Our Workshops

Public Conversations’ highly experiential workshops enhance people’s capacity to plan, facilitate, and engage in more constructive conversations in their professional, civic, or personal lives. Whether you’re experiencing our approach for the first time or adding to your skill set as a seasoned professional, our workshops will offer you powerful learning opportunities. You’ll find a list of our workshop offerings below.

The Power of Dialogue: Constructive Conversations on Divisive Issues

Do you work with groups challenged by deep differences? Do you need new ways to help them engage? Come experience The Power of Dialogue! Our signature workshop offers a deep exploration of Reflective Structured Dialogue, an intentional communication process marked by its unique capacity to reduce threat and foster mutual understanding across lines of deep difference. Through immersion in an intensive case simulation, participants will learn about the dynamics of polarization and conflict, and explore modes of communication that increase understanding, re-humanize opponents and shift relationships. These are key steps in the process of breaking gridlock, moving beyond conflict, and building strong communities. Develop your dialogue design and facilitation skills with The Power of Dialogue. Learn more.

Facilitating Public Meetings

In today’s world, leading effective public meetings has become increasingly difficult. Our polarized society contributes to a “win-lose” mentality. Tight economic times heighten the stakes when people come together to tackle public policy issues. Lack of confidentiality, the role of the media, and evolving technology further complicate the process. Designing and facilitating effective public meetings requires coolness, clarity, courage and skill. This workshop will help participants address the challenges of engaging an impassioned and deeply involved public in constructive conversation. Learn more.

Preparing to Succeed

As the old saying goes, “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.” This workshop focuses on the many benefits of thoughtful, meticulous preparation for dialogue by both participants and facilitators. Effective preparation helps participants engage more deeply with others on subjects about which they feel passionately (and differently). Preparation also enables facilitators to build trust with participants, shape meeting designs, and “stay grounded” in their role so that they can be more helpful to participants. Through structured exercises, discussion, and practice, workshop attendees will learn how to prepare with care. Learn more.

Inquiry as Intervention: Crafting Questions with Purpose and Impact

Questions are powerful. Once asked, they can either invite or inhibit understanding between the asker and the asked. In this workshop, participants will experience the effects that different questions have on them and on others. In addition, they will learn how to craft questions that open up new possibilities for conversations across deep differences. After Inquiry as Intervention, you may never hear—or ask—a question in the same way again! Learn more.

Facilitating with Purpose and Poise—Even When Things Get Hot

Anyone who leads meetings can be thrown off balance when difficult moments arise. The difficulty might be an unexpected tense moment among group members, or it may come in the form of a challenge to your legitimacy. In either case, you can learn to prevent an intense “deer in the headlight” moment and instead act calmly and intentionally. Learn more.

A Day That Makes A Difference: Planning Successful Retreats

You have one day to make it happen. Your staff or team or board needs to reflect, regroup, restart. You want the day to be purposeful, fun, and galvanizing for your mission. You’d like to feel more connected to what you do and those you do it with. You hope there’s a way to move from ideas to action. In this day-long workshop, you will learn how to prepare for and structure a successful retreat for your organization. Experience the power of reflection, intention, connection, and play. Come away with what you need to make your retreat into a day that makes a difference. Learn more.

Transforming Divisive Conversation: A Workshop for Clergy and Lay Leaders

Like all communities, communities of faith are characterized as much by their diversity as by their shared identity, beliefs and values. Conflict can arise in times of transition, or around differences in theology, worship, and identity. Dealing with conflict while it’s happening is challenging at best. Transforming Divisive Conversation explores ways to prevent corrosive interactions and promote more constructive engagement through careful planning and participant preparation. Learn more.

Letting Go to Lead: Convening and Facilitating When Stakes Are High

Do you facilitate meetings in your community, company or organization? Do you want to harness differences in the service of learning and innovation rather than unproductive repetition, paralysis, or weak compromises? Letting Go to Lead will invite participants to consider ways that they can convene, prepare themselves, design, and facilitate meetings that build participant engagement and mutual accountability on the basis of clarified purposes and commitments. This workshop is suited for both new and experienced facilitators for whom convening and facilitation is part of larger leadership and management roles. Learn more.