Great speakers are active listeners, media executive says

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C.L. Cobb, vice president of operations for Myriad Global Media, shares his experiences as a former student at this college with speech students and how his persistence helped shape his future. Cobb spoke during a speech workshop Oct. 25 in the auditorium of McAllister. Aaron Garcia

The final speech workshop for the semester will be Nov. 14 in McAllister.

By Dillon Holloway

Knowing the differences between hearing and listening makes a great speaker and will ultimately help determine career success, a former student of this college and current vice president of a media production company said Oct. 25 in McAllister Fine Arts Center.

“You really only truly listen when you can internalize a message without letting interference alter the message,” C.L. Cobb, vice president of operations for Myriad Global Media, said to about 30 students during the fourth installment of the “Improve Your Public Speaking” workshop series sponsored by the fine arts department. 

The final workshop, featuring Helen Dear, president of Porter Loring Mortuaries, is 3-4 p.m. Nov. 14 in the auditorium of McAllister. The workshop is open to all students.

Cobb’s talk was labeled “Listening: the True Art of Communication.” 

Cobb attended this college 1992-95, and in 1994 was awarded the Phi Rho Pi National Championship in extemporaneous speaking. 

He worked as a sports television anchor, producer and director for stations KGNS-TV in Laredo, KMOL-TV in San Antonio; KBTV in Beaumont and KIFI-TV in Idaho Falls, Idaho. 

Cobb also worked as a communications specialist for Daniel Barrera & Associates 2005-2015. 

Cobb explained the difference between listening and hearing. 

The act of hearing is simply the act of allowing sound to enter the ear canal and register as a sense, he said. 

“Listening is something that you consciously choose to do. Listening requires concentration, encoding and filtering out interference.”

Cobb said personal bias is a form of internal interference.

“How many of you have heard of a guy named Donald Trump?” Cobb asked the audience.

“So how many of you, whether it is Twitter, something that you read, something you saw on television, or something that your friends told when they begin to go into the latest thing that the commander-in-chief has said or done, automatically you’re like ‘oh, that’s no good …’? A truly good listener will be able to listen to the message and begin to internalize it before they start to form opinions on it.’”

The skill of active listening is to evaluate all the information in a quick manner, Cobb said.

If someone allows their internalization to the first part of a message to cloud the actual message, they are missing the message as a whole, he said.

Cobb said the key to avoiding messages becoming clouded is to make an effort to properly internalize the entire message.

“The one part of the speech that I wish I could give you is a magic formula,” he said.

Cobb said actively listening comes down to the effort put forth by the individual.

Cobb challenged the audience to change the way they listen and to seek mentors.

“The best advice I can give you as you try to build your education and careers is to seek out mentors,” he said,

“The mentors aren’t going to seek you out, and as they give advice and criticism you have to have that extra concentration, encoding and effort to internalize their messages.”

Psychology sophomore Marco Guzman said he attended the workshop for the extra credit offered to students in speech classes but was happy with the results. 

“I wanted the extra credit, but I’m actually really happy that I came to this,” Guzman said in an interview after Cobb’s speech. 

Guzman, who performs in a local metal band, Lucid City, said he plans to incorporate active listening into his psychology studies and his music career.

Justin Blacklock, instructor of speech communication and director of forensics, coordinated the series of workshops.

Blacklock said he liked the way Cobb tied the business aspect into his speech.

“That’s why we are doing these guest speaker series — to not just have another teacher from the department doing a workshop but someone who is not only in the business community and has experience with how this looks in practice but also has experience here at SAC before going and putting it into practice.”

Cobb, along with the other guest speakers, is appearing at the workshops without charge to the college, Blacklock said. 

“They just do it out of the kindness of their hearts,” he said.

For more information on speech workshops, contact Blacklock at


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