Stefanie Coleman is a talented trainer, facilitator, and speaker whose passion for teaching shines through in the unique blend of enthusiasm, knowledge, humor, and practical insights she brings to her programs.
Stefanie has led onsite workshops, public seminars, conference breakouts, and keynotes for participants from all different levels and industries.
Raised and educated in both the United States and Germany, she is able to easily move among cultures and connect with people from a host of backgrounds.
Stefanie has worked with such organizations as UPS, Lockheed Martin, Choice Hotels, the Department of Homeland Security, BP, Sara Lee, Toyota, the National Air and Space Administration, Milliman, STIHL, the United States Patent and Trade Office, Astra Zeneca, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and the Office of Naval Intelligence.
Upon graduating from college, Stefanie began her career in hospitality working for a tour operator that catered to U.S. Military personnel stationed overseas. There, she managed both customer service and public relations activities while learning the fundamentals of tourism and guest relations.
Stefanie soon landed a position with the global public relations firm FleishmanHillard in their Frankfurt, Germany office. There, she helped develop and implement public relations programs for clients in the tourism, food and beverage, technology, and healthcare industries. She became adept at organizing events, writing press releases, and serving as a liaison between clients and the media.
The next chapter in her career capitalized on her knowledge of tourism and hospitality, and her skill at managing deadlines and working with clients. Stefanie returned to the United States and took a position as a tour director for international visitors. For four years, she conducted bilingual multi-week tours throughout the lower 48 states.
While introducing visitors to our culture, countryside, cities, and national parks, she was responsible for almost every detail of making their trips a success. This included routing, timing, planning, scheduling, selling, and working with a variety of vendors. Leading tours sharpened her customer service instincts, public speaking skills, interpersonal communication, and ability to manage large groups for weeks at a time.
Eager to plant some roots and take a break from life on the road, Stefanie settled in Virginia Beach and began working at the US headquarters of STIHL, a German manufacturing company. While employed in their quality assurance department, she continued to leverage her language skills and sharpen her organizational skills.
When a public seminar company learned about her speaking background, work experience, and language skills, Stefanie was recruited to conduct training courses in North America, Europe, and Australia. For the better part of eight years, she traveled extensively to deliver seminars on topics including interpersonal communication, customer service, productivity, conflict management, and people management.
That work eventually led to additional projects for her own clients and several boutique training firms. Stefanie found that in addition to the courses she taught in a public format, she was skilled at conducting onsite training, keynotes, conference breakouts, and long-term leadership development programs.
Stefanie joined Business Training Works in 2009.
Education and Credentials
Stefanie graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Allegheny College with a BA in French and a minor in communication arts. She is a member of the National Speakers Association and the Association for Talent Development.
An Interview with Stefanie
What three or four words describe your facilitation style?
Relatable, dynamic, flexible, and fun.
How do you prepare for a client engagement?
I have a conversation with the client to find out what issues are driving the training, what the messaging is, and what specific goals they are trying to achieve. I also inquire about the participants’ roles and any past training they have had. I then look at the time I’m going to have for delivery; I set priorities and design the day. I choose content and activities based on the objectives, the number of people, and the training space.
You’re known to put a lot of work into preparation. Is all that work still necessary after almost 20 years of doing this?
My preparation is deliberate so that my presentation can be flexible and spontaneous. The more familiar I am with the content, the timing, and the client, the more quickly I can adapt to the dynamics and needs of the group in the moment.
What do you like best about facilitating training?
I encourage and thrive on audience participation and love drawing people out through discussions and activities that help them find their own answers. It’s gratifying to watch the “lightbulbs” come on when something really sinks in and they make the connection between what we’re discussing and what they’re dealing with back on the job.
When you were leading public seminars, what were some of the more unusual or interesting places you worked?
I ran a workshop in the National Motorcycle Museum in Birmingham, England, gave a keynote for 300 at the Melbourne (Australia) Convention and Exhibition Centre, and even conducted a course in what was basically a bus station. You name the venue; I’ve probably been there at some point.
How has your work in tourism helped you in the learning and development arena?
When I direct tours, I have up to 50 guests with me for several weeks at a time. I have to find new and creative ways to engage the same audience day in and day out. When sharing information on the places visited, I combine statistics, stories, humor, music and more. It’s what inspired my love of teaching and storytelling.
This unique leadership role taught me a lot about group dynamics, managing others, and the importance of clear and effective communication. Whether explaining things to my tourists, making arrangements with a supplier, or coordinating with the driver, the only way to stay on target and on schedule is through good communication. I also learned to deal with all types of different, and sometimes difficult, people.
Time management is vital on tours. In order to avoid rush hours in cities, grab helicopter reservations in high season, or make it to the Grand Canyon before sunset, you have to be realistic in your timing and allow for the unexpected. I learned a ton about planning and scheduling, which of course are the backbone of any productivity training program.
How has your international experience influenced your work?
Growing up overseas and working abroad early in my career gave me different perspectives on how to approach people and situations. I learned that there are usually a variety of ways to look at one and the same thing and that it’s important to keep an open mind. I feel it has helped me to think outside the box.
Conducting training internationally brought awareness of different work styles and work cultures. If I got nervous about a first session in a country like Scotland or New Zealand, Canada or Wales, I quickly realized that people are just people wherever you go. Although the approaches (and accents!) often differ, the challenges they face in the workplace are somewhat universal.
What do you do for fun?
I love to spend time with family and friends, travel, watch movies, practice hot yoga, and head down to the beach for a walk, a swim, or to watch our dog Jake play in the surf.