RADA Business, the commercial arm of the world-renowned drama school RADA, is helping business professionals to adapt their workplace performance for an office environment.
Katie Lightfoot, tutor and Senior Client Manager at RADA Business, provides insight.
As lockdown restrictions begin to ease, many business professionals who have adapted to using digital platforms to communicate will now need to readjust their communication style again as they transition back to being in the office.
Although it may not appear challenging, as ‘in person’ communication has always been the norm, a year of communicating behind screens has influenced how we deliver our message as we face different components and surroundings while working remotely.
Research revealed in RADA Business’ report, Beating Workplace Performance Anxiety, showed that in person communication can be stressful. Nearly 1 in 4 of workers (24%) feel anxious when giving a presentation to colleagues or customers and the same number have feelings of worry when they pitch to a client.
The ability to communicate clearly and connect with others is a fundamental part of our everyday working life and is just as important in person as it is on screen. The key lies in tailoring the use of our body, breath and voice for different mediums, ensuring we have the ability to deliver our best performance, whatever our stage.
Fortunately, there are skills and techniques that business professionals can use to master the art of communication as they return to the office. Try these tips and techniques:
- Release any physical tension
It’s become normal to communicate with others while being sat down, but as offices reopen, you now have the chance to stand up and use your body to deliver your message. Take a moment to prepare yourself before you are about to present or speak to someone, so you feel calm and released. Shake your body and loosen up your muscles by stretching. A simple way to do this is to stretch your arms high above your head, and then bring them back down to your sides. Next, roll your shoulders forwards and then back, 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 to release and tension.
- Maintain eye contact
It can be challenging to maintain eye contact when you’re speaking to someone on a video conferencing call, so as you transition back to the office, remember the importance of making a connection with the audience through your eyes. Maintaining eye contact helps your message to land with impact as it is an effective way to build trust and engage others. It enables you to develop stronger working relationships with your colleagues and shows that you’re both engaged with what they’re saying and also want them to connect with what you’re saying too.
- Take up your space
After a year of being sat at a desk and communicating behind a screen, now is the time to take advantage of the space around you so that you can communicate with confidence. Grounding yourself gives you a solid base to operate from, so start by placing your feet firmly on the floor, hip-width apart, with your arms by your side. Take a moment to really feel the floor underneath your feet and make sure to stand up tall whilst releasing any of the tension from your body. By taking up your space and aligning the body, you have greater stability to deliver your message to the room with authority.
Take a moment to centre yourself and focus on the breath before speaking; breathe out and then in, slowly and deeply. Let the next breath happen naturally, holding for three, then breathing out for three. This will help to calm any nerves and steady your voice before you start to present or communicate. Remember to build pauses into your speech when you need something to land with people – it allows a moment for listeners to digest what you’re saying while you prepare your next thought.
Sometimes it’s the smallest changes that make the biggest difference to how you communicate in person to others. Articulating each word when you speak helps your message to travel and land more effectively. Try speaking the months of the year aloud to yourself before focusing on the consonants, especially the final ones of each word. This will help to warm up the lips and tongue so you can be ready to speak