Excellence in Communication: Presenting as a Leader - DC Course

  • Excellence in Communication
  • As a business leader, you can’t escape the need to communicate. Building your presence, persuasion skills and the ability to inspire can elevate your career path, and propel your organization to success. Learn how to expertly analyze your audiences to ensure your messages resonate, and how to easily adapt messages to different audiences for maximum impact. 

  • At a Glance

    Harnessing exceptional communication skills enables you to deliver confident and successful presentations, lead panel discussions and inspire your team to work towards common goals. Experiential learning conducted by true experts in their fields is a practice-focused way to bolster your influence through effective communication.

    Program Overview:

    The University of Virginia Darden School of Business and The Communication Center have partnered to combine academic excellence with communication coaching expertise. The result is a program that immediately enhances your business communication skills. Excellence in Communication: Presenting as a Leader is designed for managers, directors and rising business leaders to help enhance communication skills through relevant practice.

    This two-day, interactive, Washington, D.C.-based course equips you with critical communication skill sets to prepare you for future communication opportunities, both internal and external. From presenting with confidence and clarity to structuring ideas and messages that are persuasive, you'll obtain the personalized feedback and strategies critical to communicating with presence and authority. 

    Where You'll Excel:

    • Organize information and define key messages clearly and succinctly.
    • Generate buy-in by connecting to the unique interests of different audiences. 
    • Analyze different audiences and determine the "What's In It For Me" factor.
    • Maintain the flow and focus of any presentation.
    • Craft effective openings and closings that leave lasting impressions.
    • Address challenging questions with confidence and control.
    • Think quickly under pressure, using pertinent and persuasive formulas.
    • Become more polished and persuasive in delivery and tone.
    • Use body language, pacing and eye contact to capture audience attention and maximize credibility.

    Schedule & Topics

    This two-day intensive session takes place at The Communication Center, an executive training firm, in Washington, D.C. Each day you will have the opportunity to practice realistic communication scenarios on camera.

    Following each recording session, you'll receive constructive critiques from experienced executive communication coaches. On-camera practice is experiential learning, and a proven method to help you immediately apply learned skills to your roles and responsibilities at your organization. Topics include:  

    • Core concepts of executive communication
    • Advanced audience analysis
    • Storytelling
    • Reliable presentation structure
    • Message development at the executive level
    • Question and answer methodology 
    • Best practices for being a panelist


    Throughout an intensive two-day program, your communication skills are transformed to have more depth, self-awareness, cogency and finesse. Specific outcomes you'll take back to your office include:

    • A heightened comprehension for audience analysis
    • The ability to communicate a stronger call to action
    • An enhanced awareness for non-verbal cues given by you and received from others
    • The value of storytelling skills
    • A comprehensive toolkit for message development that is adaptable for various target audiences
    • Methods for answering difficult questions and presenting persuasive content
    • The confidence to participate in professional panel discussions


    The ideal audience will include managers, directors, and rising leaders who want to polish presentation abilities in order to showcase leadership skills in a variety of scenarios including conferences, board meetings, briefings, and panel presentations.


    Darden Faculty



    June West
    June West teaches strategic communication in several Darden Executive Education programs, as well as First Year "Management Communication" in the MBA program at Darden and Second Year electives in special topics in organizational communication. She is the University faculty liaison to the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia, and team-teaches in the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy. West also directs a Darden faculty team that teaches in the summer orientation program for the Secretary of Defense Corporate Fellows program that places active-duty military officers in corporations for a one-year fellowship.

    West was instrumental in the 2003 inception of the Darden/Curry Partnership for Leaders in Education (PLE). This partnership between the graduate schools of business and education was formed to strategically combine the most innovative thinking in business and education to provide education leaders with the knowledge, tools, skills and resources necessary for managing and governing schools and school systems. West served as the academic director and today is an active faculty member in the PLE's School Turnaround Specialist Program, now the most established turnaround program in the country. She consults with school districts on developing and communicating strategic vision and building effective coalitions. She also consults with universities throughout the country whose schools of business and education are creating similar partnerships.

    Prior to joining Darden, Professor West worked with government and non-profits, and has taught business communication at the University of Tennessee, Lehigh's College of Business and Economics, the Stern School of Business at New York University and Seton Hall University.

    As a communication consultant, West has worked with executives in a variety of organizations, universities and public school districts. Some of her clients have included AT&T; IBM; Clark Construction; Digital Equipment; Binney & Smith, a division of Hallmark; The Heritage Foundation; Jefferson Area Board for Aging; Louisiana Department of Education; Pennsylvania Power & Light; Occidental Chemical Corporation; and Mississippi State University Colleges of Business and Education.

    West lives in Charlottesville, Virginia, and has two sons, Benjamin and Nathan.

    The Communication Center Faculty

    Jeanne Meserve
    Director of Training
    The Communication Center®

    Jeanne Meserve has woven words and images into compelling stories as an anchor and correspondent for CNN and ABC News, winning two Emmy Awards, a Peabody Award and an Edward R. Murrow Award. She now travels the world helping clients from top corporations, government, and the non-profit and educational sectors tell their stories as director of training for The Communication Center. Meserve is an accomplished moderator and public speaker, and is president of Shore Road Multimedia (www.shoreroadmultimedia.com), a communications firm recognized for its expertise in homeland security. She is a senior fellow at the George Washington University Homeland Security Policy Institute and a member of the Aspen Institute Homeland Security Advisory Group. At CNN, Meserve covered intelligence, law enforcement, cyber, aviation, border and port security. She was the first to report on the devastating flooding in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, and also covered the Washington snipers, the Elizabeth Smart kidnapping, the Virginia Tech shootings and the international tug of war over Elian Gonzales. She anchored CNN's worldwide coverage of the Yitzhak Rabin assassination and the death of Princess Diana. As a state department correspondent for ABC News, she reported from China, the Middle East and Europe. She continues to work as a freelance journalist.

    Nan Tolbert
    Executive Communication Coach
    The Communication Center®

    Nan Tolbert has more than 15 years of experience in presentation and media coaching. With substantial background in broadcasting and public relations, she lends her practical and professional experience to clients around the country, helping them to develop messages, prepare for interviews and rehearse presentations. Nan began her career almost 20 years ago as a television news reporter for a southern CBS affiliate. Later she moved to the corporate world where she was the training director and vice president of communications for a national franchise company in Dallas, Texas. While there she dealt with presentation development as well as media inquiries. Over the course of her career, her work and her words have appeared in The New York Times, Entrepreneur, CBS News Sunday Morning, Money, The Washington Post and CNN.

    Carol Buckland 
    Executive Communication Coach
    The Communication Center® 

    Carol Buckland, an award-winning veteran of the broadcast news industry, brings more than three decades of professional experience to The Communication Center. As a senior news writer at CNN, she specialized in political coverage and breaking news events. She also spent more than 10 years as senior editorial producer for Larry King Live. An internationally published author of genre fiction, Carol has conducted numerous writers' workshops and has been a guest lecturer at American University's School of Communication. Carol received a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Connecticut and earned an M.I.A. in International Communications from Columbia's School of International and Public Affairs.

    Steve Piacente 
    Executive Communication Coach
    The Communication Center® 

    Steve Piacente is an award-winning Washington correspondent and novelist. His portfolio includes digital strategy, social media, presentation training and writing instruction. Piacente joined The Communication Center in March 2013 after 10 years at the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), where he served as deputy communications director, responsible for the web and social media team, and before that, as speechwriter for the GSA Administrator. Piacente's 2010 novel, Bella, won the Readers Favorite Gold Medal for Dramatic Fiction. He followed Bella with a prequel titled Bootlicker in September 2012. His reporting work and fiction have also both won competitions sponsored by the National Press Club. Piacente has been a professional writer since graduating from American University in 1976. He started with the Naples Daily News and Lakeland Ledger in Florida, and wound his way back to D.C. in 1985 as Washington correspondent for The Tampa Tribune, and later, the Charleston, South Carolina, Post & Courier. Piacente also teaches communications at his alma mater, and has taught classes on public relations, media and politics, and reporting in other university Washington Semester programs. He holds a B.A. in Communications from American University, and a Masters in Fiction from Johns Hopkins University.

    Shelley Sims 
    Executive Communication Coach
    The Communication Center® 

    Shelley Sims is an executive communication coach, training designer and project manager with more than 15 years of experience. As a lead course designer and executive communication coach, Shelley designs customized programs that include internal and external communication skills for the corporate environment, delivery skills for executives, and general media and presentation skills development. During her years with the company, Shelley has conceived, developed and implemented training programs of national scope. In close consultation with key clients, Shelley works extensively with large U.S. corporations, associations and government industries to train executives and spokespersons for appearances in public forums, presentation settings, press conferences and industry teleconferences. These training programs are devoted to the effective management of public image, message development, media relations, and presentation and testimony techniques. Original designs for one-, two- or three-day training packages have included tailored interactive exercises, videotape recordings, visual aids, training videotapes, resource workbooks and PowerPoint slide shows.

    Location & Accommodations

    The Communication Center

    Washington, D.C.

    Click here for more information on recommended lodging and transportation.

    Tuition & Certificates

    $5,500 covers materials and meals.

    By taking this course, you will earn half a credit toward a Certificate of Specialization.