Sunday, September 23, 2007

Fall Cleaning Special - Engaging Exercises Hardcopy Manual

It's officially fall later today and with it comes some fall cleaning of my office. Two years ago I published my first hardcopy manual for sale -- The Engaging Exercises for Teams and Groups (TM) Manual. I've got 7 copies left of the original publication and will be offering a 33% special on these remaining copies up to October 15th (or when they are all gone!).

The Engaging Exercises for Teams and Groups Manual includes 25 exercises you can use for your own workshops, retreats or group coaching programs. These are some of my favorite tried and true exercises from my last 19 years of group work, along with a general overview of the different types of exercises you can use. The 65 page manual also comes with a number of extra resources including:

* 12 Golden Nuggets for a Successful Training Program
* Workshop Training Checklist
* Workshop Planning Template
* Workshop Design Matrix
* Session Plan/Module Outline Template
* Resource Bibliography for Further Follow up on Selected Topics (Web and Text Based)

The Engaging Exercises manual will be an invaluable addition to your toolbox.

I really want to find a new home for these manuals and hope that you are on the lookout for a new resource for your library.

The hardcopy manual has been available for purchase for $29.95 US (plus $10 shipping). Up until October 15th (or when all 7 are sold) you can purchase the manual for $20 US (plus $10 shipping).

You can purchase it at the special price by paying by PayPal here, or by calling me at 1-866-217-1960 (payments by Visa or personal cheque). For more information on the manual and to see the table to contents, click here.

I will also be offering a 1.5 hour teleseminar "Engaging Exercises for Your Teams and Groups" on Friday October 19th from 12-1:30pm (EST). Participants will receive an electronic copy of the manual and we will spend our time looking at tips for integrating exercises into your program, some of the exercises in the manual and other exercises you may consider using. There is a maximum of 10 on this call, so that we have time to address your questions about exercises. The cost for this 1.5 hour program, including an electronic copy of the manual is $59 US. You can register and pay by PayPal for the October 19th call here, or send me an email to Also feel free to pick up the phone and leave me a message toll free at 1-866-217-1960. I hope that you will consider joining us!


Jennifer Britton, PCC, CHRP, CPT
Potentials Realized
Group Coaching Essentials
Toll Free: 1-866-217-1960
Email: jennifer{at}

What's Your Biggest Challenge?

I have been very encouraged by the number of emails I receive from subscribers and readers of the blog who have indicated that my posts have been very useful in their work with groups - workshops, retreats or group coaching. I know that there are still many questions out there from readers and I would like to start featuring your questions here on the blog on a regular basis.

What's your biggest challenge right now related to launching or running your own program? What is one question you have that you can't seem to find an answer to?

Please email me with any questions you have related to group coaching, workshops or retreats. My vision is to dedicate 3-4 posts a month to your questions. So whether it is related to exercises, marketing, skills or tools, please send your questions to me at

Some of the posts I have planned for the next few weeks include:
* Dealing with Difficult Participants
* Backpocket Exercises
* Teleconferencing tools

I look forward to hearing from you! Have a great start to the week,

Jennifer Britton, PCC, CHRP, CPT
Potentials Realized
Group Coaching Essentials
Toll Free: 1-866-217-1960

Friday, September 21, 2007

Give Yourself Enough Time to Market a Program

My focus in August was around marketing here at the blog and in recent weeks I've received a number of questions regarding how much time should you give to market a group program.

The first place you want to look at is "Knowing Your Client". Who are your clients? What are their needs? How much time to do they need to fit new programs into their schedules? Are they paying for it, or can it be funded out of a professional development budget (which will always require more time to get the funding organized)?

In person programs usually require more time to fill than teleseminar programs, and multi-day programs more time than 1-2 hour sessions. In fact, in recent days I have been working on setting my in-person retreat dates for spring 2008 (April). Given that these retreats are outside major urban centres, participants will need to make arrangements for accomodation and travel.

Teleseminars or telephone based group coaching programs may have a much shorter marketing timeframe (2-6 weeks), especially if you run the program regularly throughout the year as I do with my Group Coaching Essentials program.

One last tip -- spend some time creating a marketing roadmap, spelling out exactly what initiatives you are going to undertake, any costs associated, contact details and of course timeframes. Refer to your roadmap on a regular basis and track your results. Which marketing initiatives are working better? Which ones don't seem to be netting anything? Remember, marketing is about momentum and getting the word out on a consistent basis -- it takes the average consumer 7-11 exposures to a message before they will even consider purchasing.

Have a great weekend,

Jennifer Britton, PCC, CPCC, CHRP, CPT
Potentials Realized
Toll Free: 1-866-217-1960
Email: jennifer{at}

Monday, September 17, 2007

Workshop, Retreat and Group Coaching Program Checklist

My trip last week was a reminder of how important it is to be organized when you are running programs away from your home base. For several years I ran programs in countries outside of where I was based. This meant that I had to get pretty savvy on making sure that everything was ready well in advance to the workshop or retreat. There really was no running back to the office to pick up something that I had forgotten.

I developed a pretty in-depth checklist of things to remember prior to a program and wanted to share some of these with you today.

Here are some of the pieces of my checklist that has been tried and tested throughout the years:

* Venue Arrangements (see my separate post on this topic)

* Participant Materials
a. Make Sure you have sufficient copies of materials for all participants plus one
b. Copy of handout/participant material for yourself
c. Your own design notes
d. Materials required for any exercises

* Computer and LCD Projector
a. Necessary powercords
b. Mouse/Pointer as needed
c. All passwords as needed

* Miscellaneous training kit:
* Glue Sticks, Flip chart paper, masking tape, blue tack, index cards of varying sizes,
* post it notes, markers, pens, pencils, stickers,
* participant name tags or name cards
* Prizes for participants
* Clock/watch to keep the time

Some of these materials may be provided by the venue -- check with them, as well as what additional charges they may levy.

Are there any other items you add to your travelling training kit? Please feel free to comment below.

Have a wonderful week,

Jennifer Britton, PCC, CHRP, CPT
Potentials Realized
Group Coaching Essentials - the next Group Coaching Essentials program starts on Thursdays from 8-9:15pm (EST) on October 11th.
Toll free: 1-866-217-1960
Email: jennifer{AT}

Sunday, September 09, 2007

On the road again

What are some of your major business goals this year? One of mine this year was to get back to more in-person corporate work. Many of you may know that I have a 2 year old son and I have been blessed to be able to continue my work while he has been growing mostly by phone. I wouldn't have changed anything. The last few months have seen me get back to one of my other passions - which is travel. For many years as a senior and virtual manager my work involved heavy travel -- by 2004 I'd reached my limit on hotel rooms and flights, but after 3 years off it's great to hit the road again.

I'm writing tonight from the beautiful Western city of Calgary. I'm on the road all week this week doing some corporate work here in Calgary, Vancouver and Victoria. I always find that travel brings a new perspective and when you can travel for work it gives a different view of the cities/countries you work in.

What's your favorite part of travel? Your least favorite part?

I must admit that travelling while running a business really puts your business systems under a microscope - especiallly when you are continuing to serve clients (by phone) and run programs by phone. This week will be a test for me -- the Workshop and Retreat Essentials program is starting on Wednesday evening from 8-9:15pm (EST). I'll be calling in from the road. If you have been sitting on the fence for joining me on this one, I hope that you still will as space still remains. The best way to reach me will be by leaving me a toll free voice message at 1-866-217-1960 or by email at jennifer{at} I will get back to you before the program starts Wednesday evening. I'll actually be off for the better part of Wednesday, working with my coaching clients by phone.

One system I developed a few years ago was a pretty extensive checklist for preparing for workshops and retreats. In my former life as a manager it was not uncommon to fly to other countries to deliver workshop and retreat programs. And there is no turning back to pick something up at the office when you're in another city or country. I hope to do a blog post on some of my lessons learned and my checklist, so stay tuned.

Hope that you have a great week!

With best wishes,

Jennifer Britton, PCC, CPCC, CHRP
Group Coaching Essentials
Toll Free: 1-866-217-1960
Email: jennifer{at}potentialsrealized{dot}com

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Selecting A Venue for Your Group Program

Selecting a Venue for Your Workshop, Retreat or Group Coaching Program
Copyright 2007 - Jennifer Britton, All Rights Reserved

Selecting the right venue for your group program - whether it is a workshop, retreat or group coaching program - can be a time consuming and challenging process for those who are not logistically savvy. Here are some things to consider when selecting your next venue:

1.Ease of accessibility for your participants – Consider the needs of your participants:
* Is there parking?
* Is it free/at cost?
* What modes of transport will participants be able to take to get there?

2.The environment
* What is the feel of the venue?
* Does it match the environment you want to create?
* Is there sufficient space for you to undertake the exercises you want to do?
* What changes if any will need to be made with the room layout?
* Are there additional rooms available if you need breakout sessions?
* What is their policy regarding participants using other parts of the facility – any areas out of bounds?

3. Room booking charges
* How much will it cost to retain the space?
* Are deposits refundable? What is their payment policy?
* What is their cancellation policy?
* If numbers change near the towards the launch of the program, what impact will this have on pricing?

4. Insurance – Many facilities require that you hold sufficient liability insurance. What are their requirements? What insurance do you need to put in place?

5. Meals
* What dietary requirements do your participants have? Food allergies?
* Can your needs be met by the facility? In your budget?
* What are their offerings/special packages?
* What are the exact times for breaks and other meals?
* What is the venue’s policy on ordering or providing lunch?
* Will there be sufficient time with your schedule to have all participants eat leisurely through the lunch period? What if numbers change before the program? Can meal amounts be modified? Up to what date?

6. Equipment Rental – often venues will provide certain pieces of equipment (flip charts, markers) at cost or sometimes free. Clarify what is included in the room rental, and what might need to be rented at additional cost. Also inquire what their policy is regarding bringing your equipment in from your organization – is this allowed?

These are some of the nitty gritty issues you may want to consider as you select your next venue. Are there other things you consider when selecting your group program venues? Please feel free to comment below.

With best wishes,

Jennifer Britton, PCC, CHRP, CPT
Group Coaching Essentials
Workshop and Retreat Essentials starts Wed Sept 12th (8-9:15 pm EST Wed by phone: Sept 12 and 26, Oct 3 and 10/07)
Email: jennifer{at}
Toll Free: 1-866-217-1960

To reproduce or reprint this article, please contact Jennifer at jennifer{at}

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Group Facilitation Tip: Preparation

Preparation is a trainer or coaches best friend. With today being back to school for many in North America, the whole topic of preparation has been forefront in the media. Today I am spending a large amount of my day getting prepared for a very exciting corporate contract I am working on - one that will have me travelling next week to Calgary, Vancouver and Victoria on the West Coast of Canada.

I often get asked how much time do you need to prepare for a group program. Industry standards in the area of classroom based training have often used a 40:1 ratio, that is for every one hour of classroom based training that is created, 40 hours of work goes into the development (including session outlines, facilitators guides etc). But does this hold true for group coaching?

One of the main distinctions between group coaching and workshops is the difference in who holds the agenda, which from my experience, seems to have a large impact on my preparation time leading up to either a group coaching session or workshop. In traditional training, the agenda or objectives are typically set by the organization, and often participants (in more participatory learning environments), according to the KSAs (Knowledge, Skills and Abilities) that the program is to achieve or improve. Preparation in this case involves setting the objectives, developing the sessions and evaluation structure, and really keeping the goals/objectives out front during the entire session.

Group Coaching takes a different tact and I find has a softer focus. In keeping aligned with the coaching profession, the coach/facilitator is there to hold the client's agenda (the client in this case being the individual members of the group). Practically speaking what this usually means for my preparation is a focus on getting to know the participants as much as possible prior to the group coaching session. For the more extended programs I run (1 month - 90 days) I meet with each participant by phone to find out more about their expectations about the program, what they want to acheive and take away. This then gives me an idea of the clients agenda, which we can dance with, within the context of the program.

I often get asked what's the balance bewteen structure and the client's agenda in group coaching. From personal experience, I tend to structure my programs along thematic lines (i.e. worklife balance, business success, leadership, organization issues), finding that this gives the group more tractiion and a common purpose. There is still lots of room for going in many different directions. While each week has a different theme there is still flexibiltiy in meeting the clients' agendas as we move through the session. Again, it's a softer focus and less reliance on a hard "schedule".

As a group coaching facilitator it's always a fine balance and dance between the structure, and meeting the needs and agendas of the clients in the hear and now of the session. It's about being unattached to the actual timeline of the session, while creating a framework for the clients to explore and move forward with their own agendas. Just as you will find as a coach each session is going to turn out differently.

I'm going to get into more practical preparation tips in future blog posts. What's your greatest question related to preparation for workshops, retreats or group coaching programs? Please feel free to comment below.

Have a great week,

Jennifer Britton, PCC, CHRP, CPT
Group Coaching Essentials
Workshop and Retreat Essentials starts Wednesday September 12th at 8pm (EST). Group Calls held Sept 12, 26, October 3 and 10/07, plus a fifth call in November. For more info or to register, click here.
Toll Free: 1-866-217-1960
Email: jennifer{at}