RADA offers new Shakespeare team building activity with Elsewhere
RADA is working with Elsewhere to provide a new team building activity. Elsewhere are an uncorporate off-site organisation offering a range of imaginative and unique team building activities.
The RADA workshop, Shakespeare will Break You, is a three hour session that splits the group into teams using and excerpts from Midsummer Night’s Dream, Henry V and The Tempest to end with a competitive live performance.
Sitting within our other team building activities, this workshop will be led by RADA tutors and aims to develop communication and confidence skills. Find out more about Shakespeare will Break You.
Don't hold your breath - it's bad for business!
RADA in Business Tutor Sheelagh McNamara
When we are stressed our natural response is to hold the breath. Our tendency is to lift the chest and reduce the length of our exhalation. This raises our heart rate and can make us appear lacking in confidence, unapproachable and sometimes aggressive. We either play small and take up less space - or we do the opposite, puffing the chest and chin out. Neither is optimal!
Have you ever noticed that you hold your breath in any of these situations.
- When having a difficult conversation?
- When speaking to your boss?
- When the phone rings?
- When you’re about to give a presentation?
- When you know you are about to ask a question in a meeting?
- When your turn to speak is looming ominously near?
- When challenged?
- When you feel judged?
- When you’re feeling emotional or angry?
If you’ve answered ‘Yes’ to any of the above then your aim should be to bring your awareness to these situations and start to change the ‘doing’ so you can put yourself in a more resourceful state.
So how can you change your response?
- First, exhale. Notice that when you’ve exhaled there is a moment, a beat, before your lungs naturally want to expand. Observe that moment. Don’t just ‘grab’ the next breath!
- Let the stomach soften so the breath can drop down.
- Then notice that your chest is no longer puffed out. Your chin isn’t jutting forward or tilted up and your eyes and belly are softer.
- Be aware that your heart rate has slowed down and that you feel calmer. This transmits to the other person and helps open up dialogue.
On a practical note:
- Avoid tight clothing and belts that dig into the waist or belly.
- Avoid tight collars and ties. You should be able to fit 2 fingers in between the collar and clavicle.
- Avoid high heels as they will tighten the abdominals and glutes and restrict diaphragmatic breathing. If you need to wear heels alternate them with flatter shoes so your abs, glutes and thighs don’t become too tense.
- Avoid overly tight underwear as this will also restrict your breathing.
- Go for a walk on uneven ground - parks/grass/trail. This will help you to engage your core muscles and help you breathe more deeply.
- Listen! Avoid the tendency to jump in. Allow others to complete their sentences and remember to breathe while they’re speaking.
- Continue breathing when the other person is arguing or being very vocal.
Sheelagh offers one-to-one coaching which can address your general issues of communication or focus around a particular aspect of personal presence or an upcoming communication challenge. To find out more about our coaching visit our One-to-One Coaching page.
How to overcome Stage Fright
“Stage Fright” is a major issue for many people in business and, taking Michael Bay’s recent bout of stage fright into account, it can happen to even the most experienced public speaker.
Breathlessness, sweating and increased heart rate are all symptoms of stage fright – any of them sound familiar? Many people don’t realise the importance of communicating effectively and live their lives assuming that the image they think they project is the one received by the people they are addressing. This is often far from the case.
Public speaking is part of the corporate environment – it can’t be avoided. If you hate it you obviously won’t be nominating yourself to address the shareholders at the AGM but for many people it’s a necessary business tool. Delivering a presentation or chairing a meeting are examples of the public speaking most of us have to do at work week in week out. Those who avoid public speaking risk lowering their profile and becoming less visible in the workplace. The impact on career prospects hardly needs to be stated. By gaining confidence and realising that we all have the ability to be compelling, powerful communicators, anyone can make speaking in the corporate world work for them. Here are a few simple tips on how to get started:
It’s as simple as that. As soon as you feel yourself beginning to panic, slow down and breathe. The panic we feel often results in short breaths that are held in our upper chest. By concentrating on breathing lower down into our abdomen we can relieve tension, regulate our heart rate and focus on what is important. Another common factor affecting breathing is that we often feel the need to be talking constantly. We don’t. A pause can be very powerful – it allows the audience to absorb what you are saying and you the time to breathe and gather your thoughts for your next point.
Practise out loud.
You wouldn’t expect a play where the actors have had no rehearsal to be much good, so why, if a pitch or presentation is important to your business, should it be any different in the corporate world? Many people will practice but do it in their head while they’re at their desk, in the shower or on the tube. Speaking is a physical act and has an effect on the body. Getting a physical sense of the speech is vital and that can only be done by speaking out loud, if possible in situ.
One quick technique that can really help is placing a cork between your front teeth (taking care not to put it into your mouth) and speaking your speech out loud. You’ll sound very strange but after you’ve finished a few sentences, take the cork out and say it again normally. You’ll find more space in your mouth and more energy in your words.
Rehearsing out loud is perhaps the most underrated tool for preparing presentations. It doesn’t matter if your audience is three or three hundred the experience of speaking your material out loud means that you have felt (not thought) what it’s like to vocalise these ideas, opinions or figures.
Remember the audience is your friend.
When you feel your throat tightening, voice squeaking and palms sweating, remember that these physiological responses are preparing us for a physical threat that doesn’t exist in the corporate world. Contrary to what it might feel like the audience is not about to eat you. You are the expert of your own material and they are there to listen and learn from you. They want you to succeed so make eye contact, engage with your audience and you will immediately be more interesting and compelling.
We can’t guarantee that these tips are going to turn you in to an orator like Martin Luther King but they will help develop self-awareness and confidence. The only thing that will really help your public speaking improve, however, is doing more of it. In the meantime, by putting into practise these tips, you can make subtle shifts in your communication style and overcome the worst of stage fright.
We have a number of ways to help you or your team overcome stage fright in business, either through our Stage Fright course, some one-to-one coaching, or as part of an in-house tailored programme for your organisation or team.
To find out more call Emma Oakley on +44 (0) 207 908 4821.
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