Five key considerations when planning your MBA Communication Skills offer...

More and more MBA providers are recognising the need to incorporate high quality personal development sessions into their MBA offering. A series of relevant, expert sessions helps to differentiate the MBA course and supports students in developing the skills required to achieve positive change in their organisations.

Whilst working with many universities across the UK, it has become clear that there are a common set of challenges and considerations that nearly all MBA providers encounter as they strive to successfully incorporate communication skills training into their course offering. 

The most successful MBA providers are carefully considering these challenges and crafting their courses and communication skills provision to overcome them. 

For your benefit, I have shared below the 5 key considerations when planning your MBA Communication Skills training. 


1. Choose a format for success

MBA providers often require more flexibility in the format of their communication skills training than other organisations.

MBA Programme Directors are under a lot of pressure to ensure that the MBA calendar is well-coordinated, and that staff, resources and budget are all available to provide the most valuable learning experience. It can often feel like a game of Tetris, trying to get all of the different items to fit.

With this in mind, any sessions focused on personal development or communication skills need to be flexible. They need to fit around student availability and the teaching of other modules.

The key learning for MBA Programme Directors:

Do not be afraid to challenge your MBA communication skills partner to craft a learning experience that fits the calendar of your MBA. It may be that you can dedicate several full day(s) to developing communication skills, or that you have just a few hours during the year. If you are clear on what you want your candidates to know and be able to do after the MBA communication skills training, then your training partner should be able to develop a solution that fits your programme.

2. Integrate other modules into the MBA communication skills training

No session within the MBA Programme should stand alone. To ensure that students understand its relevance and how to apply their new-found communication skills to their course and careers, training should always feature examples and case studies directly linked to other modules within the MBA course.

Similarly, the core MBA modules that are delivered should feature the opportunity for students to present both in groups and individually. (More on this below, in ‘Making it stick’.)

The key learning for MBA Programme Directors:

Ask that your MBA communication skills trainer develops tailored course content that links to relevant themes, tasks and case studies from your core MBA modules. They should not just be delivering an ‘off-the-shelf’ solution. You will have to provide access to the module content, but the outcome will be a more joined-up, relevant and useful learning experience for your students. You will likely also see increasingly positive outcomes in presentation assessments throughout the MBA course.

Ask that your MBA communication skills trainer develops tailored course content that links to relevant themes, tasks and case studies from your core MBA modules.

3. Tailor the provision to every student’s experience

MBA candidates enter your programme with a range of prior career experience. This is particularly evident when comparing the cohorts for full-time and part-time MBAs.

Similarly, the candidates will arrive with a range of experience and skills when it comes to communicating and presenting to groups. It is therefore unlikely that they will all require the same level or focus from their MBA communication skills training.

The key learning for MBA Programme Directors:

As Programme Director, you, or your training partner should be assessing the communication skills of students, prior to designing a training solution. This does not have to be an in-depth study, but could be as simple as a short survey to understand the students’ prior experience, feelings and goals for communication skills. 

Armed with this knowledge, your MBA communication skills trainer should be able to craft suitable content to effectively address the needs of your entire MBA cohort. 

The result will be communication skills training that is useful for everyone.

4. Provide for both in-person and remote learners

Communication skills training is most effective when it is delivered in-person. This allows both the trainer and student to fully assess and understand the learning and performance.

However, many MBA courses have students that can only join sessions online, due to geography, other commitments or health. Whilst this is not ideal, all parts of the MBA programme should have flexibility to incorporate remote learners, and communications skills training is no different.

The key learning for MBA Programme Directors:

Ideally, all students should be encouraged to attend the MBA communication skills training in-person, with only a set list of reasons for remote attendance permitted. For those that do attend remotely, ensure that your communications skills training takes place within a room that contains cameras and microphones that allow remote participants to watch and actively engage with the session.

Challenge your training partner to develop content that keeps remote learners actively engaged and as much a part of the training as the in-person learners. Everyone should have achieved the same learning objectives by the end of the session.

For remote group work, ensure that your communications skills training partner has clear measures and tasks designed to ensure that remote learners participate and don’t slip off for a cheeky coffee!

Challenge your training partner to develop content that keeps remote learners actively engaged and as much a part of the training as the in-person learners.

5. Ensure that it sticks

You want your MBA Programme budget to be used as effectively as possible. Good learning is learning that sticks and is used by students to improve their performance in all areas of the course and their careers.

Providing students with opportunities to use and practice their new found skills throughout the course will enhance their learning and their effectiveness going forward. 

The key learning for MBA Programme Directors:

Ask your individual module leaders to incorporate presentation assignments into their modules. Provide each module leader with a standardised presentation assessment sheet to review and grade the performance of each student. This sheet should be based around the skills that the student has discovered as part of the MBA communications skills training. Your training partner should be able to provide a template sheet for you.

It may also be useful to ask students to take responsibility for their own development, and submit a public speaking action plan. This document can be used to focus their efforts, and could be shared amongst peers so that the group helps to coach and feedback to each other.

There are more MBA communications skills insights to come...

As I continue to teach and train at universities across the UK, I will update this article with new learnings and insight that may be beneficial to MBA programme leaders.

If you have any questions, or would like to discuss how best to develop an MBA communication skills solution for your programme, then please do contact me using the form below. I am always happy to meet (virtually or in-person) and help however I can.

Best wishes,


Rich Watts

Founder and All-Round Public Speaking Geek

Rich Public Speaking

How do we develop communications skills training for MBA courses?

  • An initial planning session with the programme leaders to agree overall learning objectives and explore the parameters for the training
  • A period of research with the students, understanding their current experience and communications skills goals 
  • The proposal and development of a suitable training solution. This could range from bitesize lectures to day-long interactive training sessions.
  • We then support and review the students' performance throughout the rest of the course, either by providing frameworks to assess their development or through ongoing coaching.
  • Finally, we work with you to review and refine the course content each year. What worked well? What can we do better? It is all considered to help provide the most useful training for your MBA. cohort.

To get started just contact us.

Why choose MBA communications skills training with Rich Public Speaking?


Contact us today, to begin crafting your speaking solution.

Learn more about Rich Watts, MBA communications skills trainer

Rich Watts is a public speaking consultant and trainer, a past winner of the UK Business Speaker of the Year, a JCI UK Public Speaking Champion and most importantly, loves helping others to develop into outstanding public speakers.

This, his corporate communications background and a very high level of geekery when it comes to public speaking, mean that his ideal job is creating and delivering public speaking training. Fortunately for him, that's what he gets to do every day. Using examples and techniques from everyone including Aristotle to Churchill and Jamie Oliver, Rich crafts solutions to challenges faced by businesses, charities, start-ups and a select bunch of individuals too.


    Contact us today