The Me first team strive to improve the quality of training that it delivers, to develop as individuals and to further solidify the bond within our team. Having had recently been awarded money from Health Education England, to be used for professional development, the Me first team headed to St. Andrew’s at Holborn (a 13th century church and historic courthouse) where the team attended a bespoke presentation skills and personal impact course – by tutor, Richard Ryder, from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts.
This one day course helps delegates to become more successful and effective communicators. Personal impact increases self-confidence and improves the quality of communications; this course focuses on developing the ‘’tools’’ of communication – body, breath and voice.
By the end of the day, the team hoped to gain:
- A greater self-awareness of how we come across to others.
- A greater command and understanding of our body, breath and voice.
- Improved presentation skills and confidence.
- A practical ‘toolkit’ of techniques that we will be able to take back into the workplace and our personal lives.
“Learning to breathe: who knew a game of catch could be so difficult?”
The day started with learning about our breath control; becoming ‘unconsciously conscious’ of our breathing. Breath control is an essential element of verbal communication and is influenced by posture; poor posture can lead to poor breath control, this leads to poor projection. Richard introduced a ‘simple’ technique to control our breathing – a game of catch….with a twist!
Upon throwing the ball of socks we were to pass a message, simply stating our name and the name of the person we’d pass the message to – sounds simple enough right? To start the team was breathless and feeling tight, getting names wrong but laughing wholesomely throughout. Richard then demonstrated methods to control our breathing, looking at how posture can affect how much control we have over our breathing.
‘’Speaking in front of colleagues is hard, speaking to strangers is even harder’’
Prior to the day we had all been asked to prepare a 2-3minute presentation on a work related subject, this would be delivered to the group and our training would be personalised accordingly. Some decided to use notes, others decided to memorise their speech – no matter what way we decided to deliver our presentations we all had things in common:
- We all felt clunky, and uncomfortable
- We couldn’t stand still
- We hadn’t engaged the group as confidently as planned
- Our breathing wasn’t controlled.
As we went round the group, each judging the previous person’s presentation, it became clear that we needed to work on our body language, volume and breathing.
“Are you a Cat or a Dog?”
Richard, gave us a basic introduction to ‘Lessons learned from the world of Cats and Dogs’ (Michael Grinder) and the ‘Five Archetypes of Body Language’ (Virginia Satir) – both theories look at how our body language can affect the way we communicate, in both our perception of others and how others perceive us.
- Cats tend to have a ‘credible’ persona – authoritative demeanour, flat-toned voice tone that curls down at the end, body language calm and still – and tend to command immediate attention.
- Dogs have a more ‘approachable’ style – a friendlier demeanour, they smile and nod more, use open palms when speaking and their voice pattern is lifting and curls up at the end.
According to Michael Grinder’s research, around 70% of the world are ‘dogs’ and 30% are ‘cats’. We all have access to both these sets of qualities but knowing how and when to use them is key; we spent some time practicing both styles and found that a good mixture of both would equate to a better communication style and have more of an impact on the room.
“It is not about what we’re going to be. It is about what we are – in the moment”
Having had learned all about breathing, posture, body language, cats and dogs, and volume control, it was time for us to perform our presentations once more. We would apply our new found skills and confidence to our presentation, Rich offered 1:1 coaching – insisting we start over if we missed something.
The Me first team thoroughly enjoyed the day and we have all come away feeling more confident in our communication ability. What we all took away from the day it is this:
“Pause, breath, stand tall and deliver your message”
For more information about RADA in business visit www.radainbusiness.com
Written by James William Reid | Me first project developer