Communications Short Course

Management, technical, and other professionals who wish to advance in an organization need to communicate in a clear, concise, and convincing manner. Thus, the purpose of this 1-3 hour short course is to focus on key communication activities, including speeches and presentations, briefings of senior managers, media interviews, testimony at public hearings, and newspaper opinion pieces.

Dr. J. Winston Porter leads this communications course. He is an energy and environmental consultant, based in Savannah, GA. Earlier, he was an assistant administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and before that a senior manager at Bechtel Corporation. Through these and other positions he has extensive experience in all five of the communication areas discussed below.

Speeches and Presentations. These activities range from in-house presentations to formal speeches at conventions or to community groups. Whatever the format, the goal is to sell important concepts in an interesting and understandable fashion. Dr. Porter uses his experience to outline the keys to effective speeches and presentations, including techniques for connecting with audiences and highlighting important concepts. Both presentation and “Q& A” situations are discussed.

Briefing of Senior Managers. Most professionals have the opportunity to brief senior managers in their own or other organizations. These briefings can provide two major benefits: (1) help a senior official or manager

make the right decisions and (2) impress the senior person with the capabilities and ideas of the person doing the briefing. Dr. Porter will discuss the techniques he has used in briefing CEOs of major companies, U. S. cabinet secretaries, state governors, members of Congress, and other senior officials. He discusses time management, visual aids, personal interactions with such officials, and the use of crisp, persuasive arguments.

Media Interviews. As individuals move up in the ranks, situations often develop where the person is interviewed by radio, TV, or newspaper outlets. Such interviews can range from lengthy sessions with print reporters to effective sound bites in radio or TV interviews, Dr. Porter has been involved in hundreds of such interviews with national and local media. He will take the attendees through effective techniques to make important points, while avoiding embarrassing gaffes.

Testimony at Legislative and Other Public Hearings. The communication skills needed in such hearings can be quite different than those needed to deliver a speech before a supportive audience, as public hearings are often confrontational. Having testified at some 65 congressional and state hearings, Dr. Porter will discuss the writing and delivery of effective testimony, and defending it during often adversarial question and answer sessions.

Newspaper Opinion Pieces. Although less frequent than the other types of communications, some professionals will have the opportunity to prepare op-ed articles for local, regional, or national newspapers. Such pieces are an excellent way to reach many thousands of readers with important information, usually in about a 600- word format. Dr. Porter has had about 75 opinion articles published in all sizes of newspapers. Using this experience he will discuss how to prepare a provocative piece which is “publishable,” and to develop clear and convincing arguments related to the chosen subject matter.