Communication Workshops and Coaching for Professionals

For your professional development needs, we have six 1) Core Workshops or Coaching for Professionals that cover our most in-demand leadership communication skills trainings, and six 2) Elective Workshops or Coaching for Professionals that cover more specialized leadership communication skills. The following lists these offerings (scroll down for full descriptions of each).

Core Workshops and Coaching for Professionals*

Presentation and Pitching Skills
+ Advanced Presentation and Pitching Skills
Strategic Storytelling
Leadership and Management Excellence
+ Advanced Leadership and Management Excellence
Media Training
Conflict Management and Negotiation
Strategic Communication Bootcamp

Elective Workshops and Coaching for Professionals*

Interpersonal Dynamics and Relational Excellence
Cross-Cultural Training
Collaboration Tools and Practices
Impactful Professional Writing
Communication for Hybrid and Remote Work
Personal and Professional Development Planning

*All workshops offerings are available in-person, virtually, or in hybrid format. All coaching takes place virtually.

Core Workshops and Coaching for Professionals

Presentation and Pitching Skills

Year after year, countless surveys of professionals from across the world continue to show that communication is the top skill for professionals to master. Rather than leave this critical area to chance, every one of us should have a plan for becoming more strategic and impactful communicators in and across organizations. Increasingly, effective professionals will be those who can sustain persuasive, sophisticated messages among many audiences, using communication to convey, motivate, and sustain institutional missions and morale. This interactive training will offer attendees a concise framework and the newest, evidence-based tools for presenting information in an engaging and effective manner to people in varying settings and at all different levels of an organization. Following research that consistently demonstrates what the top expectations are for excellent public communicators, particular attention will be placed on translating complex material for public impact, techniques to increase confidence and influence, strategies for building a case, and best practices for audience interaction. Separating fact from fiction, this workshop or coaching will also provide the latest insights for visual communication, particularly for working with different slide show formats and through different media. Using participant’s materials, we will analyze “before” and “after” presentational differences, discuss common pitfalls, and apply body language, tone, charisma, and overall delivery practices that influence your organization’s messages. Participants will have the opportunity to present and receive feedback from the trainer and peers.

“I wanted to take a moment to express my deep appreciation for the amazing workshop you led on public speaking. Your expertise, enthusiasm, and unwavering commitment to helping us become better speakers were truly remarkable. Throughout the workshop, you offered valuable insights, practical advice, and engaging exercises that helped us hone our skills and build our confidence. Your warm and supportive manner put us all at ease and encouraged us to take risks and try new techniques. Your passion for the art of public speaking was evident in every moment of the workshop. You went above and beyond to provide personalized guidance and support to each of us, ensuring that we all felt valued and empowered. I am confident that the skills I gained from your workshop will serve me well for years to come. I feel incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to learn from such a gifted and dedicated facilitator. Thank you again for sharing your knowledge and expertise with us. It was truly an honor to work with you and look forward to continued partnerships.” Natoya Curd, Sr. Director, Operations & Administration, Women’s Sports Foundation

Advanced Presentation and Pitching Skills

Reviewing and building on the core concepts and practices for delivering presentations/pitches effectively, this workshop or coaching takes participants to the next level with these skill sets. The training focuses on having participants work through an existing or new presentation/pitch that they will deliver for organizational objectives in the next year, so that everyone walks away with a product in development from this session. The workshop or coaching will further cover what it takes to read the room and adapt to an even more diverse range of audiences, especially for higher stakes engagements (e.g. TED Talks, nonprofit gala presentations, public-facing Zoom webinars, etc.) and more difficult moments for presenting (crisis communication, working well with Q&A, etc.). This workshop provides an opportunity to tailor the session to participants’ continuing questions or concerns. Dr. Waisanen will conduct a survey of areas participants would like to hone so that unique individual and organizational needs are all addressed throughout this training. Note: if participants have gone (or will go through) the Strategic Storytelling or Media Training workshops or coaching, practice in these areas will also be incorporated into this session to show how each of these skill sets can be used tactically for both online and offline presentations/pitches.

“Dr. Waisanen did a masterful job of teaching our staff how to present in an engaging and effective manner. His friendly and joyful approach takes the anxiety out of presenting while providing concrete tools and strategies for public speaking.” Nancy Guida, Chief Advancement and Communications Officer, New York Edge

Strategic Storytelling

The ability to find, craft, and tell a story is an essential tool for professional communicators. Contrary to the notion that storytelling is just a nice “add on” to our work, this training will show how it should be at the very core of your organizational approaches and objectives. Used strategically, a well told story can convey an organization’s mission and culture, attract the attention of the media, raise funds, influence decision makers, and even help societies embark on new paths. Stories that resonate propel candidates into office, move a nonprofit ahead, and form the basis for social movements and causes that effect lasting changes. While narrative is a powerful strategic tool, learning how to communicate a story in and across different media is a skill requiring discipline and effort. An average newsletter, presentation, annual report, marketing brochure, or website will always become more compelling through established and emerging techniques for applied storytelling. Addressing the specific training content and outcome needs of your organization, this highly participatory strategic storytelling training will leave a lasting effect upon internal and external engagements. Formed from the Strategic Storytelling class Dr. Don Waisanen has taught at Columbia University over the last decade, every part of this program draws from and applies the very best research and practice from strategic storytelling for organizational outcomes, and has been tested nationally and internationally with nonprofit, corporate, and other clients. By the end, every participant will walk away with a new toolkit of practices that can be applied immediately at work. We’ll also have a lot of fun along the way, guaranteed.

“It’s easy to run out of superlatives when describing our day-long Strategic Storytelling session with Don. Not only did he engage a room of 50+ communication professionals for eight straight hours (by itself a small miracle), he inspired us to do better, be better, and even think better. Don gave us the tools to enhance our conversations, build more meaningful relationships, and enlarge our communication toolkit. Even after two months, my team STILL talks about how amazing Don’s training was, and I can’t recommend him highly enough to any group/organization looking to help their employees measurably improve.” Andrew Fackrell, Director, Communication Consulting, Fidelity Investments

Leadership and Management Excellence

This training provides a big picture framework and the essential practices for both emerging and executive leadership and management, especially for communicating well up, down, and across organizational silos. The workshop or coaching focuses on building trust by providing effective feedback and critiques, using new technologies effectively, communicating with difficult or antagonistic staff, inspiring/motivating diverse employees, running effective meetings, understanding leadership traps, and getting understanding and “buy-in” from teams. Other areas covered include delegating, enforcing, and knowing when to dictate versus listen, working with other leads to accomplish change and organizational goals, operationalizing values for equity, inclusion, and belongingness, and planning/communicating for employee development. Participants will have opportunities for practice, feedback, and questions—and develop a forward-looking plan to be implemented post-workshop or coaching. In addition to covering the essentials, Dr. Waisanen will conduct a further analysis of areas participants would like to engage so that unique individual and organizational needs are all addressed throughout the training. This highly interactive workshop or coaching provides a core view of what participants can do now to supercharge all of their leadership and management skills.

“Don Waisanen brings with him a breadth of evidence-based research, a passion for learning, and a genuine interest in people. Through seamless choreography, alternating discussion with embodied practice, he peppers in facts, stylistic approaches, compelling metaphors, and real-life examples so that we all walk away with a keen understanding of not only who we are as directors, but who we want to be. Working with Don is more than “management training.” It’s a process of building a tool kit for the road we are laying ahead of us. He sets us up for success by creating a space for learning that leans on history yet leaves time for reflection and critique alongside active skill building and compassion.” Gina Gibney, Founder, CEO, and Artistic Director, Gibney

Advanced Leadership and Management Excellence

This advanced workshop or coaching moves to higher, organizational and network level strategies for emerging and executive leadership and management. Building on the skills from the first training, participants will gain insights from high-level frameworks and methods for an organizational overhaul or continuing development, particularly in making a shift from the clear, measured differences between a “traditional” and an “engaging” organization. At every level, the training will advance leaders who become architects of an organization’s communication patterns, using broad and deep insights to serve their people and deliver results. Many parts of this training will be customized to participants’ current needs and interests. Applying diagnostic tools and exercises, participants will assess and see opportunities for changing their cultures/climates for greater productivity, equity and inclusion, financial health, job satisfaction and retention, increased innovation, ability to manage the unexpected, and the cultivation of unity while welcoming differences among multiple stakeholders.

Media Training

One conclusion from years of research on professionals’ working lives is that every staff member needs media training for a world where the face of organizations is now continually represented on multiple fronts. Whether through broadcast interviews, a guest shot on a podcast, or a call from a print journalist, all communicators need proper preparation to maximize the impact of their media exposure. Using a framework for working with media that can be immediately applied, this workshop offers attendees the newest, evidence-based tools for presenting information in an engaging and effective manner to people in varying settings and across different media. Particular attention will be placed upon on-camera presence, translating material for media engagements, techniques to increase confidence and influence, working well with difficult questions, and best practices for interviewer and audience interaction. This interactive training provides all participants with a “before” and “after” assessment for becoming more strategic and impactful with media, so that they can see the changes for their media appearances in real-time.

“We went through 3 workshops plus individual sessions over a 1-month period. What transpired over the course of the month was truly outstanding and exceeded all expectations. We elevated our skills as corporate communicators, learning how to be more engaging, break the mold and deliver communications that grab people (even the most mundane, informative comms). Most importantly, and very unexpectedly, we emerged from this time with Don much closer as a team, breaking through any barriers that may have existed between us. Don is incredible at ensuring that the learnings go beyond the surface – through a fast paced, engaging format, he manages to transform your mind to think differently when it comes to delivering any type of communication.” Dana Sultan-Rothman, Head of Corporate Communications, Otsuka, Inc.

Conflict Management and Negotiation

Every professional must manage conflict and negotiate effectively in a wide variety of situations. For many people, these skills will be exercised almost every day of their working lives. Yet when it comes to what we actually do in conflict or negotiation, too many professionals rely on a limited range of tools based on imitation (“this is what I’ve observed others do”), tradition (“I’ve always done it this way”), or intuition (“I’ll just wing it”), when there are far more effective, tested strategies available. There’s now a great deal of social science behind training on these topics: effective conflict management and negotiation are inextricably linked to employee retention, expanded value for multiple stakeholders, higher job benefits and satisfaction, work environments manifesting equity and equality, and many other organizational outcomes. An additional benefit is that improving these skills carries over to many of the challenges we face in our personal lives. In this workshop, participants will develop an understanding of conflict and its dynamics, strategies and processes for eliciting cooperation and producing supportive professional environments, the fundamentals of negotiation, a variety of conflict management approaches used to overcome common barriers to negotiated resolutions, and strategies for dealing with controversies and crises. Every participant will walk away with new perspectives and techniques that can be immediately applied in their everyday work.

Strategic Communication Bootcamp

From an organizational vantage point, this training covers the complete A-Z of internal and external communication strategies that those working within an organization should engage to bring about results for their work. The workshop or coaching moves participants from ad hoc views and practices in communication to what it takes to conceive, plan, and execute on all aspects of strategic communication for an organization. Using examples, exercises, and providing participants with an opportunity to formulate a strategic communication plan, this workshop or coaching gets staff (or a subset of staff working on communication) completely aligned and ready to implement and manage this function in and across their organizations.

“When our growing digital agency requested communications training, I immediately turned to Don who facilitated yet another stellar interactive workshop. Don masterfully presented evidence-based techniques that our team still references months after the training. The activities that he designed into the workshop were highly relevant, fun, and memorable. Our team not only came away with a strong communications framework but we also had a positive team bonding experience thanks to Don.” Ann Nguyen, Design Whaler and Head of NY, Whole Whale

Elective Workshops and Coaching for Professionals

Interpersonal Dynamics and Relational Excellence

Combining insights from millennia of thought and practice with contemporary, interdisciplinary work on this topic, this workshop or coaching addresses perhaps the most fundamental question human beings can ask: what does it take to create the best possible relationships with others? Every step of the way, participants get to practice key lessons and developments on this subject through exercises, role-plays, simulations, and deep discussions and debriefs focused on what everyone can start doing tomorrow to improve their work with others.

Cross-Cultural Training

In global settings, communication problems are amplified by the difficulties people face in translating issues across contexts. Focused on transforming participants into outstanding, adaptive global communicators, this comprehensive cross-cultural training helps participants to develop and sharpen a variety of relevant intercultural communication skills. It invites visionary, knowledgeable, and diplomatic leaders to understand different cultural norms and communicate ethically and effectively across forms of difference, adapting their messages to diverse audiences. To facilitate an active workshop or coaching, a range of participatory learning methods will be used, including case analyses, exercises, small group discussions, and self-assessments.

Collaboration Tools and Practices

Focused on the art and science of gathering well, this training gets participants to understand and practice the very methods and techniques we use in our facilitations. Using a range of tools and practices such as norm setting, appreciative inquiry, liberating structures, interactive meeting design, conversational roles, organizational climate construction, and dealing with tense or difficult moments, we expand every participants’ range in this area. This training leaves a permanent imprint for practice—we have yet to meet anyone who wants to go back to the “old ways” once they have experienced these highly inclusive, engaging, and results-focused ways of gathering.

Impactful Professional Writing

This training focuses on getting participants to implement excellent professional writing practices across a variety of different media. Working with lessons covering what has changed in our current writing environment in recent years, and particularly the genre switches professional writers have to make to adapt well to varying audiences, this workshop or coaching gets straight to the point on what participants need to know and do. The training uses a “before” and “after” writing makeover method to show the differences between poor and outstanding emails, memos, website copy, opinion leadership, social media posts, crisis or risk communication, and other forms of writing just about every professional now needs to carry out effectively. Participants each walk away with a memorable, one-page checklist to put into action the next day at work.

Communication for Hybrid or Remote Work

In this specialized training, we focus on how to create communication structures for hybrid or remote work that build relationships and get results. Following emerging and longstanding research on leading organizations and forming teams in a largely digital environment, this training provides participants with the clear distinctions and challenges for communicating in person versus partly or wholly online. Using a comprehensive framework for planning in these areas, this workshop or coaching uses clients’ goals to distill down to the essential actions for hybrid or remote work, including everything from benchmark norms and accountabilities for teamwork to key practices to apply for engagement before, during, and after meetings on platforms such as Zoom.

Personal and Professional Development Planning

Perfect for the individual or group looking to understand and develop their next steps, make a significant turn in their focus or career, or integrate their personal and professional lives into a coherent leadership development plan, this workshop or coaching leads participants through the core questions of why, what, and how professionals should proceed in their work. For those at any kind of life juncture where one’s (or one’s group) needs to understand their meaning/purposes, values, personal and professional identity and story/stories, collective commitments, and actions to take, this planning session makes sure that each person moves to the next level in their emerging development.