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Theatre Skills for Business: Learning to Captivate Your Audience

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Delivering workshops which use skills from the world of theatre to coach business professionals, Theatre Skills for Business is a training and development programme developed by the Abbey Theatre.
Marie Lawlor talks to The Daily Slog about how accessing your inner thespian can help to hone key skills across all levels of an organisation – including communication skills and presence, storytelling, creative thinking and team collaboration.

 

How did the idea for the workshop first come about?

“We have been working with business clients since 2013. It grew from individual coaching for business clients to a more structured set of workshops and coaching sessions. We are deeply engaged in the craft of theatre and we use the same creative rigor in our business workshops.

To date the programme has trained a wide range of clients including AIB, Google, Irish Life, Dublin Airport, IAPI, Smurfit School of Business, Social Entrepreneurs, Ikea and ESB to name but a few.

Our workshops are relevant for anyone in business who wants to enhance their communication skills, collaborative skills and creative thinking. We have worked with SME’s, global organizations, startups and solopreneurs.

We work with our clients to devise a clear brief of what learning outcomes individuals / businesses are hoping to achieve. We then tailor our delivery to ensure we meet those needs.”

 

It is about being fully in the moment and having the power to affect an audience.

 

Whilst the idea of getting up on stage in front of your boss and colleagues is terrifying to some, Marie explains that participants are guided through the practical elements of the workshop, and that all levels of the organisation have something to learn.

“Practical exercises in the workshop would include a focus on breath, voice and physicality. We focus on the delivery and how each of the above elements can be enhanced to add real impact and confidence to your communication style.

We offer coaching to senior executives also. They may be very experienced and confident in their own speaking style but they want to become more affective and inspiring. They want to find that extra something to take them to the next level.”

 

Great acting is inspiration supported by strong technique so that it looks effortless.

 

What are the skills that can be taken from performance art and transferred to the business world?

“Great acting is inspiration supported by strong technique so that it looks effortless. It is about being fully in the moment and having the power to affect an audience. These same skills are of great value in the world of business. e.g. how to own your space to help you communicate with confidence, how to find a more dynamic voice so that your words have greater impact, how you build rapport with your audience, how you communicate your story with clarity and impact.

All of these skills are key to communicating your business story effectively and influencing clients and colleagues.

We use a number of storytelling techniques from theatre to give participants the skills to shape and communicate stories which really connect with their audiences. Exploring physicality, the power of the visual and the power of an authentic voice, participants learn skills which will enable them to inspire and motivate their audiences.”

 

Andrea and Phil Theatre Skills for Business
Phil Kingston & Andrea Ainsworth, Programme Facilitators

 

What are the key skills participants can expect to walk away with?

“Our workshops are unique and take a very different approach to the usual presentation skills/team building training. Taking to the stage of the National Theatre can initially be quite daunting for some but ultimately the feedback from participants is that they really loved the experience and came away with PRACTICAL learnings that they can immediately apply to their roles.

Our next open workshop is ‘Presenting with Impact’ which will be running in October. The workshop will be led by the Abbey Theatre Voice Director, Andrea Ainsworth, and will focus on giving participants a toolkit of skills which will enable them to be more confident and impactful communicators whether in presentations/one to one meetings/networking events.”

 

For more information visit: www.abbeytheatre.ie or call Marie Lawlor on 00 353 1 8797302 (marie.lawlor@abbeytheatre.ie).

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