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T21: Find Your Voice

T21: Find Your Voice

Monday, Oct 23, from 08:30 to 12:00, E141

Do you get tongue tied at important meetings? Do you wonder why your ideas are never adopted? Do you wish your colleagues and clients understood you better? In the first part of this tutorial we will examine strategies and techniques for communicating, regardless of methodology. You will learn how to analyze the communication situation and your audience. With these techniques you will be able to identify in 5 minutes or less the communication premise and style of your audience. Armed with this knowledge you will be able to adapt your own style to ensure the message you send is the message you intend. The second part of this tutorial is about teamwork. Working as a team is inevitable in modern software projects, but sometimes teams struggle to collaborate effectively. In this tutorial you will learn how to:

  • recognize the signs that something is wrong
  • improve team collaboration
  • build trust amongst team members
  • apply a variety of group problem solving methods
  • facilitate decisions that everyone supports

In short, you will learn to be a leader while still being part of the team. At least one third of this tutorial is devoted to practical exercises that are fun and educational.

Introductory:  Participants should have a desire to learn new skills and techniques to communicate effectively in conversations and in team settings.


  1. Identify one's own speaking style from one of six common styles
  2. Able to identify speaking style and premise of another person
  3. Apply techniques and skills to adapt one's own style
  4. Understand the lifecycle of a team
  5. Apply methods and techniques to build trust
  6. Apply a variety of problem solving methods
  7. Learn and practice facilitation skills

Format: 65% lecture, 35% practical exercises. There will be two major interactive exercises. Both exercises will involve the entire class breaking up into groups of 4 to 7. The first exercise will require each group to prepare a 1 to 2 minute "conversation" on a topic provided by the instructor while the others listen and then write notes with feedback. The exercise will involve identifying communication styles and practicing adapting one's own style. The second exercise will have the group use construction paper, popsicle sticks, and glue to build something (see Workshop from OOPSLA 2004). Each group member will have an assigned role, either as moderator (one per group) or participant, and each participant will have an assigned behavior style such as aggressive, passive, negative, etc. This is based on a typical meeting situation in many projects (e.g., for requirements elicitation or design brainstorming) but with a shortened time-frame.

Gail E. Harris, Instantiated Software Inc.: Gail has 18 years experience working in the IT field. Her work as a Project Manager, Business Analyst, and Lead Designer for many projects, large and small, has required a finely tuned approach to communicating in a wide variety of situations. In negotiating situations Gail has been able to develop contracts with which all parties found to be not just "satisfactory" but even to their benefit. In design meeting situations Gail has facilitated solutions where every team members is eager to implement the design. Many project team members have said, after the end of a project, that they would like to work with Gail again.

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