Sunday, February 22, 2009

re-tooling your training in tough times

Communications planning and training (along with content development) are major services I offer clients--and in these tough financial times, my clients are asking for interesting twists on my training services, re-tooling standard sessions to make sure they're more strategic in these difficult days. I offer a range of training services, from intensive one-on-one sessions to group trainings in a variety of skills: Public speaking, media interview skills, social media as a communications tool, and writing and editing. I also facilitate retreats for communications staff teams or boards of directors. Here are the latest tools in my communications training toolbox, based on what clients have been requesting recently:
  1. Social media training retreats: One university advancement team--including alumni relations, marketing, and media- and public-relations--commissioned a 2-day training retreat on social media communications options. I assessed staff skills in advance (this team included adept enthusiasts and folks who'd never tried Facebook) and developed a retreat that blended overviews of how universities and other organizations are using social media with hands-on training in the basics of Twitter, Facebook, widgets, online video and blogs. We built in opportunities for staff members to discuss how social media would change their work, what they would do if others pushed back against social-media usage, and brainstorming sessions where they could develop pilot projects to accomplish their goals in media relations, student recruitment and alumni engagement.
  2. Communications retreats with a focus on budget-cutting: Current conditions call for communications teams to figure out how to do more with less. So these days, I'm facilitating communications staff retreats that look forward into 2009 to find new ways of operating to stretch budget dollars. (As a longtime communications director for some of the largest U.S. nonprofits, a major philanthropy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, I'm no stranger to strategic budget cuts.) In some cases, clients are looking at adapting existing print or basic Web communications vehicles to social-media platforms; in others, re-training longtime staff members to expand their skills.
  3. Improving speaking and presentation skills: Whether it's one-on-one training for a new CEO or group training to bring your faculty, sales team, or members up to par, I'm finding that clients are eager to invest in their speaking skills, even in a recession. Improving your ability to make the case for more funding--whether from Congress, philanthropies, venture capitalists or just your board--is a critical skill today. So I've been helping clients shape their messages and hone the skills that will help them put those messages over to an audience. Another great value: Customized training is always a better value than off-the-shelf classes. Among the specialized speaker trainings I've offered are sessions targeted to women's special skills and challenges in public speaking, based on The Eloquent Woman blog, and those that help scientists, engineers and other technical experts translate their work for public audiences.
Participants in my recent trainings have said my trainings are "fun and energetic" and "savvy and informed." Let me pack lots of knowledge into your next training so you can move forward in these tough times. Email me at info[at]dontgetcaught[dot]biz...and before you do, be a good consumer and check my tips on what to ask for in an updated media training and questions to ask a media trainer, as well as those you should ask a public-speaking trainer.

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