Jessica Mehring at UCCS Multiliteracy Center

by | Speaking Engagements & Podcasts

UCCS Multiliteracy Center


Friday December 1, 2023

Speaking topic overview:

Claiming the role of guide in the hero’s journey

As consultants, our instinct is to be the hero — to come to the student’s rescue. But our greater calling is to be the mentor or guide. Using Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey framework as our lens, we will step into the role of wise mentor to help students become the hero of their own journey.

Recap of the event:

I was honored to be asked by the leadership team at the Excel Multiliteracy Center to come in and give a talk to the staff of consultants. This group of young professionals consult on writing, speaking, slide design, interview prep, and other communication tasks for the university — which means they’re serving students, faculty, and staff on projects that will make or break academic and professional careers. These consultants have a truly transformational role.

This was an incredible opportunity to help shape the minds of the next generation of communication consultants. From the moment I spoke with the leadership team back in October about the challenges these consultants face, I knew exactly what I wanted to impart.

I used Joseph Campbell’s “hero’s journey” storytelling framework as a lens, and spoke on how our clients are the heroes of their own journeys — and a consultant’s role is to be **the guide** on the hero’s journey. I gave three recommendations for how to make that transformation — and I used Luke Skywalker’s hero’s journey from Star Wars: A New Hope to illustrate my point, which was *so much fun*.

After my talk, a young woman asked me about my recommendation to let there be silence during conversations with clients, so clients have time to think. She asked, “How do I get clients to talk when the silence has gone on for a while? Is it okay to nudge them to answer the question?” I told her that while silence always feels awkward in these conversations, it feels a lot longer than it actually is — and I recommended that she count to 10, but work up to 20 seconds. Sometimes people just need a beat to process and think. If after that, the client is showing no signs of being ready to answer, then ask if they need the question rephrased.

Thanks to the leadership team at the Excel Multiliteracy Center for inviting me to come talk to the consulting staff. It was amazing to have the opportunity to share my decades of communication consulting wisdom, and impart some advice that I wish I’d had when I first set out in this career!

About the event:

The Excel Multiliteracy Center is the place at UCCS with the resources and knowledge to help you communicate in any medium, genre, or academic discipline. This an exclusive, staff-only event as they continue develop their skills as student mentors.

Book Jessica Mehring to speak at your next event.