CEO and author Margaret Heffernan, on the Board of Directors for RADA in Business, gives the keynote speech at the British Chambers of Commerce annual conference 2016, titled 'The Voice of Leadership'.
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We've cherry-picked some top tips from our Personal Impact course.
1. Open your window
The next time you go into a meeting, before you put your hand on the door handle to open the door, check you are entering with an “open window”. Don’t’ get caught in the “OK, here we go…” frame of mind; as you will be entering anticipating defeat or a battle. Before opening the door, stop. Breathe. Raise your eye line so that when you enter the room your head is up and able to see who is in the room and where they are. This will help you feel more confident as you enter and signal to the people that are already in the room that you are open and ready to engage.
2. If in doubt, breathe out
Make sure you are balanced and grounded. Make sure your knees are not locked, put your hands on your belly and breathe out. As you exhale make an “s” sound. As the air leaves you think about squeezing toothpaste out of a tube from your centre. Be careful not to add any tension to your throat or chest. Become aware of the muscles that engage to help expel the air. This will give you great strength and support in your voice.
Take your time when speaking and thinking. Listen to what our tutor Abi says about keeping a steady pace when under pressure.
This Summer we trialed a new series of evening courses a Foundation Suite designed to teach the basics in presentation skills. Members of the RADA in Business team, Charlie and Emma reflect on the experience of designing and attending the courses respectively.
From a Tutor
Launching a new open course usually involves about a year of discussions, briefings, trials and revisions before we feel comfortable putting it in front of the public. We then usually allow two years before we expect the course to sell itself and become fully embedded in our open course curriculum. Not so the Foundation Suite.
Earlier this year we decided we needed an additional course which offered people the flexibility of training in the evening. This led us towards offering some fundamentals of business communication that no one ever teaches you. Thus the Foundation Suite was born: four courses covering essential physical and vocal technique, how to make a good first impression and networking skills. Fundamental skills we all know we need but rarely put the time into acquiring.
Kevin Chapman, Director of RADA in Business
This month I had the pleasure of joining our latest company of RADA actors for a week as they set sail to perform shows on Cunard’s flagship; the Queen Mary 2.
Performing in the fully equipped Royal Court Theatre, over 1,000 guests enjoyed abridged versions of Pride and Prejudice (in “moderate” seas) and Romeo and Juliet (in “slight” seas). It was fascinating to watch the actors maintain their composure and sure footedness during the more stormy days in the North Atlantic. Watching Juliet apply performance techniques to stay steady on the balcony reminded me just how powerful these skills are when we teach to people in business to hold their space and confidence.
The cast stays on the ship for its full 4 week tour performing these shows plus running acting workshops and storytelling sessions for the 2,000 or so guests, all as part of Cunard’s overall entertainment offering. This trip took them from Southampton to New York, Quebec and back.
RADA In Business held its quarterly Taster Session on Wednesday 10 June, here at our RADA studios. The session invites people unfamiliar with our approach to learning to come and experience it in an informal and relaxed manner, under the guidance of one of our highly experienced RADA tutors.
Lasting 90 minutes, and followed by an informal networking session over wine and nibbles, 18 senior HR and Learning and Development professionals from multiple industries including media agencies, law firms, management consultancies, and engineering companies, experienced how to project themselves with more gravitas and polish, by optimising their body, breath and voice.