Managers at FGM, a Herndon, Va., company with 1998 revenues of $15 million, found a way to improve employees'presentation skills while fostering workplace camaraderie. This 1997 Inc. 500 company, which develops computer softwareand integrates computer systems, holds weekly brown-bag lunch seminars where employees hone their speaking skills infront of volunteer audiences of 10 to 30 of their colleagues. The speakers, who are also volunteers, receive T-shirts and enterFGM's annual speakers' contest.

"It's great, especially for young engineers who don't have experience getting up in front of customers. That was definitely inthe back of my mind," says CEO Scott Gessay. On occasion, customers are also invited to the Thursday seminars -- one clientsat in on a session about Java technology, for example.

What started a number of years ago as a purely technical exchange has expanded into a platform for a variety of business andpersonal interests. Seminar topics range from advances in 3-D animation to Guitar 101. "People in different parts of thecompany get to share their knowledge," says Gessay, who, along with 14 others, attended the guitar seminar led by ablues-playing staffer.