Specialising in communication skills, Brenda Eckstein International offers a wide range of training programmes aimed mainly at executive and management levels. However, these courses can be adapted to suit specific needs:
- Communication Skills
- Enhance Your Executive Skills (EYES)
- Leading In Formation
- Networking Tactics
- Sustainable Customer Service Strategy
- Effective Delegation, Giving Instructions and How to be Assertive
- How To Get Your Point Across
- Formula Five
- Powerful Presentations
- Navigating Your Future
A question is often asked: How do we get teams or individuals who are highly competent in their area of expertise to perform better as individuals or teams in the workplace. They have the technical or professional skills, but lack the ability to instruct those junior to them, to report effectively to their supervisor and to generally understand how their behaviours are seen. Professionalism is often lacking, as is the ability to build meaningful relationships. This course serves to empower individuals, enhance team performance and adds value to the culture of the organisation.
Seven years ago, to suit the needs of a specific company quoted on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, a ‘communication skills’ programme covering twelve four-hour sessions was developed. Assignments applied in the workplace between sessions are an integral part of the course. The phenomenal success of this programme has enabled us to present the same course for that company thirteen times and for another company three times. The participants have ranged from young ‘professionals’ to ‘post –matric’ students. So the benefits are considered enormous by our clients and this programme is a proven success.
Incorporated in this programme are our ‘How to get your point across’, ‘Effective Delegation, How to Give Instructions and How to be Assertive’ workshops. In addition, values (corporate and individual) are studied and a Code of Professionalism developed. Through developing their presentation skills, participants gain confidence and their standard of communication within the workplace is lifted.
Enhance Your Executive Skills (EYES)
This programme answers the question: ‘How do we combine integral coaching and mentoring or training in a way that doesn’t blur the boundaries’? Or it could be ‘How do we use integral coaching and training together in one programme to multiply our results? Thus, we developed a new course that did exactly that. Each participant attends six three-hour group sessions held at weekly intervals and although these are essentially training, coaching principles are woven through the course. Between sessions, individuals engage with self-observations, practices, exercise, reflections and journaling, just as they would if being privately coached. And each individual engages in two private coaching sessions.
Qualified integral coaches are able to help individuals turn their ‘stumbling blocks’ into ‘stepping stones’. And most of the one-on-one coaching programmes we run are six-months in duration. A few clients had completed a six-month programme and had shifted their ‘way of being’ significantly. In some cases, there were new issues to be addressed and they had a short break and then engaged in another six-month programme.
In the last year since the inception of this course, it has been held four times. And those who have participated often enrol for another course – because they have gained so much from the course!
The content covers a wide range of topics – building positive relationships, quality conversation and aligning corporate and personal branding are a few examples. Using cognitive and creative skills together is also part of the programme.
Although the first four programmes have been held for the ‘public’ it would be ideal as an ‘in house’ programme, too. Individuals would still each have their two coaching sessions and also attend the six three-hour group sessions.
Leading in formation
This workshop is one of the ‘all time’ favourites as it achieves exceptional results. It was originally developed because there seemed to be no networking literature that linked personal networking constructively to achieving goals. That was before the days of Face-book, LinkedIn and Twitter! So this workshop was developed to help people produce their own individual one-page plan showing personal strategy (originally for five-years – now we work on three years – or even one year.) And then there are specific tactics which we practice usually for one or two week periods in order to help us to use networking to achieve our major goals.
This workshop became the topic of Brenda’s first published book: ‘Networking Tactics: how to achieve success through personal networking’.
For organisations we have held this workshop ‘in house’ for their management teams for skills development and also for building stronger teams. Some have then continued with twelve week programmes where the entire organisation has worked on one tactic per week. Holding ‘report-backs’ each week in clusters increases the success of these programmes. A special emphasis is ‘catch some-one doing something right’ focusing on that week’s principle. So the initial workshop can be carried over into a sustainable programme with outstanding results. The whole culture of the organisation improves.
The second published book, ‘ABCs of Networking’ also forms an excellent base for developing a sustainable networking programme for the whole organisation.
The complete ‘Networking Tactics’ programme is included in the twelve-session programme, ‘Communication Skills’. But where clients want to ‘harness the power of collective networking’ in their organisations, we also run specially tailored workshops, mini-workshops or even keynotes on various aspects of networking.
Sustainable Customer Service Strategy
Often businesses and organisations can’t understand why their service is erratic. Training in customer service alone does not bring sustainability. But focusing on service as being a critical success factor in achieving the business’s overall strategy can bring significant results. So by having each department and individual work on the same principles at the same time benefits all aspects of the business.
This workshop is suitable for large or small organisations, businesses or professional offices. We usually work with the management team. However, we also run public one-day workshops where individual managers or business owners can participate.
How did this unique workshop originate? Having built a group of successful stores from scratch, I appreciate how important ‘service’ is. And by training the entire staff well, we are empowering others, too. As a family business we won many awards for our service and five years ago, in being audited for the Services Seta award (which we were awarded!) for service excellence, I realised the importance of incorporating Sustainable Customer Service Strategy into the way we work. Together, an associate, Leon Grove and I developed this programme both for public and ‘in house’ one-day workshops. Sometimes we present together or each of us individually presents the same content, too. There is usually a follow-up session to help firms or individuals fine-tune their plans.
Effective Delegation, Giving Instructions and How to be Assertive
As leaders and managers, how do we create ‘space’ so that we can work on more strategic matters or other areas of more importance? Often we feel we are too busy, overwhelmed or past failure prevents us from delegating. It is easier to do the job ourselves and know that it is done properly. This one-day workshop covers the difference between delegating and instructing. Both are important, but sometimes we aren’t using the approach that will bring the best outcomes. And we want success, both for ourselves and also for those to whom we are delegating.
In addition to practising a step-by-step approach to delegating and a different approach to instructing, this workshop covers ‘how to be assertive’. Often we avoid people because there are issues that we don’t know how to handle. Or we might talk to the person but make sure we can escape without talking about ‘that issue’. Or we raise it, emotions creep in, and we know we have handled it badly. So this part of the workshop deals with exploring how we can address these issues without ‘sweeping them under the carpet’ and deal with them in the most constructive, professional manner.
The original ‘Ten Steps’ were developed more than ten years ago and hundreds of participants have benefitted from this workshop. Sometimes we have individuals from a firm or business attending then they come back to us with a request to present it ‘in house’. The outcomes are great.
Participants work on their own relevant examples for each exercise. There is no limit to the size of the group. If the numbers go above 25, a second facilitator is engaged.
These three elements also form part of the twelve-session ‘Communication skills’ course.
How to get your point across
How do we create order out of chaos? Often we have too much information. We don’t know where to start. How do we quickly and easily organise that information into a clearly defined and articulated message that gets our point across and leaves our reader, listener or audience with a clear impression of what we are saying? Using a simple versatile formula we practise written and verbal examples. This same formula can be used for long or short messages. One participant used the same format for the chapters of a research project she was engaged in.
In the business world we have to be short, precise and ‘to the point’. People don’t have time to read more than a few lines. A participant once complained that her boss didn’t bother to read her messages. Once our method became her default and she captured the essence in her first sentence, he started reading and a positive relationship developed.
This workshop has enabled people to make use of opportunities. It is easy to write ‘thank you’ letters or messages. It takes the stress out of getting a report or presentation together. It helps you to clearly state your point of view and the action you’d like others to take. By sticking to the structure it is easier to control emotions and remain professional.
So this one-day workshop has been a great success for more than ten years. And it continues to be valuable as a ‘stand-alone’ one-day workshop or as part of other courses. It forms a cornerstone of the 12-session ‘Communication Skills’ workshop.
Because firms still ask for this original version of the workshop, we have kept it intact. However, an upgraded version, ‘Formula Five’ (please see below) is also available.
How do we get better results when communicating? This is the new upgraded version of ‘How to get your point across’ which has been one of our most popular workshops for many years. Presented for the first time in June 2013, ‘Formula Five’ adds sparkle to a tried-and-tested combination.
The five formulae shown and practised cover introducing themselves in a way that is more likely to lead to quality conversation thus aiding in building positive relationships. The quality of conversation can easily be enhanced through using a simple technique. So this provides our second formula.
The third enables participants to save time when preparing verbal and written communication through organising information quickly and easily. Participants will benefit from improved results when communicating as they will have applied a simple formula which they know and have practised for structuring their message. They will be able to use that formula for verbal communication – getting your point across to one person, speaking in front of a group, participating in meetings. And they’ll confidently use the formula for written communication – letters, notices, magazine articles, reports. This formula is versatile. For example, they will be able to graciously and confidently respond when asked to ‘say a few words’.
Sometimes we are asked to introduce a speaker and learning to effectively structure our introduction also helps us to be more effective and more confident. The assertiveness formula helps us to get our point across in a way that is more likely to achieve results and build positive relationships.
This workshop is ideal for management and leadership teams. However, it can be adapted to participants at any level. Conducted in public or for ‘in house’ groups, there is no limit to the numbers that can participate. Each individual works on their own examples within a certain framework. However, if the number of participants is in excess of 25, a second facilitator is engaged.
Most of us ‘present’ frequently. It could be a lawyer’s presentation in court. It could be the maître-d presenting the menu at a restaurant. Or it could be you walking in to your bosses’ office to present information to him.
Professionalism and confidence are important in all of these situations and many more. How do we develop these capabilities? This course covers the ‘how to’ as well as the practical application.
There are three parts to this workshop. The first module is ‘How to get your point across’. Here participants learn to organise information. At the first session they are assigned presentations to prepare between sessions. And then they present these presentations at the second session.
The second session therefore includes these presentations as well as the ‘how to’ of presentation styles and evaluation techniques. These are effective tools which we can use in promoting self-growth and the improvement of others.
The third session is optional and involves going deeper into the art of presenting. And here participants would present their second assignments which they prepared between the second and third sessions.
As each person presents, in the interests of allocating sufficient time to each participant, a maximum number of nine participants is recommended. These workshops can be held ‘in house’ or for the public.
Navigating your future
This is a mini-workshop developed from a keynote requested by a client in February 2013. The question asked is how do we effectively manage the present while leading to the future?
This workshop addresses these issues and asks, ‘would you prefer to be the captain of a ship, or a cork bobbing in the ocean’? As captain, it is important to know destination. Where are we going and how are we going to get there? There are strategic issues which need the ‘guy at the top’ to have a clear head. He needs to be able to have ‘space’ to do what he is good at and this can be achieved through enhancing his delegation skills.
‘Keeping the boat afloat’ requires stability often in turbulent waters. How do we get everyone working together? It is the team that counts.
And what about the individuals. If they aren’t fulfilled, they won’t have pride in their work and nor will they work effectively towards the common goals. And nowadays, networking is imperative for success. How do we empower individuals to communicate, hold conversations and recognise and optimise opportunities for themselves and for the team?
This fun workshop has a powerful message which reinforces the importance of strong leadership, working together and meeting the needs of individuals.