Pratt Institute Architecture and Planning

P R A T T    I N S T I T U T E
Graduate Center for Planning and the Environment

November 12, 2011
Professor: Lola Cohen

Be it a presentation at a contentious Public Hearing, making a proposal to a prospective client or employer, offering expert witness testimony or talking to the print or broadcast media; both the planner and the actor must capture and control the attention of his or her audience. Communication skills basic to public speaking and planning presentations including relaxation, concentration and motivation when incorporated into planning work will significantly increase the likelihood of the message being conveyed in the most effective manner.

Communication Skills…

  • The exercises described below were developed for the craft of acting, however they will also stimulate the imagination and the senses enhancing planners’ capacity to:
  • Increase the level of trust, be convincing and develop an immediate rapport with audiences, Boards, developers, lawyers, the media and the general public — raising listener energy levels and interest.
  • Maintain concentration amidst meeting, presentation or conference room dynamics preserving confidence, focus and spontaneity.
  • Provide insights and techniques for formulating strategies at meetings and presentations and for conveying conviction about your material.
  • Transition to the behavior and demeanor most apropos to the current circumstance gracefully and effectively.
  • Convey meaning to the physical objects of the presentation such as map boards, power point, microphone, eye glasses, laser pointer and using them smoothly and effectively.
  • Practice, and deliver reports, opinions, testimony, question responses or other presentations convincingly with power clarity and conviction.
  • Expand strategic options by employing an enhanced range and subtlety of advocacy skills with commitment to the important planning issues.


The exercises which will be demonstrated include:

Relaxation to minimize physical and emotional tension and their impact on expression and performance.
Sense memory to stimulate the imagination in order to strategically plan desired results.
Improvisation to develop spontaneity finding the behavior to field the curve balls reality throws at you moment to moment.
Monologues or statements to demonstrate and present believable realities which will be delivered by the participants and critiqued.


The Communication Skills for Planners © training will discuss how and when to utilize these techniques throughout your careers, (particularly as Planners when you know your audience may not want to hear what you are saying or does not agree with you) and immediately prior to your own future presentations, meetings, dissertation defense, NIMBY groups and in all negotiation situations or appearances.

Lola Cohen
Communication Skills for Planners
636 Wittenberg Rd., Mt. Tremper, NY 12457
Ph 845 679-9765 Fax 845 679 3715 E-mail