True Confessions about Big Workshops

True confession time: While my company started its journey in communication skills training by leading big, short-term workshops, I’m unconvinced that these kinds of programs have as much impact as we wish they did.

Large-group workshops are great for checking “public speaking training” off an organization’s annual to-do list. They may even help a few participants make some changes. 

But most of the time, large workshops give people lots of ways to show up but not really participate. It is impossible to tailor feedback and coaching–the more people in the room, the more passive the experience tends to become. Even when they are done well, a one- or two-day workshop simply cannot have the impact that ongoing learning has.

I struggle with this because I know that organizations are doing their best to meet many learning and training needs across many departments, and that there are lots of competing priorities. And I want my company to be able to work with organizations of all sizes to help people ignite their own power to communicate. If an HR department really wants us to come and do a presentation for 150 people, isn’t that better than nothing?

I know that our coaching approach and our coaches are most effective, and have the most lasting results, in longer-term small group and one-on-one engagements. It makes sense: with fewer people and more time, you can address much more specific issues and really tailor practice and feedback.

We still do the occasional big-group program, but we have shifted our focus over the last several years. In 2021, Ignite CSP pioneered a small-group coaching cohort program called the Public Speaking Catalyst. We have run this five-week program twice this year, and we’re getting ready to launch it again.

The coach to student ratio is 1:6, you’re invited to bring whatever your real-life materials are, and the Ignite team is on speed dial for you through the whole experience.

Here’s what former Catalyst participants have shared:

“Who I am is at the heart of my speaking: this program refined access to my voice and my stories with confidence.”

“I feel that I have made real progress during the five weeks. The course did a nice job of allowing me to put these ideas into practice — both through shooting videos as homework and during real time in class.”

“My coach showed great flexibility in adjusting content to our group needs, including providing prerecording on presenting online so as to maximize our time presenting and feedback for one another.”

If the large-group experience isn’t for you, if you want a personal, warm approach, if you’re ready to see significant improvement in your public speaking, join us.

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