Monday’s article “Man Up!” in the Evening Standard subverted the common perception of drama schools being populated solely by young thespians muttering Shakespeare soliloquies whilst stretching at the barre in black leggings. Instead, RADA played host to a group of businessmen and women and held the increasingly popular two-day “Personal Impact in Meetings” group course which teaches corporate executives “practical physical and vocal techniques to improve communication” and how to be “more powerful, confident and effective in business.”
History has proved that this is not an unusual coalition; actors have often been called upon to advise people in various job sectors on how to effectively communicate. Thatcher’s political strategist recognised the authority and influence that came with being a confident public speaker. He sought Laurence Olivier’s advice which led to Thatcher attending voice coaching lessons at the National Theatre and soon “the hectoring tones of the housewife gave way to softer notes and a smoothness that seldom cracked except under extreme provocation on the floor of the House of Commons.” Whatever your views on the former Prime Minister are, the improvement in her communication skills was unfortunately undeniable.
The rigorous training at drama school equips the actor with the technical skill that is required in holding the attention of an audience. In a business world where promotions hinge on adroit presentational skills and the ability to pitch ideas in an engaging fashion – the professionally trained actor is golden. No other job focuses so intently on the importance of captivating listeners; actors understand that it isn’t just what you say, but how you say it that is important. Breath, posture, voice, eye contact and even attire (or “costume”) affect your ability to communicate.
With drama schools now offering courses to business executives, the demand for an actor’s perspective in the corporate world has never been greater. Audition Doctor has had a marked increase in demand from clients in the corporate sector. Many businessmen and women prefer one-on-one sessions as opposed to the group sessions which some drama schools and companies offer. Private lessons under Tilly’s focused tutelage foster a less self-conscious atmosphere and quicker progress.