RADA Business: Personal Impact for Professional ServicesThursday, 28th November 2019
Guest blog by Leandra Ashton, Tutor at RADA Business
When pro-manchester members arrived for their RADA Business masterclass earlier this month, they didn’t expect to end the session with a group singalong – but that’s exactly what happened.
So how did RADA Business tutor Leandra Ashton help attendees find their voices? We caught up with Leandra to discover why it’s so important to work on the three fundamental tools of communication – the body, breath, and, yes, the voice – if you want to have a meaningful impact at work.
About RADA Business and Leandra
From their offices in Manchester and London, RADA Business build on the work of one of the world’s most respected drama schools – the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) – to deliver world-class training programmes and coaching for organisations and individuals.
Tutor Leandra trained at RADA herself, spending three years studying acting. Since graduating in 2004, she has worked as an actor, writer, director and workshop leader, using her skills to deliver transformative training experiences for clients.
“I love doing workshops,” Leandra says, “because you get to have the dialogue you’re often looking for as a theatre practitioner, right there in the room. You can have a real impact on people and how they see themselves.”
What does Personal Impact mean?
In the Personal Impact masterclass for pro-manchester, Leandra focused on the essentials, sharing practical insight designed to help people communicate effectively in a variety of workplace scenarios.
“Personal Impact is about self-awareness. It’s about trying out different ways of being, so that you can start to recognise your authentic self,” Leandra continues. “We’re not teaching people to be actors – we’re encouraging them to identify their own skills and style, so they can be the best version of themselves.”
“Generally, people join a Personal Impact course because they want to deal with a particular practical issue,” Leandra explains. “Perhaps they want to be more confident, to be able to influence people in a work situation better, or to seem less nervous. However, developing your own personal impact is about much more than that. Once you’re in the room, it can be a very transformative experience. What we do is to hold up a mirror so that people can see themselves clearly, identifying habits that they might be seeing for the first time.”
Over time, these habits start to have an effect an individual’s ability to communicate clearly, which can in turn have a real impact on their role in the workplace.
From presenting a pitch to explaining an idea to a colleague, to running a team briefing, in many work scenarios we’ll often think about what we plan to say, but not much about how we plan to say it. There are also situations where we can’t plan anything at all, and those can be even more nerve-wracking.
“First we look at posture,” Leandra explains. “We do this because the shape you make with your body is so important. I know as an actor that I can create a character just through the way I hold myself, but for many people they’re not conscious of the shape they make – they don’t think about how they’re standing, for example. So that’s one of the first things to consider. If you start to gather data on yourself, you’ll start to understand your own habits.
With this in mind, I often begin a session by getting everyone to stand in the optimum position: feet directly under hips, hands resting at your sides. If everyone stands like this, it immediately makes the room feel more open.”
Feel the earth
If Leandra could give just one tip to maximise your personal impact, it would be to practice this exercise:
“For most of us, our world is so head-based, we sometimes forget about that connection to the earth. Taking a moment to acknowledge it can be very powerful. Stand in the optimum position and feel the earth beneath your feet. You will feel the energy in your body, which immediately changes your posture – and that in itself makes you a better communicator. When you feel gravity, you have more gravitas.”
Try it next time you have a moment to prepare for a specific work situation. It could make all the difference.
Use your voice
“Singing is a great way of feeling the power of the voice. It also helps you to warm up, and it gives you permission to use your full range,” Leandra says. Understanding your voice’s range can help you use it more effectively in situations that don’t involve song, for example in work meetings or presentations.
Find out more about RADA Business’ Personal Impact course here: https://www.radabusiness.com/courses-individuals/personal-impact-/