Sample Agendas

Short Agenda: for Conference & Workshop Materials

3-Hour Training: Detailed Agenda

1-Day Training: Detailed Agenda

2-Day Training: Detailed Agenda


Short Agenda: For conference and workshop materials is a very short agenda with basic timelines of the kind often used to give participants an overview of the schedule. If you need a shorter agenda, you can just pick what you want.

Detailed agendas: Primarily for those of you who are planning conferences and/or workshops to help you determine which length of training will best meet your needs. Also if you like, you can select items from the detailed agenda appropriate to your event that you think would be of interest to your audience to tailor the agenda you publish.

For a brief summary of the similarities and differences between trainings of various lengths, including conference keynotes, go to Comparison of Content Based on Length of Workshop


Short Agenda

The Traditional “War Model” for Communication:

The physiology of defensiveness & the dynamics of power struggle

Common misuses of our three basic forms of communication

Break: [If 1-day or 2-day training]

The Powerful Non-Defensive Communication Model for Communication:

Shifting the power dynamics

Non-Defensive Questions

Lunch: [If 1-day or 2-day training] or: Break: [If 3-hour training]

Non-Defensive Questions, cont.

Break: [If 1-day or 2-day training]

Non-defensive Statements

Non-Defensive Predictions


Three-Hour Training: Detailed Agenda

Part I: The Traditional “War Model” for Communication: [45 minutes]

An Overview of:

Why defensiveness is so pervasive, what is it’s function?

The physiology of defensiveness

The dynamics of power struggle

Identifying 2 common misuses of each of our three basic forms of communication: questions, statements, and predictions.


Part II: The Powerful Non-Defensive Communication Model for Communication:

An overview of all key parts of the non-defensive process will be covered, including:

Shifting the power dynamics: [15 minutes]

Non-Defensive Questions: [25 minutes]

Intention, voice tone & body language

Group Exercise: The Impact of Intention, Tone, & Body Language

Break [15 minutes]

Non-Defensive Questions, cont: [25 minutes]

3 formats for asking questions

Examples and one role-play to demonstrate application of the process, plus time for Q & A

Non-defensive Statements: [35 minutes]

4 formats for asking making statements

Examples and one role-play to demonstrate application of the process, plus time for Q & A

Non-Defensive Predictions: [15 minutes]

Examples and discussion of one of the two formats for making predictions: Limit Setting

Time for Q & A


1-Day Training: Detailed Agenda

This agenda is based on a six-hour training, plus an hour for lunch. For an 8-hour training, add 25% additional time to each component.

Variation in Agenda: In a one-day workshop, the amount of time it takes to practice the question-asking process cuts down the time for learning and discussion of the non-defensive statements and predictions. While the practice very valuable, some groups prefer to eliminate the question-asking practice to have more time to focus learning the concepts and skills for all three forms of communcation. This decision can be made in advance, however, it is often more appropriate to make this decision during the actual workshop.


Introductions: [15 Minutes]

Brief overview of material, and time for facilitator(s) and participants to introduce themselves and briefly share expectations


The Traditional “War Model” for Communication: [1.5 hours]

Why defensiveness is so pervasive, what is it’s function?

Exercise: The Cost of Defensiveness

The physiology of defensiveness

How it works-“Victim Mind-Set,” “Blame-Game” and other dynamics

Exercise:The Creation of Adversarial Relationships

The dynamics of power struggle

Identifying 2 common misuses of each of our three basic forms of communication: questions, statements, and predictions.

Break: [15 minutes]


The Powerful Non-Defensive Communication (PNDC)Model:

Shifting the Power Dynamics: 15 Minutes

Role Play & Mat Work: Demonstrating the difference in power dynamics by comparing the War Model for communication to the PNDC model to conversation

Non-Defensive Questions [45 minutes]

Compare and contrast traditional methods with non-defensive methods, using role-play, story and discussion

Examining the dynamics of intention, voice tone, and body language, using story and role-playing to demonstrate the skills

Examining four types of questions that get quickly at the heart of a matter, using relevant stories to clarify their application in actual interactions


Lunch: [1 hour] Some groups decide on a shorter lunch or a working lunch to have more time to work together.


Non-Defensive Questions, cont.

Practice: [30 minutes] Participants will work in pairs or small groups and practice the four types of questions on using their own examples

Debrief: [30 minutes] A few practice pairs or groups will share their question examples for discussion and feedback to refine skills

Non-Defensive Statements: [45 minutes]

Compare and contrast traditional methods with non-defensive methods, using role-play, mat work, story, and discussion

The dynamics of voice tone and body language, using role-play scenario’s to demonstrate.

Discussion of the four formats for a non-defensive statement, including giving feedback to others and stating one’s own position, including reasoning, feelings, and/or beliefs.

Break: [15 minutes ]

Non-Defensive Statements, continued: [15 minutes]

Exercise: [15 Minutes] Participants will work in the large group using an example or two from the small group Questions exercise and practice, and discuss and refine the non-defensive statement making process.

Non-Defensive Predictions: [30 minutes]

Briefly compare and contrast traditional methods with non-defensive methods, using story, role-play and discussion

Present an overview of two types of prediction that create greater respect and reciprocity

Apply the process to one or two examples from the group


Close: [15 minutes]

Practice Plans & Raising the glass ceiling on individual performance and group effectiveness



2-Day Training: Detailed Agenda

This agenda is based on a six-hour training, with an hour for lunch, both days. For an 8-hour training per day, add 25% additional time to each component.

Variation in Agenda: When organizations offer the2-day workshop to their members, but want them to have the option of only coming for one-day, we can present all of the material, using discussion, role-play, and mat work, and then have all of the skill-building practice the next day. Some groups chose that format even if all participants are coming both days.

Content: Most of the content is essentially the same as in the 1-day workshop. The difference is having more time to internalize major shifts in how questions are used in a non-defensive process, including additional time for examples, questions, role-playing, practice and refining skills.

There are also some key elements in the two-day workshop that are not included in the one-day workshop, such as discussion of "ptifalls in contemporary communication methods, such as" empathetic listening," "active listening," and "I messages," as well as identifying four forms of contradiction in what people say.


Day One:

Introductions: [30 Minutes] Depending on circumstances, introductions can be shorter

Brief overview of material, and time for facilitator(s) and participants to introduce themselves and briefly share expectations


The Traditional “War Model” for Communication: [2.5 hours]

Why defensiveness is so pervasive, what is it’s function?

Exercise: The Cost of Defensiveness

The physiology of defensiveness

How it works-“Victim Mind-Set,” “Blame-Game” and other dynamics

Exercise:The Creation of Adversarial Relationships

The dynamics of power struggle

Break: [15 minutes]

Exercise: Participants Self-Evaluation of Defensive styles

Identification, role-play, and discussion of six pervasive defensive modes and associated personality types, 3 aggressive and 3 passive

Discussion of results of Self-Evaluation Exercise for participants and for organizational culture when relevant

Identifying 2 common misuses of each of our three basic forms of communication: questions, statements, and predictions.


Lunch: [1 hour] Some groups decide on a shorter lunch or a working lunch to have more time to work together.


The Powerful Non-Defensive Communication (PNDC)Model:

Shifting the Power Dynamics: 30 Minutes

Role Play & Mat Work: Demonstrating the difference in power dynamics by comparing the War Model for communication to the PNDC model to conversation, including two role-plays and discussion of power dyamics


Non-Defensive Questions [1 hour, 45 minutes]

Compare and contrast traditional methods with non-defensive methods, using role-play, story and discussion

Examining the dynamics of intention, voice tone, and body language, using story, role playing and audience practice to demonstrate the skills

A discussion of common pitfalls that occur when using current methods of communication such as" empathetic listening."

Break: [15 minutes]

Examining four types of questions that get quickly at the heart of a matter, using relevant stories to clarify their application in actual interactions

Practice: [45 minutes] Participants will work in pairs or small groups and practice the four types of questions on using their own examples

Close: [15 minutes] Participant Q & A and comments, and facilitator's closing summary


Day Two:

Non-Defensive Questions, cont. [1 hour]

Debrief: Approximately 5 to 10 of the practice pair or groups will share their question examples for in-depth discussion and feedback to refine skills. This process allows other group members to benefit from hearing a range of examples so they have more "mini models" for applying the skills. This discussionalso often opens up new insights and deeper learning of the concepts.

Break: [15 minutes]

Non-Defensive Statements: [1 hour, 45 minutes]

Compare and contrast traditional methods with non-defensive methods, using role-play, mat work, story, and discussion

The dynamics of voice tone and body language, using role-play scenario’s to demonstrate.

Identifying 3 pitfalls when using current methods of active listening

Identifying 4 forms of contradiction that need to be addressed when giving feedback to others

Discussion of the four formats for a non-defensive statement, including giving feedback to others and stating one’s own position, including reasoning, feelings, and/or beliefs.

Two simple ways to remember how to use non-defensive statements


Lunch: [1 hour] Some groups decide on a shorter lunch or a working lunch to have more time to work together.


Non-Defensive Statements, continued: [1 hour]

Exercise: [30 Minutes] Participants will work in pairs or small groups and practice the four formats for statements on using their own examples

Debrief: [30 minutes] A few practice pairs or groups will share their statement examples for discussion and feedback to refine skills

Non-Defensive Predictions: [30 minutes]

Briefly compare and contrast traditional methods with non-defensive methods, using story, role-play and discussion

Present an overview of two types of prediction that create greater respect and reciprocity

Apply the process to one or two examples from the group

Close: [15 minutes]

Practice Plans & Raising the glass ceiling on individual performance and group effectiveness


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Powerful Non-Defensive Communication is a trademarked name. © 1994-2016 Sharon Strand Ellison

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