“Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.”

Vince Lombardi

The Practice Room is the place to learn and practise great communication. Feel the power of using your whole person to engage and move people. From the moment you come through the door. Whether it’s a meeting, presentation, negotiation or pitch.

Effective communication is about more than just getting your point across clearly.  It’s about having conversations with people.  About letting them know you’re addressing their hopes and concerns, that you’re listening to what they say (and don’t say), that you’re involving them, that they’re important to you, you’re carrying them with you.  That you’re conversing with them.

The Practice Room is all about giving you the tools and the space to practise these things so they become instinctive.

And when they do, they’ll transform every conversation you have – whether it’s a meeting, presentation, negotiation or a pitch.

About

The Practice Room provides experiential training for small groups.

It draws upon key elements of the flagship You brand coaching programme, an intensive transformational one-on-one coaching experience developed and honed over 25 years to be the only communication coaching programme of its kind. (Visit www.youbrand.com)

The Practice Room makes key aspects of You brand more widely accessible.  It offers a range of high quality communication workshops for groups, focusing on specific situations as well as personal skills, and in a shorter time and at a lower cost per person.

Training in The Practice Room is practical and experiential. You won’t learn just what to do, but how to do it. How to look and sound confident even if you don’t feel it. How to turn your ‘content’ into messages that are really heard and press the right buttons in people. How to negotiate interactions and conversations so as to get the best out of people and turn challenging situations around. The Practice Room is:

  • an integrated team of trainers, facilitators and role players.
  • a bespoke blend of training, facilitation, improvisation and scenario work tailored to your communication training needs.
  • a balance of theory, practice and feedback
  • a safe, creative and challenging place where you can practise key skills before you take them into real workplace situations
  • where you can develop understanding and confidence to communicate yourself in the best, most effective ways possible.

Philosophy

How the brain responds to practice

Why bother practising?

Neural science tells us that the brain recognises repeated patterns (practice) and produces myelin, a fatty tissue that increases the speed and strength of nerve impulses and creates strong pathways in the brain. This makes us faster and more efficient at doing a certain sequence of actions or behaving in a certain way. We practise because it really does make us better.

On the job experience is essential to getting really good at anything.  The hard knocks of real life are important.  But without proper practice in a safe environment, the knocks can be very hard indeed, the mistakes sometimes irrecoverable, and any ‘learning’ just an endless replay of the same old mistakes.  So our philosophy is that practice is good (we come from the highly practical discipline of the theatre), but only if it’s the right practice.

Using performance techniques combined with intuitive psychological models, The Practice Room will help you work out and practise the right things in the right way.  So not only will you feel immediate benefits in your communication and interactions in the workplace, but you’ll also have a solid platform from which to grow through on the job experience.

Workshops

The Practice Room is a very flexible place!

We’ll work with you to design something that will produce an effective outcome that you can use immediately. Here are some of of the things we’ve helped people with:

  • Make presentations that wow people
  • Win that pitch
  • Leave a lasting impression on clients, prospects and investors
  • Stay on top of your feelings when you’re negotiating
  • How to listen empathically and actively, to turn information into intelligence
  • Unblock the energy within your team
  • How to sell an idea to a senior person
  • How can I be more confident and assertive?
  • How to walk the talk as a leader
  • Managing your team – and the people above you!
  • Shine in interviews
  • How do I get this ‘emotional intelligence’ stuff?
  • Conducting a performance review that’s constructive without pulling punches
  • How to come across at your best in a media interview
  • Speech training

– and in all of these, how to be more of you!

Here are some workshops we often run. These are great for individual personal development, for bonding teams and establishing a shared perspective around a given situation, or for helping to ensure that people perform at their best in business critical meetings. Workshops typically last half a day or a day.

Foundation workshop

Unlock the secret of personal impact, and discover the magic ingredient used by professional presenters and speakers.  Understand better how you are seen by other people, and start to change how you look and sound so that you come over as natural, real and engaging wherever you go.  Move from being an amateur communicator to a professional one.

This is a highly effective training programme in its own right; but it’s also a great platform for our Application Workshops.

Application workshops

Practise ‘getting it out of your mouth’ in a safe and supportive environment, using scenarios that simulate your own real-life communication situations.

Our powerful Transactional Analysis model will give you a new understanding of the forces at work in an interaction, and will help you steer presentations, conversations and negotiations to the most productive outcome possible.

We can co-design scenarios with you in advance, or else improvise on the spot in response to participant requirements.

Demonstration workshops

These are introductory workshops that can present concepts like Emotional Intelligence in Action, Transactional Analysis or Performance Energy to larger groups. A typical workshop centres on an area or situation of immediate relevance to the organisation and often includes Forum Theatre – where role players work a scenario and use the audience to advise them how to improve the situation, so that the impact can be seen in action. Audience members can even elect to take the ‘hot seat’ themselves for a while to try the experience first-hand!

Off-sites and Away Days

Our workshops are great for off-sites that are really energising and full of practical learning. We’ve run sessions for up to 80 people in personal impact and active listening.

Role-play

We work with several companies using role play as a method of training and evaluating their employees, as part of their assessment and development centres for example. These packages use customised scenarios to address workplace issues most relevant to you, with incisive and sensitive feedback from the role player, both verbal and written as required.  Scenario based training sessions can be included.

All of these are intended only as an indication of the sort of thing we can do.  We can design workshops for larger groups and different timeframes – we’d be happy to discuss any requirements you have.  The Practice Room is a place of rich possibilities.  So bring us your challenge and we’ll meet it if we possibly can.

Tools

Our focus is very much on practical learning by doing. But this isn’t just a load of hints and tips – the ‘doing’ is underpinned by intuition friendly models and theory, including …

  • Components of Impact – we use the Mehrabian wheel (based on the research of psychologist Albert Mehrabian) to examine the components of personal impact and the relative importance of
    – how you look: body language, expression, gesture etc.
    – how you sound: tone of voice, pitch, pace
    – what you say: the words you use
    … and, very important, the need for congruence between these three!
  • Performance Energy – we draw upon training for the professional actor; not to try and turn you into an actor, but rather as a way of understanding what kind of energy and focus is required to transmit your persona and your message to an ‘audience’ – whether that’s one person or 500.   Mastery of performance energy is the key to lifting personal communication out of the hit and miss of the amateur and into the consistent and reliable level of the professional.
  • Storywheel – a benchmarking framework to help ensure that your ‘content’ lifts off into an engaging message that is focused and targeted, with you at the heart of it.
  • Transactional Analysis – a way of breaking down any interaction between people to understand what is really happening, and strategies for making things work better. Transactional Analysis helps you understand yourself and other people with greater clarity and provides the backbone of future successful communications.

… and all of this brought together through Role play Scenario practice – working with a professional role player allows you to practise difficult conversations or challenging situations in a safe and guided place. Repetition allows you to improve on your skills before you take them back into your place of work.

Depending on the activity and size of the group, we frequently film the situations and scenarios. Playback and analysis open up understanding of how you think you come over and how you are actually perceived. There’s nearly always a gap!  Work in The Practice Room helps you to bridge that gap, making your communication more, congruent, emotionally intelligent and effective.

Assignments

Our recent assignments include:

European Private Equity Firm

  • developing salesforce and fundraising effectiveness
  • negotiating adviser fees
  • negotiating composition of a portfolio company board
  • having more open and supportive conversations internally

Global Oil & Gas Company

  • developing greater collaboration within and between teams
  • building clarity and power in leadership communication

Law Firm

  • a demonstration workshop to illuminate the most effective behaviour in response to proposed new employment legislation

One of the UK’s fastest growing investment companies

  • a demonstration workshop focusing on how to conduct performance reviews and exit interviews that are compassionate and honest.
  • a series of half-day workshops on Transactional Analysis and Emotional Intelligence in action – helping turn theory into practice!

Big 5 Bank

  • we wrote, directed, produced and toured a short play featuring bank employees and professional actors to disseminate understanding of major organisational change within their IT department.  Shot this as a training video.

Private Equity House

  • devised and ran a two-day drama workshop as a communication development and team building exercise
  • a series of Company-wide workshops to develop positive impact, relationship building and negotiation skills
  • ‘Effective Listening’ away day for 80 people

Leading Actuarial Firm

  • designed and ran a series of ‘cue script’ workshops to improve communication, listening and teamworking

Clients

Our current clients include …

“The Practice Room really help you make an impact during a presentation. For me the real difference in their approach is the focus on how to say it, rather than what to say. This approach coupled with some of the most passionate trainers in the business meant the team came away with only positive things to say about the day – with the added bonus they were all better presenters than when they stepped into the room in the morning.”

Benjamin Gunnee FIA – Head of Fiduciary Management (UK)  Mercer

“Working with The Practice Room has been an absolute pleasure. We spotted them initially at a Forum Theatre workshop two years ago and have been using them as part of our Leadership Programme ever since. Everybody I have worked with has fitted our culture perfectly, really caring, customer focused, lots of humility and so open to feedback at every stage, whether this is super positive or developmental; this tells me they will do whatever it takes to hit the spot for you! The energy and enthusiasm that comes with all the people I have worked with is so refreshing and engaging. We have particularly found challenging role plays to refresh the learning on Transactional Analysis of great benefit for us, and have received similar feedback from the learners themselves. If you are looking for something different that uses TA theory and tools I would definitely recommend them."

Kirstie Hawton, Octopus Investments

"KPMG’s Senior Manager Centre has a great reputation as a development centre. Participants get the chance to take stock of their skills and find out what they’re doing well and what they could improve. They get so much out of the personal feedback they receive, notably from the professional role-players, who are a crucial part. The role-players act so believably, as key staff in the case study company, that participants forget almost instantly that they’re doing a role-play at all. They are skilled at reacting to how the participants approach the scenarios - responding to their emotions (or lack of) as well as the process they adopt. And, given many years of working with KPMG, the role-players have a good understanding of the culture and nature of the firm, even if they’re not technical experts. But it is in the feedback sessions that their experience comes to the fore. Being able to draw on exactly what participants said and did is a rich seam of material on which to base discussions. The role-player feedback covers how the participants made them feel - because we do business with people, and relationships are key. Sometimes the messages are hard to swallow. But the participants always state how lucky they have been to get such pertinent and valuable comments. And the role-players deliver those messages with sensitivity and a desire to help participants become the very best they can.”

Emma Scott Smith Director, Heliotrope Learning Limited

Team

All our trainers, facilitators and role-players are from a professional acting background.

They’re specifically trained in the tools we use and in helping people to work out and develop their impact in different situations, and they’re great at giving sensitive, constructive and incisive feedback.

Here are a few members of the team ...

Helena Michell

Richard Bates

Sian Richardson

Lloyd Campbell

Kate Harper

Deirdre O'Connell

Conrad Hornby

Kerry Wotton

Marianne O'Connor

Nelly Ward

Patrick Poletti

Robert Shaw Cameron

Contact

The Practice Room

Canalot Studios
222 Kensal Road
London W10 5BN

The nearest tubes are Westbourne Park and Ladbroke Grove, both on the Hammersmith & City and Circle lines.  Canalot is about a 15 minute walk from either station.  The nearest mainline station is Paddington, about 20 minutes by taxi.

Metered street parking is usually available (£1.10 per hour, maximum stay 10 hours). We are not in the Congestion Charging zone.

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