B. Listening

The Speaker's Guide to Success: with RADA Business

September 13, 2023 Broadsword Season 2 Episode 3
The Speaker's Guide to Success: with RADA Business
B. Listening
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B. Listening
The Speaker's Guide to Success: with RADA Business
Sep 13, 2023 Season 2 Episode 3

We speak to Joe Barlow, Jonathon Tester and Tariq Jordan from RADA Business. They talk to us about the techniques actors use to speak confidently and engage audiences that are integral to successfully lead a meeting, pitch to a client, or speak at an event.

Hope you enjoy this episode!

B.listening is a podcast series created by the event professionals at Broadsword to share our insight and experience with individuals across or interested in the events industry. Follow us for more advice for event profs.

Visit our website: https://www.wearebroadsword.com/
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/5305472/admin/feed/posts/
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Show Notes Transcript

We speak to Joe Barlow, Jonathon Tester and Tariq Jordan from RADA Business. They talk to us about the techniques actors use to speak confidently and engage audiences that are integral to successfully lead a meeting, pitch to a client, or speak at an event.

Hope you enjoy this episode!

B.listening is a podcast series created by the event professionals at Broadsword to share our insight and experience with individuals across or interested in the events industry. Follow us for more advice for event profs.

Visit our website: https://www.wearebroadsword.com/
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/5305472/admin/feed/posts/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/broadswordeventhouse/
TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@broadswordeventhouse

Christine: Hello and welcome to our podcast series created by us here at Broadsword called Be Listening. Today we are joined not by one, not by two, but three amazing guests, Jonathan Tester, Tarek Jordan and Joe Barlow from RADA Business. Welcome to the podcast.

Tarek: Hi everyone, thank you for having us.

Johnathan: Hello,

Joe: Thank you. Lovely to be here!

Christine: one by one, could you please introduce yourselves and your roles at RADA?

Jonathon: I'll kick off. I'm Jonathon Tester, Associate Director of Marketing at RADA Business.  I've been with the business for about two years now, joined during the pandemic so I've seen quite a bit of change since 2021, particularly warming back in our in person work - so an exciting time! 

Joe: Hi, everyone. I am Joe Barlow, I'm an Associate Director here at RADA Business, focusing mostly within our business development and client team. I've been with the organisation now for just over six years and part of my role is responsible is working directly with organisations and building the transformation programs that we deliver for them. 

Tarek: And, I am Tarek Jordan and I am a practitioner here at RADA Business as well as being a writer and an actor. I am a writer for theatre and TV. Currently I've got a an internationally touring production of The Jungle Book which has has been directed by the internationally celebrated dancer and choreographer Akram Khan which so that's currently doing its its world tour. And, as a practitioner for RADA business, I work on RADA businesses' leadership programs with multinational corporations.

Christine: Thank you so much for the introductions and we'll just jump right into it. What is the concept behind broader business and the benefits businesses could have from this?

Jonathon: So RADA, the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, is known around the globe for training in dramatic arts. An actor I think is a very powerful person. They have the ability to capture your attention, to make you feel, to move you, maybe even to plant a thought that will really stay with you for for a long time afterwards.

What RADA business does is leverage all of those skills for the business arena and we work with individuals and with businesses. Either in person or virtually here in the UK and around the world, and in various different capacities as well.  So we have open courses for individuals, we have one to one coaching, but also bespoke programs that we can design specifically for a business to really meet their individual needs.

And again, we work with a whole range of people. So those who are entering the workplace for the first time all the way to the very top with seasoned CEO's

Christine: Which program would you say is the most popular to book?

Jonathon: It's really interesting. Actually, I think when I first started with the business two years ago, there was huge demand for presenting and personal impact programs, particularly in a virtual environment. One of our clients in the tech world, their sales team was really struggling to connect with prospective buyers effectively, you know over zoom. It just wasn't as exciting as as it had been in person in the office. So we designed a program specifically for them so that all of their business development team could really you know create that excitement that spark virtually.

I think once restrictions and lockdowns lifted though, we've seen a real shift towards leadership work. And in the last six months alone actually for our program for individuals, we've seen a 63% increase in hours delivered at that in that leadership sphere.

Christine: Performers on stage aren't the only ones who do public speaking in a working environment. Many of us do it - it can be in a meeting, on a webinar ... or you might even find yourself on a podcast one day! What helps with speaking confidently, be it in a workplace during a meeting or contributing to a pitch?

Tarek: The  question of speaking confidently is it's a huge question and at rather business we we always say this there's no one-size-fits-all approach. But what we do is we help you find the most authentic version of yourself.  When it comes to confidence, one of the biggest elements that gets in the way of you exuding confidence is is your mindset and how you see yourselves and often we become a self fulfilling prophecy of the way we see ourselves.

We have to start thinking of our mind as a computer, and computers run off algorithms. A lot of those algorithms have served us very well.  And at the same time, there are many that did serve us, that don't serve us anymore. The only way to get rid of an algorithm is to overwrite it. So if you replace that in terms of human form, those algorithms are habits, and what we have to do is we have to break habits that are not serving us anymore. 

Starting with the mindset, how many of us have stepped in front of an audience and the first thing that creeps into our mind is how we come across. Are we good enough? Are the audience seeing through our level of 'underpreparedness'? Do we feel we have anything of value to offer? 

If we go in with all of these algorithms that's a heavyweight that we're carrying and what we need to do, as public speakers who are sending an important message out to an audience, is to step up with the algorithm of I want to be here right now because I've got something of value to offer these people.

There's an old African proverb that exists that says ' if there's no if there's no enemy within, then the enemy outside can do you no harm' and really that sums up the elephant in the room that we are talking about here, which is stage fright.

That can be completely destroying to anyone exuding confidence in a space, on a stage. Because ultimately, as Jonathon and Joe were saying earlier, the job of an actor is not too dissimilar to the job of you as a human being. Whenever you're in front of another human being; your job is to send a message across and make sure that  message is understood and acted upon. So, there's something about reframing how you perceive yourself, and also what is the value that you bring into the space with you. 

One way we look at this is breaking down what the audience are perceiving in the first place and one what to do that, especially for myself as a storyteller, is I like to look at the three stories that an audience are perceiving every time you are in front of them. These three stories are: 

Your visual story, so everything you are doing in terms of your non-verbal communication, whether it be  eye contact, movement, gesture, posture, appearance, facial expressions as well. There's a whole story that is giving over to an audience.

The next story, the second of the three, is the vocal story. And that's how you sound, how you use pace, pitch, how you project your voice into a space.

And then the third story is the verbal, and that your content. So that's your presentation itself and it's also the elements of story- are you taking your audience into a story and then out of it again? 

And what we really want is that we want all  them three stories to be telling  the same message, to be sending out the same signals. More often than not, they don't and that's where the problem lies. So, start to be aware of those three stories and what the audience are perceiving and it just helps you break down the skillset. Because this is a skillset after all, it's not something that is a god-given right that has been passed down from the universe to certain individuals and you either have it or you don't. It's a skillset, that with practice, those habits will become ingrained.

Christine: I think we have all had those types of moments when we're talking and we can see someone who isn't that engaged and sometimes the anxiety and the panic sets in. It can be even more discouraging for speakers in meetings and events when they see someone in their audience that isn't engaged. Are there any techniques such as voice projection or certain body language to be more engaging for audiences?

Answer: There are an abundance of techniques and ways of working and, at RADA Business, we break down the individual elements of body, breath and voice; message, mindset because each one needs its own weight. There's an analogy I like to use that kind of sums up the overarching theme and it's the analogy of an archer. 

So, more often than not we have speakers stepping in front of the audience, whether that be one person or a group of people, and they just do a data dump. They dump a lot of  data on the audience rather than landing thoughts. We need to get back to this idea of 'landing thoughts' and if you use this archer analogy - so first of all an archer can't shoot an arrow by swaying side to side, there's something about their connection to the ground, and we work with this a lot. We call it grounding.

 The second thing is an archer takes this arrow, this arrow is the equivalent to your thought, and these arrows are exquisitely made, they are valuable, they are expensive so an archer doesn't waste them. They don't shoot multiple arrows at the same time, they shoot one  individual arrow - they load that arrow into the bow and pull back the bow back as far as they can and that's the equivalent to taking a breath.  The more the archer pulls back the bow, first of all, the further the arrow will go which is the equivalent of long, sustained, complex sentence structures. But, also, the more you pull back the bow, the more you are taking breath; the louder you will be, the more you will project your voice further into the space. 

One thing that an archer doesn't do is that they never take their eye off of the target and that's something that we need to be aware of - eye contact is the bridge of our communication, it's the journey that our thought is travelling until finally thought lands. So, start to reframe: you're not just talking at an audience, you're landing thoughts. Rather than you thinking I am going in there to deliver a monologue, there is a dialogue that's taking place.  Yes, you are the one talking mainly, your audience is still communicating with you through silence. 

Another thing that really helps along the way is pacing because, when we are nervous, our instinct is to speed up because we go into this flight or fight response so if we speed up we can leave quicker. We need to work against that. When you slow down your speaking pace and take a pause when you get to a full stop then you find that everything else starts to relax.

Christine: I don't know if you guys knew this but, surprisingly, the fear of public speaking ranks in the number one spot of all fears. And get this - it's either higher than the fear of death! How can you reduce your nerves before speaking? Have you felt nervous speaking before? 

Tarek: Even as an actor, you feel nerves before stepping on stage and there's something about welcoming nerves because they are an indication that you care about the arena you are stepping into. If you don't feel nerves, there's an element of ' is this really something that you desire?'.  So nerves are not something that are necessarily a negative. 

And, When we look at nerves, there are two types that exist. So, we have stress and you can look at the two elements of stress. The first thing is 'you stress'. You stress is the stress that you get before you enter a competition so it's what athletes will feel, it's the stress that you will have when you are about to complete a test or an important exam. That type of stress, you stress, is useful because there is a chemical change, a chemical shift within your body that is setting you up for success. You have a heightened sense of awareness.

The type of stress that we want to avoid is distress. Now, distress is the one that essentially prepares us to either  fight or flee. Now, when we are feeling distressed, what happens to us? Well, our breathing becomes shallow so we don't take as much oxygen as our lung capacity can accept. We start to sweat, our blood pressure rises, our heart pounds, our heart beats faster. 

So, we need to try and reverse that and that starts with grounding and breathing. So grounding, our connection to the ground (and we do a lot of work on this at RADA Business) our connection to the earth. And, also, our breathing. Taking in fuller breaths because we know that, without oxygen, we can't exist so the way to calm ourselves down is to get more oxygen into our body as well as working on the mindset of 'okay, well why am I here?', 'what value am I bringing to the space right now?'. 

These are things, as well as working on vocal technique, your vocal dynamics and an awareness of your body language and how you can shape shift that depending on the situation:  all of this will eventually come together but it all starts with your connection to the earth and the air that you are taking in.

Christine: Some people freeze up if a question comes up that they haven't prepared for or don't really know the answer to it. Do you have any advice on how to deal with those unexpected questions?

Answer: Yeh, this is one that always comes up because it's impromptu speaking and impromptu speaking is one of the difficult areas to navigate around.  One of the issues with impromptu speaking, when you are asked a question, is that the majority of the time, you don't fully understand what the question is. And, that's something you need to be aware of and ask for clarity if that's the case.  Because, rather than simply asking 'could the question be repeated?' or you reframing the question in a sense of 'are you asking me this?' so you take ownership of the question, what happens is you have something what we call an amygdala hijack. So, the part of the brain that's responsible for logic and reasoning suddenly it's hijacked by thoughts of feeling that you're not good enough, that you don't understand the question. 

A lot of the time, people are not asking questions. They are really just saying statements that they think is a question.  So, it's important for you to be a bit of a detective and clearly define the question that is being asked of you. Now, in that time, you have to pause and breathe because, again, oxygen is the fuel that keeps every cell in your body alive and also feeds your brain so we need that.

Another element to questions that you're unprepared for  is try and welcome them and we often call this the 'yes, and' approach. So, even of you perceive a question as being a challenge, and more often than not we do. Someone asks us a question and our whole identity feels like we're being challenged on everything. Welcome the question. Just reframe it in your mind as something you will enjoy offering over the answer to because you know the answer, you will have something value to offer.

And the last thing I will say is that it's okay to not always have the answers to questions that may be asked of you. If you don't have the answer, then allow yourself to say that. One thing that questioners want is that they just want you to take ownership and accountability. And if you can show that, then that definitely keeps your status up in the room and you come across as authentic, confident and someone who holds themselves extremely well in a space.

Christine: From our side, we have seen an increase in our client's investment in their people from graduate level to senior leadership. Have you found this and what do you think the reason is behind this? 

Joe: So I think part of my role here particularly, is that I have the pleasure of working with quite an array of many different clients and many different industries, not only just in the UK but across the world as well. And I think part of what makes our approach so unique is that the work that we do is ultimately driven by the organisational needs that they are facing and really how do we build the capability for them to adapt to change. And, I think that where we've seen a lot of investment around is how do they prepare and build capability for their people to respond to change. 

Now, if you take the last three years alone, the sort of change that we've gone through not just in this country, but across the world as a result of the pandemic, but then also changes to working practices and a lot of the different economic challenges posed to businesses currently. The real investment there we've seen from organisations is to: how do we prepare and build capabilities in our people in order to face that change head on. And I think certainly the shifts that I've seen, amongst our clients over the last couple of years, has been a real move away from building those capabilities over a very short, sharp interventions say ' let's send you on a one day training course' and that kind of job is done. Very much moving to a world where capability development isn't built overnight and organisational change isn't solved overnight as well. So, I think there's been a real shift amongst our clients and what I've seen across the industry into recognising that change takes time and ultimately that requires investment into your people as well. From our perspective I think that's a really welcome aspect into changing perceptions of how to effectively embed change and build capabilities across  an organisation.

Christine: As we have come to the end of the episode, is there anything you'd like to share with our listeners?

Tarek: As a final thought as well, just something that I want to offer over is that we communicate through stories as a species and stories are a currency of humanity. We place values on the stories that we receive and if that's is a high value that we place on it, the listener is more likely to offer over something of equal value. This is why it's so important to work on yourselves as a storyteller because a great story can cease to exist if its not told in the right way and that's really the work that we do: we break up the storyteller and the story, we work on them individually, and then bring them back together again. 

Joe: I think from my perspective is that the work that we do, although we have kind of a set kind of style, it's very much a unique approach and as I was saying,  the sort of approach that we take is all about individuals and changing organisations as a result and so the sort of breadth that we do is ultimately depending on what an individual organisation needs and that's very much our approach to it. 

Christine: And, how can people find you? 

Jonathon: Find us online at radabusiness.com and we are on Linkedin as well also as RADA Business!

Christine: Thank you so much for coming onto the podcast today and sharing all your tips with us today.

Jonathon: Thank you very much for having us!

Christine: If you'd like to see similar content to this, you can follow us on our socials at 'broadsword event house' or visit our website at 'wearebroadsword.com' Thank you for listening and hope to see you on the next one, bye!