Session 3: Effective Communication

Date: November 1, 2013
Location: RTKL: 2101 L St NW Suite 200, Washington, DC
Time: 12:00 pm – 5:00pm
Led by: Amaya Labrador, Associate AIA, EDAC, Lean Six Sigma CE & Aimee Woodall, AIA, LEED AP 

Session 3 PDF


The third session of the Christopher Kelley Leadership Development Program (CKLDP) was held at RTKL on Friday, November 1. The topic of discussion, led by Amaya Labrador and Aimee Woodall, was Effective Communication. The session focused on a series of interactive programs that encouraged exploration in effective verbal, non-verbal, and digital communication, and concluded with networking tips practiced over an in-house happy hour celebration.

Following an old-fashioned game of ‘Telephone’, the communication session kicked off with an exciting and energetic workshop titled The Human Connection: Bring you Presentations to Life!, by Carol Doscher of Graceworks Inc. Graceworks is a public speaking, training, and coaching firm that focuses on clients in the building and real estate industry, and Carol is the President and CEO (Chief Encouragement Officer).

Carol’s presentation was so much fun, and had the entire class participating in presentation techniques that include BIG BOLD movements and most importantly, focus on individual connections. Most importantly, Carol taught us that the presentation is about the audience, not about the presenter. Her coaching techniques included reliance on minimal graphics (a concept that is sometimes difficult for architects and designers to turn away from), rather focus on telling the story of the project, the sales pitch, the team, etc. It was easy to see Carol’s background in theater during the coaching and training, and Carol encouraged all of the CKLDP participants to reach beyond the podium or the Power Point to connect with their clients, audiences, even peer groups. The Graceworks portion of the program ended with eager volunteers from the CKLDP (Michael Rouse and Jeff McBride) each sharing with the class the story of why they love what they do. It was entertaining, inspiring, and confidence-boosting all at once.


Following the workshop by Graceworks, Amaya and Aimee presented a short group of slides describing non-verbal communication and body language. It was interesting to compare the overlapping themes between Carol’s tips on human connections and some of the scientific research that Amaya had compiled on body language, human psychology, and facial expressions.

Facial Exp

Keeping with the theme of communication, RTKL Firmwide Communications experts Laura Ewan and Ashley Ross provided insight into the many forms of digital communication that are popular in the age of social media. Ashley presented the most popular social media and digital resources of today, including Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter. She debunked some social media myths and also spoke in general about professional guidelines and etiquette. Laura Ewan then described some of the ways that RTKL uses digital communication and social media resources. Laura continued the presentation by focusing on how emerging professionals can utilize digital communication in a leadership role.

digital comms

Laura’s message was clear – develop your own brand and strive for consistency across all forms of social media that you use. While social media is an effective way to receive news and updates, it is equally effective for sharing and conveying your message and your motivation. She suggested that each of us should think of ourselves as a company, and brand ourselves accordingly based on what we want people to know and remember about us. Laura suggested that development of a personal brand was one of the most effective ways to engage and network with people you want to know and work with. In doing so, Laura and Ashley explained that as emerging leaders, we are all part of the business development leg of our firms. Lastly, they encouraged CKLDP participants to participate in AIA tweet-chats, help on the first Tuesday of every month.

The day ended at RTKL with Business Development professionals Jeanne Wood and Daniela Gaither providing tips on networking and developing a good elevator pitch. CKLDP participants broke into teams for a hands-on approach to write and deliver their elevator pitches, and Jeanne explained how important it is to follow up with new contacts within 24 hours-to-one-week after networking events. Her final summary recapped themes from the previous programs of the day, repeating again the importance of human connection and relationship development as the building blocks of effective communication.