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How to Organize

a Doug Lipman Coaching Workshop

What, How, and Then What?:

When? How to schedule the workshop
Doug will help you decide when and how long a workshop it will make sense to have.
How to get people to come
It's much like inviting friends to a party.
Then what? Once they've agreed to come
A few last details before enjoying the workshop

Here are some suggestions for dealing with the details of organizing a storytelling coaching workshop--while keeping it a pleasure for you.

You may also be interested in Doug Lipman's workshops in general, his coaching services in general, or in his publications about coaching:

These suggestions are based on the experiences of past workshop organizers--but your situation may require different procedures. Use your judgement! And if you need help, call Doug and ask!

What, How, and Then What?

When? How to schedule the workshop

You'll choose the dates for your workshop in consultation with Doug. Of course, you'll take into consideration:

  • Doug's travel schedule
  • any local conflicting events
  • any local events that might increase interest
  • the needs of particular people who you hope will participate
. After choosing dates, you'll have to decide (with Doug's help):
  • what format to use
  • how many hours to schedule during each day.

How many days?

First, decide on a format. If you choose any format except a small-group mini-workshop, you'll have to decide how many days you would like it to last: from less than one day to three, four, or more days.

Most multi-day workshops last either three days (e.g., a weekend) or four days (e.g., a long weekend). Each has its advantages and disadvantages. (Doug is willing to give longer workshops, too.)

Three-day workshops are cheaper, and require less time commitment from potential participants. Somewhat reluctant participants may be more willing to try a shorter workshop.

Four-day workshops, on the other hand, give more than just 33% more benefit: the extra day allows people to take much larger risks, and to grow correspondingly more as storytellers. At the same time, the extra day is the cheapest, since the travel and publicity costs are fixed.

How Long a Day?

Doug is willing to coach people almost as many hours as they are willing to be coached. The minimum schedule for an eight-person coaching workshop is eight hours per day--excluding meals. If the day is any shorter, Doug can't guarantee to give everyone a turn.

Doug is willing to coach more than eight hours a day, however, and even prefers nine hours. (If the workshop goes through the evening hours, Doug needs a "nap break" in the afternoon.) Evening hours allow more coaching time, as well as time for telling of stories by Doug or by participants.

The first day of the workshop can start in the morning, the afternoon, or the evening (Doug's fee is the same, regardless).

An evening start can allow participants to begin on a work day. (Even if the first day is short, it's still worth doing, because it allows participants to begin the second day with a sense of what the workshop will be like, and therefore with increased trust.)

Choose a schedule that fits the needs of your group:

  • If most people will be sleeping in their own homes, they may want evenings free to spend with their families.
  • If most are coming from out of town, on the other hand, they may prefer to work into the evening, once they've made the trip.
Doug will go along with whatever hours are best for you.

What, How, and Then What?

How to get people to come

The most successful coaching workshops are the ones that most meet the needs of you, the organizer.

One way to think of who to invite is to ask yourself these questions:

  • Who do I want to have as potential coaching buddies?
  • Who around me would I like to be the recipient of Doug's information about supportive coaching?
  • Who do I love to be around and want on my "team" of allies to my storytelling?

Making Personal Contact

Once you have answered the questions about who you wish would come, it's time to start calling or talking in person to the people you want.

Personal contact has two big advantages:

  1. It lets you choose who to invite
  2. It is effective
One way to approach people is simply to say,
"I hope to have Doug Lipman come and coach me and other people in our community. I'm inviting the people I want to have on my team of storytelling allies (or: as potential rehearsal buddies, etc.). You were one of the people I thought of first. Would you be interested in knowing more?"
It's usually more effective for all involved if you take some time to ask people what their needs are as storytellers. You can model supportive listening as they describe both their successes and their "stuck" places.

Over the years, Doug has helped storytellers with nearly every possible issue. But don't hesitate to ask Doug if a particular storyteller's issue is one that Doug feels competent to help with.

In some cases, it will make sense for you to relay some of Doug's thoughts about a particular issue. This might even help the particular storyteller understand what use this workshop might be.

Beyond Your Existing Contacts

In many cases, you won't even need a flier, since you'll be talking to people you personally want to invite.

Sometimes, however, it makes sense to use the workshop as an opportunity to reach out to people you wouldn't otherwise have a chance to meet, or might not know well enough to include on your list of "good bets."

In this case, it may help to do some or all of the following:

  • Put a notice in the newsletters of your local storytelling (and other) organizations.
  • Include a flier in a newsletter (or with another mailing that goes out to members). Many organizations will allow members to include fliers in their mailings at no charge, if the member supplies the copies of the flier.
  • Send a special mailing to a list of likely prospects.
  • Post fliers at likely community gathering places, such as:

    • libraries
    • community centers
    • schools and colleges
    • local storytelling events.

If you decide you want a flier, by the way, Doug will send you a master copy, which you can duplicate.

When using such "broadcast" approaches, you will still usually want to make personal contact with the people you already know, including those who might be able to pass the word along at various events, such as:

  • conferences and festivals,
  • classes,
  • swapping sessions
  • local performances

Building on initial interest

Once someone shows an interest in the workshop, it's time to devote some attention to this person.

It might make sense to:

  • Ask more about what they'd hope to get from a workshop
  • Tell them more about your experiences (if any) being coached by Doug.
  • Give them copies of Doug's articles about coaching
  • Lend them Doug's coaching video--or, better yet, watch some or all of it together.
  • Lend them Doug's book on coaching.
If they show interest but seem to be facing obstacles to attending the workshop, you might ask, "What would it take to get you there?" Or, ":Assuming you had your ideal situation, what would you need in order to attend?" Stating one's needs is often a large step toward meeting them.

If someone states a firm intention to attend, consider asking them for a deposit. Acting on a commitment can often strengthen it!

Setting the fee

One part of getting people to come is deciding on an appropriate fee. A brief talk with Doug will sort this out quickly. In this talk you'll discuss:

  • Doug's fee and travel expenses (if any)
  • What other expenses (if any)--such as flier duplication--to consider
  • Whether you want to attend for free or to pay the same as the other attendees.
  • What discounts (if any) to give for early registration, early payment, and returning attendees
Based on answers to all these questions, Doug will suggest what to charge for the workshop.

What, How, and Then What?

Then What? Once They've Agreed to Come

When you get a deposit from someone, send a letter of confirmation, even if he or she gave you the deposit in person.

This letter spells out the deposit policy, the exact dates, etc. It also puts the entire experience on a more professional level. Any misunderstandings avoided now will avert later crises.

When you get final payments (or earlier, if you're not collecting final payments until the workshop begins), send people these things:

  1. directions to the workshop site
  2. a copy of each of these articles by Doug:
  3. Packing and Preparing for a Doug Lipman Coaching Workshop. What to Bring and What to Expect.

Then get ready to enjoy the workshop.

You'll enjoy it more than anyone, because you will have designed it to meet your needs. You may also enjoy the satisfaction of knowing that you've made it possible for everyone.

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This page was last updated on Friday, November 28, 2003
Copyright©2003 Doug Lipman