RADA Business, the commercial arm of the world-renowned drama school RADA, is helping business professionals to use their body, breathe and voice to present brilliantly over video conferencing platforms.
Charlie Walker-Wise, tutor and Client Director at RADA Business, provides insight.
To conform with social distancing guidelines in response to Covid-19, many companies made quick adjustments to their working practices. One of the biggest changes facing UK businesses is a 100% shift to remote working for some businesses – and the many challenges this brings.
For those used to working from home this is an easy transition, while others will find it difficult to maintain motivation and communicate effectively. This new challenge means that business professionals are increasingly relying on video conferencing software to communicate effectively as a team, or to liaise with clients.
Research revealed in RADA Business’ latest report, Thinking on Your Feet, suggests that more than 1 in 4 senior managers find it hardest to act naturally during video calls and 19% of those working at C-level cannot relax during conference calls.
The ability to communicate clearly and connect with others through digital means is currently more crucial than ever, as workers are losing a key component of communication – the ability to accurately read the fundamental tools of human communication; the body, the breath and the voice.
Fortunately, there are skills and techniques that business professionals can use to master the art of presenting through virtual conferencing platforms. Try these tips and techniques:
Stretch to release tension
Take a moment to prepare yourself before the conference call begins, so you can participate by feeling calm and relaxed. Stand up. Loosen up your body to release some physical tension by stretching. A simple way to do this is to stretch your arms above your head, reach for the sky, and then bring them back down to your sides, like you’re drawing an arc with each hand. Next, roll your shoulders back and then forwards a few times each. Gently tilt your head from side to side, then forward and back – and finally, give your limbs a good shake out.
Try a vocal warm-up
Old-school tongue twisters are a great way to warm up your voice, lips and tongue before jumping on a conference call. Humming will help prepare your voice to travel more effectively when you speak, and some wide-mouthed yawning will help to wake up your mouth and jaw muscles ahead of lots of talking. Playing with pitch is another great technique for keeping an audience engaged.
Check your stance
Posture plays a big role in how we come across to others. If sitting at a desk or table, be sure to sit upright on your sit bones, with uncrossed legs. Plant your feet firmly on the floor. Lengthen your spine and neck towards the ceiling and sit tall. Sitting in this way will help you to feel more grounded, but also enables you to show openness and a readiness to engage with others.
Take a moment to focus on your breath before speaking; breathe out and then in, slowly and deeply. Taking a breath in this way will help to calm any pre-call nerves and steady your voice. Allowing your belly to move freely with your breath will help to give your voice more power and a richer sound. Remember to build pauses into your speech when you need something to land with people – it allows a moment for listeners to take in what you’re saying while you prepare your next thought.
It’s all about connection!
Video conferencing is currently a crucial tool for maintaining strong relationships with your team and clients. It’s much easier to switch off both physically and emotionally from others when you’re not in the same office space. Make the most of the opportunities to connect: when a colleague or client calls you, even if you haven’t got the meeting in your outlook calendar, be open to this unexpected communication which can be a great way to be present and build relationships. When you’re on a call, avoid fidgeting and focus your attention in one place. Look directly into the webcam and not at your own appearance when you’re speaking; hide your self-view, as several platforms allow, can help. This will take your attention away from yourself and back to your audience so you can land your message directly and personally, in the same way that you would if you were in a room together.
To learn more about RADA Business, including virtual training options during this time, please visit radabusiness.com.