Questions and Answers
As you were trained in the Arts, as a photographer and subsequently as a voice teacher and actor, how did you shift to working in the business world facilitating communication seminars for major companies?
Fairly easily. The seminars are theatre-based and there are clear parallels between the world of theatre and the world of business.
Can you give some examples of the parallels?
As an actor I have to be clear on the meaning of the text, so that it will come across to the audience, I have to use my voice with enough volume and colour to ensure the audience will listen and also behave in a way that supports my words, as well as having the self-confidence to face the audience and be able to improvise – to think and act quickly under pressure – if something unexpected happens.
You have worked in the USA and many counties throughout Europe as well as South Africa and Lebanon, does the culture of the country influence the way you work ?
Because I work with fundamental human communications: humour, laughter, fear, happiness, sadness, as well as personal stories, the responses are universal. They break down the culture barriers that can keep us apart. This usually happens very quickly.
You trained as a voice teacher with the Roy Hart Theatre, how does this vocal work fit in with the more restrained style required for a business presentation?
Let me explain by analogy. When we work out physically at the gymnasium, we often need to do extreme exercises to enable our bodies to become flexible and strong, as well as looking good, of course! This doesn’t mean we walk down the street flexing our muscles, but means that when we walk, or lift the shopping, we have the benefits of having done the active work. The same applies to the ‘vocal’ work out. In the Roy Hart theatre training which I received, we explored the extreme parts of the vocal spectrum. We exercised our voices, in pitch and volume, to extend the vocal possibilities for ourselves. I use some elements of this training in my corporate work. Business people do not need to be the Olympic Athletes of the Voice, but they benefit from knowing some of the disciplines. These voice exercises give us a vocal strength and flexibility that makes a presentation assured, engaging…. and sound good.
What kind of exercises do you do?
The exercises range from active, high energy group activities to calm dialogues and reflective listening, with a partner. Storytelling is also an important aspect of the work. The work is a mix of group work, partner work and solo work. Once an exercise has been completed, a discussion takes place as to how benefits of any given exercise can be applied, on an immediately practical level, to the workplace and/or daily life.
What if I hate speaking in public, can I have a course on my own?
Certainly. (see One-to-One section of this website).
However, finally one needs to rehearse in front of a live audience to prepare for the moment when one needs to present publicly. Who better to practice with than with one’s fellow participants who are going through the same process, and consequently are the ideal supportive audience, offering encouraging and constructive feedback.
Do you have different courses for different groups?
The courses can be tailor made to suit the individual needs of the group. The activities may vary but the fundamental principles of the communication are common to all. Scales and arpeggios need to be practiced by the most accomplished musician as well as the novice. The scales remain the same but the skill of how they are played varies considerably.
I am already a confident public speaker, would I benefit from your course?
I believe that communication is an on-going skill that should be constantly worked on as we evolve, develop and grow older. Actors who take their craft seriously continually hone their skills to prepare themselves for their next part. Also public speaking is only one element of the work. Interpersonal relationship building is an important aspect and often the confident public speaker has a challenge in relating to someone on a one-on-one basis and utilizing the vital skill of listening.
Is there any benefit in my team all coming on the same course. Is there an element of team-building in your work?
The very nature of the work is team-building. Often we get stuck in the perception we have of work colleague, or locked in a historical moment that took place between us, which acts against the cooperation of the work group. Once we go a little deeper, we discover that our perceptions need reviewing! The work allows us to see each other in a new light. Often after a dialogue with a colleague, we discover we have much more in common than we at first thought. The course sets the frame whereby these dialogues can take place.