Speaking / Workshops


Over the years Elisa has had the privilege to moderate panels, facilitate workshops and speak at a number of events on such diverse topics as storytelling, social entrepreneurship, corporate social responsibility and media training.

To book Elisa for a speaking engagement, workshop or to moderate your next panel event click here

Speaking Opportunities

Social Entrepreneurship: Lessons Learned

Elisa shares what she’s learned from covering the field of social enterprise for over a decade, having interviewed close to a thousand social entrepreneurs, whether for SEE Change Magazine, her recent book, or as a regular contributor to the National Post.

Some topics include:

  • How we define social entrepreneurship (and how we don’t)
  • Success stories from across the globe
  • Common challenges faced by many social entrepreneurs
  • To scale or not to scale
  • What social entrepreneurs have learned from failures of traditional organizations in the developing world
  • The importance in measuring social impact
  • The value in collaborations and partnerships
  • The power of storytelling
  • How to use crisis to inspire social innovation and impact
  • The dangers in over-emphasizing the social mission to the detriment of the business
  • When premium pricing and products are essential
  • Why local sourcing and focus is imperative
  • Resources that could help every prospective or current social entrepreneur

The Power of Corporate Social Responsibility

Elisa shares what she’s learned from working with/writing about companies that have successfully adopted community engagement strategies and/or have tapped into their own social cause and story

  • How to find your “cause” story
  • How to leverage your story into successful corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives
  • Lessons learned from successful programs and campaigns
  • Steps to finding partnerships that are aligned and valuable
  • How to get your story out to the media and the public for greatest impact

Canada’s History of Social Change

This speech leverages the Canadian History of Social Change, a multimedia project that Elisa and SEE Change Magazine produced in partnership with the Government of Canada, documenting Canada’s social movements throughout history and their key players.

The presentation covers:

  • An overarching view of Canada’s unique history of social movements and changemakers
  • Why understanding our history, our past, is integral to understanding ourselves as Canadians today and in the future
  • Why it’s vital that students (and future leaders) learn about Canada’s history of social change
  • Unique challenges and success stories of Canadians in their battle for equality and human rights
  • The challenges/struggles that continue today for rights and freedoms
  • A look at some of Canada’s more renowned and lesser known changemakers
  • Key takeaways and lessons learned from Canada’s history of social change and their players


Training Workshops

Storytelling for Impact

During the half or full-day workshop, organizations and individuals learn about the importance of storytelling and how to leverage their story to effectively attract clients, the media and stakeholders.

Through the use of lessons, tips and interactive exercises, the workshops can help you:

  • Understand what makes a good story
  • Find your own story and how to articulate it in a way that’s aligned with your vision
  • Ensure your team is telling the same story
  • Know your unique selling proposition and the importance of authenticity
  • Write powerful headlines, taglines, mission statements etc.
  • Understand the hook, the story arc, the use of narrative
  • Discover what makes a story powerful and why data and facts are not enough
  • Maintain your focus on engagement, relevance and emotional connection
  • Learn how to leverage your “storytelling champions”
  • Gain practical tips you can use every day

Storytelling for Social Change

A half or full-day workshop leveraging the original Storytelling 101 Workshop but with a focus on social entrepreneurs and other changemakers looking to increase their social impact. Participants learn about how to effectively use their story to make a difference in their communities –  and to their bottom line.

Learn how to:

  • Articulate your vision in a compelling way
  • Ensure your team is telling the same story
  • Narrow your focus on one compelling mission
  • Balance the story with the bottom line, without losing track of either
  • Differentiate yourself from competitors in the traditional and non-traditional marketplace
  • Attract the ideal customers through narrative (and consistent action)
  • Find storytelling partners and collaborators for mutual benefit
  • Maintain your authenticity through the stories you tell
  • Create headlines that attract attention for the right reasons
  • Use personal narratives to benefit your cause as part of a long-term strategy
  • Produce multimedia that attracts, engages and inspires action (not just clicks)

Media Training

Learn how to:

  • Find your unique story
  • Tell your story to the media effectively and with impact
  • Write a compelling press release and story pitch
  • Write powerful headlines and sentences that grab attention
  • Make the most of social media to gain media attention
  • Spend your efforts on reaching the right editors (not the wrong ones)
  • Prepare for print and video interviews to ensure you communicate your story powerfully
  • Conduct an effective media interview

Canadian History of Social Change Storytelling Workshops

This student workshop leverages the Canadian History of Social Change, a multimedia project that Elisa and SEE Change Magazine produced in partnership with the Government of Canada, documenting Canada’s social movements and their key players. Elisa recently partnered with the Toronto District School Board to bring these workshops into classrooms (grades 5 and up), though schools in any district across Canada can participate.

Each workshop will:

  • Feature a renowned Canadian figure of a social movement who will share their personal story
  • Provide a lesson in storytelling using the History of Social Change e-book, digital stories, videos and other material
  • Facilitate an interactive storytelling activity (e.g. produce a digital story, podcast, press release, article, news item etc.)
  • Hone students’ verbal and written communications skills
  • Develop students’ capacity for advocacy
  • Encourage a deeper understanding of social issues in Canadian history and their impact on present day
  • Focus on any of the following social movements: Indigenous movement, Labour movement, Human Rights/The Charter of Rights, Women’s Rights, Black Canadian history, Immigration, Marriage Equality, Environmental movement, Healthcare, Social Innovation, Disability Rights and Racial equality

Elisa Birnbaum

Author, Journalist, Speaker

Elisa has an extensive portfolio as a senior journalist and writer. She’s also a recognized producer, consultant and storyteller of social entrepreneurship and social change.   Learn More

Speaking Experience

Watch a clip of Elisa speaking at the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto about the impact that social entrepreneurs have had on their communities, using examples from her recent book. See full video here

Elisa spoke to Memorial University’s MBA-SEE cohort regarding what makes an authentic social enterprise, how it solves many societal issues, as well as how it maintains the balance between profit and purpose. Her expertise has been acquired through interviewing and researching many social enterprises across industries, causes, times, and geographies. Her knowledge allowed the students to avail of practical information that they could couple with their classroom theory – making them excited about their futures. I would recommend Elisa for any engagement that would allow her to share her engaging and varied knowledge of social entrepreneurship.

Robyn Drodge

Educational Support Coordinator, Memorial University

Delivering a presentation on Social Entrepreneurship in the Global Context at the Global Young Leaders Conference at Harvard University

Moderating a panel event on food security organized by SEE Change Magazine at CSI Toronto

Sharing her views on digital storytelling as part of a panel event at the Igniting Innovation Summit at Harvard University.

Facilitating a storytelling workshop with the marketing department of Hershey Canada

Hosting a panel discussion on media and innovation with Naomi Zener of VICE Canada and Sarah Fulford of Toronto Life Magazine as part of a UJA Genesis speaker series