Five Questions Focus — Workshop Presenter Geoff Schoenberg

Five Questions Focus — Workshop Presenter Geoff Schoenberg

We are running a series of interviews with our workshop presenters as our District 73 Annual Convention draws closer. The first of these is with Geoff Schoenberg, a specialist in leadership and groups.

With a PhD focusing on the interactions of individual behaviours, and group effectiveness in non-profit committees, Geoff has presented in Canada, USA, Denmark, Norway, UK, New Zealand, and Australia. Here, he answers five questions about himself, communication, and his convention workshop.


What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Before thinking of a solution, make sure you clearly identify and define the problem. There have been many great solutions created that don’t work because they don’t match the actual problem.


What can your audience expect to take away from your workshop?

You should leave my workshop with a better understanding of the issues that may be affecting your groups, committee, boards, etc. You can only start to resolve groups’ issues once you know what they are. The workshop focuses on group dynamics such as cohesion, conflict, and control and will help answer questions like “How can conflict be good?” while providing tools to engage in productive conflict.


Is there a communication/leadership issue that you see common to many people? And what is it?

I have seen many Toastmasters give evaluations and say something like, “It was such a great speech and you’re such a great speaker, I just couldn’t find anything to improve on” or “I don’t know, it was good, but maybe, there’s this one thing, that I, maybe, um, it’s just me, but might be able to be improved.” People want you to provide constructive, thoughtful feedback. Too often people devalue their own opinion or are scared of criticism. In rehearsing my international speech at a club for an upcoming division contest, it was the feedback from a second-time guest that was the most influential in strengthening my speech. As long as you do not make the feedback personal, I want to hear your opinion.


Who has been a mentor in your life?

Professor David Legg from Mount Royal University in Calgary has mentored me. He does a great job of being supportive while also asking challenging questions about big decisions and encouraging me to consider perspectives I had not considered. 


What’s the last book you read that changed you?

“Hamilton: The Revolution” by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter. This book maps the evolution and creation of the hit Broadway musical “Hamilton”. I believe “Hamilton” is one of the greatest and most revolutionary pieces of art created this century. The book helped detail the amount of work, thought, collaboration, and trial-and-error that goes into making a piece of creative genius. I was reminded that the best project may be inspired by a spark, but it takes a forest of hard work to create a fire.


Geoff’s workshop at the annual convention is entitled, “Leading as a Group: How to Harness the Power of Individuals.”

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