This Summer we trialled a new series of evening courses a Foundation Suite designed to teach the basics in presentation skills. Members of the RADA Business team, Charlie and Emma reflect on the experience of designing and attending the courses respectively.

From a Tutor

Launching a new open course usually involves about a year of discussions, briefings, trials and revisions before we feel comfortable putting it in front of the public. We then usually allow two years before we expect the course to sell itself and become fully embedded in our open course curriculum. Not so the Foundation Suite.

Earlier this year we decided we needed an additional course which offered people the flexibility of training in the evening. This led us towards offering some fundamentals of business communication that no one ever teaches you. Thus the Foundation Suite was born: four courses covering essential physical and vocal technique, how to make a good first impression and networking skills. Fundamental skills we all know we need but rarely put the time into acquiring.

Something about the framing of these courses hit the zeitgeist and they sold out in record time, we could probably have filled them a second time. What was it about them that was so appealing? For the first time we’ve created a self-selecting modular programme which meant that people could choose to come on one, two, three or all four of the courses. Moreover, if you decided just to do a couple of them you could complete the set later in the year. Modular courses are now very much on our agenda.

We are trying to push the boundaries of our teaching and in doing so have aligned ourselves more closely with the teaching on RADA’s core three year training. Each aspect of this course is taught by a different tutor which means that like our students, delegates benefit from the breadth of experience that different tutors bring to their teaching, allowing them to take from each tutor what works for them and assimilate it into their own approach. As with the BA acting courses, the Foundation Suite profits from different approaches, repetitive practice and time between sessions to absorb and reflect on the work allowing for a deeper and more lasting learning experience.

Charlie Walker-Wise, Client Director

From a Delegate

It is always exciting to be present at the start of a new course with RADA Business, so as I and eleven other professionals came together for an evening to learn how to use our Physical Presence I was looking forward to seeing how our new Foundation Suite would be received. A lot of the delegates on this course were coming to RADA Business for the first time, lending to the anticipation and excitement already in the room.

We started by looking at how developing a strong neutral posture can ground us and create more gravitas. One of the participants mentioned how certain people on the Tube always seem to assert a bubble of space around them; our tutor Abi explained that this is fundamentally linked to their posture and stance which affects how we perceive them. As we practiced exercises and different stances there was a shift in the atmosphere with people allowing themselves to inhabit more space.

Abi then led us through further exercises to establish the importance of eye-contact and gesticulation when communicating in meetings, networking events or any other presenting scenarios. Many of us feel highly conscious of either over-using or under-using these tools in our presentations; by reconnecting to our neutral posture, Abi enabled us to find those gestures more naturally.

Another particularly powerful exercise involved us taking turns, in small groups, to make eye contact with our counterparts for 30 seconds. This was an intense experience, but illustrated how much connectivity you claim through eye contact. It suggested possibilities in our business relationships if we were to use these simple techniques to open up more authentic connections.

We covered a lot on this one short evening session finishing with the chance to practice everything we learned by delivering a short presentation. The energy was really great and I left feeling empowered and ready for the next challenge. For many of the participants on the course this involved taking further sessions in the Foundation Suite - physical and vocal technique, first impressions and networking skills.

Emma Oakley, Client Manager