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FAQs about Public Speaking Workshops

I’ve created hands-on workshops for business, government, education, and non-profit organizations, and would be honored to create one for your group, too! These FAQs will help you think about what kind of  workshop is right for your team.

1. What kind of public speaking workshops do you offer?

All Speak Up for Success workshops are highly interactive, with time for every participant to present to the group, get feedback, and improve their performance.

Workshop content (the materials we focus on) can be general or specific:

  • Skills-Building Workshops: These workshops cover general topics like best practices for being heard, how to create a presentation, how to develop your public speaking persona, and much more.
  • Content-Based Workshops: This is what you want when your team members are preparing for a specific public speaking challenge like an in-house conference or awards event, a pitch to investors, or when you want to concentrate on a particular topic area, such as:
    • Telling Your Story and Your Organization’s Story;
    • Talking to Senior Leaders;
    • Communications for Women;
    • Improving Your Listening Skills;
    • Leading Effective Meetings;
    • TED Talks for Business;
    • Writing workshops (including email etiquette, how to present written information so that it’s easy to respond to, etc.)
    • Workshops on executive presence for junior employees (how to build your professional image, acquire management skills, etc.)

2. Is there an ideal number of people for a workshop?

The trade-off with workshops is People vs. Time vs. Attention.

  • 50 people in a two-hour workshop means very little individual attention (but might still meet your particular needs)
  • 8 people in a four-hour workshop means lots of individual attention, but a smaller pool of people to learn from and observe.

Popular choices for workshops include:

  • 2-hour Workshops: Ideal for a group of 8-15 participants
  • 3 1/2-hour Workshops: Ideal for groups of 15-22 people
  • 6-hour Workshops: Ideal for up to 30 people, this workshop can also be delivered in 3-hour segments on consecutive days
  • For groups of more than 30, a 1-hour Keynote Speech can efficiently provide information, insights, and demonstrations of key public speaking techniques.

3. Can people with varying skill levels benefit from the same workshop?

If your team is respectful and supportive, a workshop with mixed levels can bring the team closer. But more competitive or critical groups do better when people are at similar levels of skill.

4. What’s the most important element of a successful workshop?

Trust. I work hard to establish that in the first few minutes, and to get everyone working together.

5. In what sense are your workshops customized?

As with one-on-one coaching sessions, I use the group’s actual work materials (a) to illustrate public speaking best practices and (b) as the content for workshop exercises and assignments. And in some cases, I’ll work with you to create entirely new content that is targeted to exactly what your participants need to learn.

I also customize things like the workshop’s level of formality/informality; the amount of explanation vs. experience, etc.

And since every workshop is delivered with sensitivity to the participant experience, that sometimes means customizing in real time to meet participants’ needs.

6. How can you teach people to communicate when you’re not an expert on what they do?

Workshops — again, like one-on-one coaching — are a collaboration in which I’m the communications expert, and your participants are experts on their industry and organization.

Often, workshop participants are learning how to communicate with “civilians” like me who don’t know their disciplines but need to understand core principles and issues.

And when that’s not the case (when you’re prepping to speak to an expert audience), I pick things up fast, and can critique discussions of highly technical content.

7. What are typical workshop activities?

Depending on the size of your group, the workshop’s length, and most importantly, your organization’s goals, your workshop activities might include:

  • Group discussions;
  • Individual, small group, and/or large group exercises;
  • A presentation on best practices;
  • Q & A, with participants raising the issues that concern them;
  • Time for each participant to write and deliver an Instant Speech, and more.

8. What’s the process for creating a custom communications workshop?

First, you and I will speak in detail about what you want this workshop to accomplish. We’ll discuss your organization’s culture, the skill levels and attitudes of your participants, and workshop logistics such as size, length, location, and budget.

I’ll then put together a plan that summarizes our discussion and offers my initial thoughts about what the workshop should include. If what I propose sounds right to you, we’ll set a date and take it from there.

9. Do you ever lead team-building workshops?

Yes, often.

For a straight-up communications workshop, the goal is to build participants’ individual skills.

In a team-building workshop, the goals are (a) to examine how participants communicate with each other, and (b) to help them do that better.

To meet those goals, team-building workshops, often involve exploring the four public speaking personalities and how they can help or hinder communication among people on a team.

10. Do you give “pre-work” assignments to prepare participants for workshops?

  • I rarely give pre-work for general communications workshops.
  • If I’m coaching for an event or group presentation, I may ask people to read several chapters of my book, Speak Like Yourself… No, Really! Follow Your Strengths and Skills to Great Public Speaking, and apply what they’ve learned to creating the presentations that we’ll refine and work on as a group.
  • For team-building workshops, I ask each participant to take the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) in advance, and if time and budget permit, to discuss their results with me by phone before the group meets as a whole.

11. What happens when managers or executives observe their direct reports’ workshops?

If your employees know that you’re there to support them, your presence can be of great value. But if they believe that a manager is there to judge and that they’ll be penalized for flaws or mistakes, they won’t take risks and consequently won’t learn as much.

12. Why bring everyone together for a workshop instead of coaching them individually?

The many benefits of group learning include:

  • Creating a shared body of knowledge, and a language for referencing best practices
  • Building team cohesion and trust through a satisfying and challenging experience
  • Setting common standards and expectations for how team members will perform
  • Seeing how others approach a challenge
  • Exploring a topic from multiple angles
  • Stressing the importance of a new skill by taking your whole team off-line to learn it

Still have questions about Customized Public Speaking Workshops? Want to book a Workshop for your Organization?

Contact me and we’ll set up a time to talk.

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