Communication

We have partnered with the Virginia Tech Center for Communicating Science to bring you a series of unique workshops and bootcamps. These may be taught as stand-alone courses or combined in a package that suits your communication needs. For information on any of these programs, please contact Regional Outreach Program Manager David Conners at dconners@vt.edu or (540) 767-6145.

Explore the value of playful improvisation and serious games to help you establish more confident, more productive and more effective connections with all of your collaborators at work and in life.

What: Participants in this series of workshops will experience the value of embodied learning.  In “getting out of their comfort zones,” participants will efficiently and enjoyably learn the importance of clear objectives, listening and observing, building teams, leading from where they are, how to make work more like play, and how to make mistakes without punishing themselves.

Benefits: In this engaging and fun workshop series, participants will rediscover and strengthen skills of observation and responsiveness; increase their willingness to risk, fail, and risk again; increase their tools of personal communication including imagination, relaxation, observation, and concentration; and increase appreciation for the importance of connecting through sharing emotion. In addition, they will develop their appreciation of the communicative importance of voice and body.

Who should attend: Innovators, developers, collaborators. Anyone who feels stagnant in their work life or overly reliant on habitual communication patterns, and those who want to improve their networking skills.

When:  This is a three-part workshop of nine contact hours divided into three three-hour sessions on consecutive weeks.

Build muscles of personal resilience and imaginative innovation. If you’ve experienced the value of improvisation in our Art of Yes! workshop or as part of our graduate class in Communicating Science we know you’ll be interested in continuing to become more spontaneous, responsive and aware. This series is for you!

What: Participants in this ongoing series will deepen and expand their experience with improvisation in the company of other committed improvisers. Increasingly complex experiences will help participants grow in all kinds of important life skills while having a lot of fun with other committed improvisers.    

Benefits: In this open workshop series participant can take part in exercises that will build their muscles of imagination, concentration, observation, resilience, self-confidence, expressiveness, and more. Participants will build on skills they have developed as well as explore new opportunities.

Who should attend: Anyone who has completed the VT GRAD 5144 course or has taken the CCS Art of Yes! workshops.

When:  This is a five-day course that can meet weekly.

Many industry professionals have been told to “develop your elevator pitch.” This workshop provides the tools to prepare for brief and compelling interactions that may occur on an elevator or anywhere.

What: Participants in this experiential workshop will use exercises to help them move from “information overload” to authentic inspiration. We will explore the “5 w’s” of clear communication and learn how to develop spontaneity and overcome the “curse of knowledge.” Participants will refine their stories into messages that inspire curiosity and engagement.

Benefits: Participants will consider the interests of the people with whom they wish to engage.  They will learn to adjust their messages in response to these interests and will expand their ability to speak and write with emotion in concise, clear and appropriate messages that move the listener and spark curiosity. Each participant will leave the workshop with a greater ability to connect one-to-one in brief and effective communications.

Who should attend: Developers of presentations, outreach materials, or social media. For those in highly technical fields that need to build their networks or communicate to a public audience in presentations or abstracts.

When:  This is a three-hour workshop.

Are you comfortable with introduction, methods, results, and discussion—but not with essays, op-eds, letters to editors, blogs, or magazine writing? Then this two-part workshop on writing for a public audience is for you.


What: Participants in this hands-on workshop will explore the components of writing for the public and will practice translating technical and highly specialized material into pieces that are accessible to the wider world. Participants will explore the value of metaphor and emotion.


Benefits: Participants will write, revise and leave the workshop with a piece they've written that is relevant to their work and communication needs. We'll also explore possible publication venues and talk about the submission process.


Who should attend: Scientists, engineers and those in highly technical fields who desire to communicate more effectively in writing with the general public.

When: Two-part workshop of six contact hours divided into two three-hour sessions.

Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman once said that if he couldn’t prepare a freshman-level lecture on a topic, it meant he didn’t understand it himself. Kurt Vonnegut’s fictional Dr. Hoenikker, in Cat’s Cradle, says, “Any scientist who can’t explain to an eight-year-old what he is doing is a charlatan.” In this workshop we challenge you to get your research into 29 pages—with only a sentence or two per page—as a picture book for young children.



What: Participants in this experiential workshop will evaluate children’s science books and identify effective elements. Participants will learn about story, characters, sentence length and structure, word choice and more. Handouts will provide templates for structuring a picture book. Each participant will work on a picture book related to personal areas of research/work.



Benefits: Each participant will leave with a new understanding of how to make science accessible to the very young, a first draft of a picture book, templates and materials to use on future projects, and ideas and feedback from other participants. Bonus: once you can explain your research to a four-year-old, you'll be able to explain it to anyone.



Who should attend:
Scientists, engineers, teachers and anyone interested in “translating” their work in STEM fields into a picture book approach.



When: This is a three-hour workshop.

They say that the shortest distance between two people is a story. Stories that we tell about ourselves, our missions and our community shape how we understand the past and what we think is possible to achieve. For collaborative leaders, stories help connect the members of an organization with a common understanding of purpose. Strengthen your story skills in this engaging workshop.



What: In this workshop participants will explore several approaches to creating stories that connect with others, will learn about approaches to feedback (including Appreciative Inquiry and the Lerman Critical Response Process), and will share and iteratively refine stories to benefit their organizations and their communities.  

Benefits: The stories that a community shares can allow a deep and spontaneous understanding of complex issues. Learning to use the tools of storytelling can help leaders connect more effectively with their communities and motivate change. This workshop will enhance participants’ understanding of self and others, build awareness of given circumstances, strengthen listening skills, enrich abilities to give and receive feedback and develop abilities to construct a compelling narrative that might serve as a catalyst for change.

Who should attend: Leaders and aspiring leaders, team members, collaborators.

When: Two-part workshop of six contact hours divided into two three-hour sessions.

Do you panic at the thought of explaining your work to a journalist? Have you had an interaction with a reporter that left you feeling as if you had failed to communicate? This workshop provides helpful tips for those whose work gets the attention of the media.



What: Participants in this workshop will learn how to answer that initial call from a reporter and how to organize their thoughts and materials. They’ll be given useful strategies for getting their messages across clearly and learn about the path a news story follows from idea to publication.

Benefits: This workshop will help you help journalists to tell your story accurately and engagingly. Participants will leave with an understanding of the process from the reporter’s perspective and a set of tools to help them prepare for media interviews. Each participant will have an opportunity to practice responding to interviewer questions.

Who should attend: Those who need to be able to collaborate with the news media to get a story told effectively and accurately.

When: This is a three-hour workshop.

It is said that the thought of public speaking is more frightening to many people than death. Using role-play and improvisation, you will develop the self-confidence and audience awareness required to deliver presentations that have memorable impact.



What: Participants in this experiential workshop will explore the seven aspects of presentations and will learn how to refine and strengthen their listening skills, non-verbal communication, spontaneity and responsiveness in order to connect with audiences at conferences, poster presentations and large gatherings. Participants will learn how to handle nerves both before and during presentations. They will learn methods for effective storytelling, how to prepare and warm up and how to keep audience focus.



Benefits: Each participant will develop confidence and will learn more effective non-verbal skills and approaches to audience engagement. Each participant will create a recorded video of a brief presentation that they can use on websites, social media or as a video abstract for academic papers.



Who should attend: Leaders and managers, professionals, teachers and those simply interested in developing self-confidence and communication skills.

When: Extended workshop of eight contact hours divided into two four-hour sessions.

Understanding the perspectives of others is increasingly important in our world; 85 percent of job success comes from well-developed soft skills. The ability to understand and empathize with others is often seen to be the most valuable of these skills.



What: In this participatory workshop you will learn approaches to authentic listening, transformational empathy, understanding others’ perspectives and building trust. You will increase your intercultural and interdisciplinary awareness, sensitivity and understanding. You will become more capable of recognizing and addressing perceptual differences, contrasting points of view or competing objectives in relational conversations. You will explore the value of conflict in collaborative relationships and learn to recognize when a particular approach to communication is unsuccessful and another strategy is required.

Benefits: Innovation is born of negotiation, collaboration, and connection across differences of all kinds. In this workshop participants will practice approaches to effective collaboration and will be able to apply the skills in their work and personal lives.

Who should attend: Professionals working in collaborative teams. Individuals wishing to increase their ability to connect in meaningful ways to others.

When: This is a three-hour workshop.

Leadership presence, like stage presence, isn’t all about talent. It is about developing a set of skills that result in increased connection with your team and a sense of competence that builds trust and influence with others.


What: This participatory workshop will help you develop your impact and presence as a leader, including considerations of behavioral impact, organizational impact, visual impact and vocal impact. Leadership grows from the inside out, and you will begin by focusing on identifying and expressing your core values. Topics will include listening, humor, body language, vocal flexibility and the organization of ideas.  


Benefits: Developing an awareness of personal presence is an important part of leadership. Participants will increase their individual skills related to leadership communication and will identify a “personal leadership brand” and develop skills to cope with negative self-talk. Participants will practice their skills in leadership presence and become better able to apply those skills in the workplace.


Who should attend: New and aspiring leaders.


When: Two-part workshop of six contact hours divided into two three-hour sessions.

It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. Almost 93 percent of human communication is non-verbal. Join us in developing more effective non-verbal communication skills – including tone of voice, physical orientation and environment and body language. These skills are useful in negotiation, team management, networking, collaboration, professional presentations and so much more.



What: This workshop will help participants become more aware of the non-verbal communication that is happening all around them. Through exercises and explorations, participants will develop their abilities to monitor, analyze and adjust their secondary communicative behaviors.


Benefits: Participants will leave this workshop with an increased awareness of the importance of mirroring, an increased ability to decode and convey non-verbal messages, an increased ability to listen to, observe, analyze and question the messages conveyed by others, and an increased ability to distinguish non-verbal indicators of audience comprehension and attentiveness in either individual or group interaction and to respond with appropriate strategies.



Who should attend:
Developmental team members, policy makers, parents, teachers and anyone who communicates with others regularly.


When: Two-part workshop of six contact hours divided into two three-hour sessions.

"A voice is a human gift; it should be cherished and used, to utter fully human speech as possible. Powerlessness and silence go together,” said Margaret Atwood. We’ll help you learn to use your gift as fully and expressively as possible.

What: This workshop will introduce you to approaches to warming up your voice and articulators. It will provide an opportunity for experiential learning that will improve your breath support, refine your articulation and help you connect emotionally and intellectually with the full range of your voice and speech in a variety of situations.

Benefits: Participants will leave this workshop with a set of exercises they can use to strengthen and relax their voices, enhance their emotional expressivity and clarify articulation of their ideas.


Target audience: Managers, teachers, religious leaders and all those who use their voices extensively to communicate important material.


When: This is a three-hour workshop.

These bootcamps are focused and concentrated combinations of three workshops.

This three-day bootcamp is for professional communicators. It includes all of the following workshops: The Art of Yes! (nine hours), Distilling Your Message (three hours) and Writing for a Public Audience (six hours).

This three-day bootcamp is for those needing to create a larger presence in front of an audience. It includes all of the following workshops: The Art of Yes! (nine hours), Distilling Your Message (three hours) and Effective Presentations (six hours).

 

This three-day bootcamp isfor industry and business professionals It includes all of the following workshops: The Art of Yes! (nine hours), Distilling Your Message (three hours) and Leadership Presence (six hours).

Enrich Your Learning
With Enrichments, you can add value to existing programs with an MBTI assessment, coaching, mentoring, and/or customized content. We recommend consulting our staff to develop a customized approach for you and your organizational needs. Mention Enrichments when contacting staff about your programming.