I was in conversation with my eldest daughter the other day. Being the child of shall we say, parents who have never had real issues with shyness, we were waxing lyrical on what really brings out confidence in people. After a rather enlightening conversation, where she actually schooled me on some lost forgotten drama techniques it got me really thinking about how underrated drama is as part of formal education
From a young age in school I remember being in nearly all the school plays and musicals. Tin Pan Alley, Wizard of Oz, Aladdin, Sweeney Todd…you get the drift. Immersed in these plays really helped to sharpen my own confidence and ability to be able to stand up in front of audience and deliver in my style.
My wife was also involved in amateur dramatics and without name dropping actually shared the stage with a famous British Actor as well as being involved in other productions. Without a shadow of a doubt we both confirm this helped to shape our own confidence.
I believe that in addition to Maths, English and Sciences, Drama should be a compulsory subject at school. I know the disdaining look that my father gave me when I remotely suggested I wanted to do this as an option, but the more I think of it the more I think it should be compulsory, or at least if not in school part of the experience adults should have before entering the professions.
As professionals public speaking and presentations are at the heart of what we do. Whether it is interviewing, networking, conflict management, giving pitches or sharing bad news. Yet so many people are still either afraid of this or are not given the adequate tools in order to do this effectively. With trainers increasingly avoiding role plays and using actors to demonstrate leadership or presentation scenarios, surely this fear should be assuaged by an understanding of simple drama techniques. Walk with me.
Thinking on your feet. We all have to do it at some time. Imagine learning within a framework, simple story lines but you are aloud to take it wherever you want to. Being creative, having fun and learning what to do with those ‘awkward’ moments.
Individuals are paired off to discuss themes. To get comfortable on being ‘intimate’ in dialogue with another. Not only being able to speak your mind on a relevant issue but also learning the power of active listening.
Again similar to improvisation but getting people to problem solve on the spot with an audience. Getting creative and managing nerves by actually just being in the moment instead of worrying about what others think.
Imagine if you couldn’t verbalise it. All your communication was expression and body language. Let’s leave it there.
So here’s a challenge for you or your organisation. The next time you have to give a presentation to your peers or deliver a company report or year end accounts, do it in the style of a children’s story. Practice. Rehearse. Polish and deliver. Like a true performer.
One lesson I learnt as an amateur actor is that you always have take to your audience on a journey. You have to take them to a place they have never been before. Doesn’t matter if it is a production they have seen before but where you want to take them. But first you must make the journey yourself. Make the story relevant to you so it can be relevant to to others.
In my presentations workshops and coaching, whether to teenagers or adults, I always ask what’s your story? How are you going to bring it to life? What techniques will you use to impact me or motivate me to action? Drama as a subject has this in abundance. I have but touched on a couple of techniques but there are so much more. Now if this could just be included in the curriculum as standard. Just imagine.