As someone who is a corporate coach of sorts, Charlie Walker Wise is often asked by clients the secret to controlling a room during a meeting or presentation. His advice to them is to command, not control.
“Control suggests tension, which is the enemy of communication. By letting go and releasing that, we can move from “controlling” the room to “commanding” it – that’s a much more powerful and exciting proposition,” says Walker Wise, an actor and also a client director at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) UK’s Business division, which helps companies and CEOs with their presentation skills.
In an interview with The Entrepreneurs magazine, Walker Wise was asked what companies could learn from stage schools. He said, “One misconception about acting is that it’s about lying: pretending to be someone who you’re not. It’s really the opposite, it’s about finding the truth. In business there’s another word for that – authenticity. It’s the same thing. Actors have to be able to convey emotion in a convincing and believable manner in order to make the audience feel something. But that doesn’t mean that they have to be able to cry their eyes out. That’s often a really bad way of conveying emotion.”
A client’s designation did not necessarily matter when it came to learning presentation skills.
“It doesn’t matter whether you’re the MD or whether you are the floor washer,” Walker Wise said. “We all have the same physical tools to use. We all have a body and a voice and breath for communication. Our training approaches everyone from the same place.”
RADA Business clients include insurance and banking companies, technology firms, media and broadcasters and advertising and design industries.Explaining their motivation to learn from drama tutors, Walker Wise said, “Organisations develop and celebrate people for technical excellence but there comes a time when you have to lead, present, connect and sell ideas in ways that are engaging – to tell a story that connects with other human beings. We offer skills and techniques and some fundamental principles. We’re in the business of creating self-awareness and the overriding issue that we deal with is confidence. People need to be able to demonstrate it.”