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Speaking workshops point way forward

Shirin Aguiar-Holloway

Ms Briggs advocates using workshops such as Toastmasters, a non-profit educational organisation that teaches public speaking and leadership skills.

Workshop-style speaking events offer an effective way to understand how to best deliver a message, and can be used to review products and competitors, and help develop strategy, she said.

Ms Briggs added that business owners can also use the opportunity of these events to test presentations for prospective clients.

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Rather than just learn to do a hard sell, workshop events may be used to include interaction and engagement with people.

Ms Briggs described workshop results as helping to improve “alignment of actions, clarity of purpose and direction.”

She said: “Productivity is improved because people know where they are going, where they need to focus and they are more committed because they have had an input into the plans.”

Ms Briggs is lieutenant governor of education and training for Toastmasters International, where she has been a member for 12 years.

Ms Briggs said: “The more you do the better you get. So in the real world it means you can focus on the content of what you are doing, rather than worrying about running a workshop. You are comfortable, you know you can do it.”

Members can develop their communication skills, including how to listen to customers, and pick up on passing comments that often hide the bigger issues.

“They can also learn to challenge and ask questions to probe in a non-threatening way, and develop and encourage their team members, she said.

Toastmasters, which has 292,000 members spread out over 122 countries, runs workshops through its 14,350 clubs.

In contrast to other speaking and leadership workshops, sessions are run without an instructor, meaning that members are responsible for evaluating their fellow peers’ presentations.


Jonothan McColgan, director and chartered financial planner for Bath-based Combined Financial Strategies, said: “Workshops are a good idea generally. It has been done in the industry a long time. It is not new. You do need to go into it with a joint alliance. It is for perspective clients, how you can target people. Do it alongside another business partnership, with crossover expertise, like join up with an accountant, or other business partners or professions. The majority of chartered financial planners tend to be very small businesses and owner-managed, with one or two support staff, which means you are openly discussing things as you go along. There are very few large IFA practices.”