Online registration is now closed. If you are interested in attending, please contact Deanna Christiansen.

Why this is important

Every day, architects work to solve problems for clients in myriad ways.  We are highly trained, skilled and knowledgeable. Yet we often lack the training and skills to communicate effectively – especially when it comes to business development.

Fundamentally, in order to do the work, you first need to get the work. That means knowing how to find opportunities, build relationships, and communicate your firm’s value with passion. It means being able to think in the moment, find the right words, and connect meaningfully with prospects and clients so that they like you, trust you, and want to work with you. The latest MFBA workshop – Productive Conversations for Successful Business Development – will help you achieve these outcomes, focusing on the communications skills you need to successfully sell the value of your firm, win the job, and grow the client relationship.

The Mastering the Future Business of Architecture (MFBA) program was developed specifically to help AIA Minnesota members grow the skills that are core to the business of architecture. Clients and AIA Minnesota members agree that this training is needed within our architecture community. Our clients don’t always feel that we are effective communicators and, sometimes, they don’t understand or value what an architect’s creativity can do for them. The client research AIA Minnesota conducted a few years ago – the Architects in Commerce Research Initiative – bears this out. And in 2016, those findings were reinforced by AIA Minnesota’s strategic planning research:

  • The skills and knowledge AIA Minnesota members most want to strengthen within the profession are: 1) business skills, including business development; and 2) communications and presentation skills.
  • Members believe that enhancing the perceived value of architects involves growing client understanding of the design process, and increasing appreciation for the breadth and depth of what architects can do. Enhancing client understanding and appreciation requires strong communications skills.

Date, Time, Location

Tuesday, June 8; 8:30 am – 4:30 pm
Location: BWBR Architects
380 St. Peter Street, STE 600
Saint Paul, MN  55102


Members $225; or two from a firm for $425
NonMembers $300; or two from a firm for $575

Who should attend?

This highly interactive, full day MFBA workshop is intended for architects and other design professionals at every stage of experience.

Attend and you will gain more confidence, clarity, competence, and conviction for every conversation you lead. You will learn:

  • A strategy to land new clients and new opportunities;
  • An approach that brings your strategy to life;
  • Personal ownership around the challenge of business development;
  • A consistent feeling of readiness to lead productive conversations.

Continuing education

6.5 LU Hours

Learning objectives

  1. Build a collaborative partnership with your client
  2. Communicate design as a value proposition
  3. Master the challenging conversations
  4. Earn loyalty and maintain the client relationship


This workshop will be facilitated by Dean Hyers and Pete Machalek from SagePresence, a boutique learning and development company dedicated to elevating communication competencies for professional service organizations. Authors of The Shortlist, Dean and Pete will share their 15+ years of expertise coaching architects, construction professionals, and engineers to over $4 billion worth of new business. As filmmakers working with scriptwriters and actors, Dean and Pete cultivated a unique expertise around creating compelling stories, and drawing out performances that connect to audiences on a deeply emotional level. Now they offer that expertise to business professionals to help them present their value proposition to potential clients, pitch services to win competitive opportunities, or lead business development conversations with prospects and leads. 

What have local architectural firms found valuable?

Local architectural firms have hired SagePresence to help train their staff on successful firm messaging and marketing strategies:

 Michael Fischer, AIA, Minneapolis Office Leader, LHB
“I have always been impressed with Pete and Dean and their ability to translate the art of storytelling into business development skills.  We have hired them on occasion to coach our teams before important interviews, where confidently telling a story was the key to success.  These are important skills not just for our jobs, but for our lives.”

Peter Smith, FAIA, President & CEO, BWBR
“BWBR has used SagePresence many times over the years. They are skilled at helping you craft the message and tell your story. We have used them to help prepare for interviews and to help individuals hone their skills in storytelling. We continue to return to them again and again and would recommend them to anyone wrestling with finding their voice.”


Contact Deanna Christiansen, Continuing Education Director