of Maryland, as well as an MBA from Concordia University.
Dr. Lamm works to incorporate public speaking into all the classes she teaches. For her public speaking classes, she has students complete four speeches, two of which are about experiences in human communication. Another speech her students complete is focused on professional business communication. As a Christian school, her Concordia students have the option to perform a homily as one of their required speeches.
As a teacher, she finds her students struggle with speech anxiety. To overcome this, she makes her students feel comfortable and safe. She starts her class with a low stakes opportunity to get their feet wet by speaking for 30 seconds. However, students cannot say the word “um.” Each time they let an “um” slip in the timer restarts. This unique approach helps build confidence in speaking while being an opportunity to learn about vocal fillers. Dr. Lamm believes that every student possesses the power to improve their public speaking skills. You can learn more about the 30 Seconds Without an Um here. In addition to the 30 second exercise, she has students recite famous speeches to help work on delivery skills.
Professionally, she is active in the International Listening Association (www.listen.org), for which she edits the journal Listening Education. She also speaks on the topics of listening and civil communication with her consulting business, Professors Institute for Professional Advancement (www.professorsinstitute.com). In addition to giving speeches, Dr. Lamm provides business and strategic planning services as well as CEU credit classes and workshops. Dr. Lamm also stays busy presenting at academic conferences such as the National Communication Association, which is another passion of hers.
You can reach Dr. Erica Lamm by email at Erica.Lamm@cune.edu.