Thursday, July 03, 2008

Jab we met...presentation skills weds theatre techniques!

Padamse, the flamboyant, ever-green exhibitionist theatre person turned ad-guru, switches lanes to peddle a new offering. 4Ps B&M’s Monojit Lahiri takes a ringside seat to grab all the action, up-front and full-on!

If there is one person who has continued to define and re-define the meaning of “double life” every moment over the last five decades it has to be the ever-colourful, ever-vibrant, cool n’ sexy Alyque Padamse! Fittingly, his latest whammo is a ‘dramatic’ one – leveraging the skill-set of theatre to power presentation and communication skills of Gen-next communication practitioners, all set to propel Indian’s adworld higher in the global arena.

“The London Institute of Speech & Personality Development – of which I am the Chairman – is an idea whose time has come,” gushes the aging advertising and theatre guru. He believes that it is designed to be a life-altering module created to empower participants of all age groups (with special focus on the younger lot) with fluency in conversation and 360 degrees communication skills. It is a diploma course created to enable them to actualise their full potential in both the personal and professional space, says Padamse. “Powered by the prime mover, Rhea DeMelo (CEO) who is a proven communication and behavioural training expert, and supported by crack team of specialists, it is the Big Idea of the day!”

How did it all come about? Padamse says the real trigger came from his younger daughter Shazahn who was painfully shy and suffered (like Dad?!) from a learning disability. The parents tried, in vain, to draw her out. At one point Padamse suggested theatre. She almost passed out! The Father however persisted and convinced her that nervousness was only a manifestation of energy and excitement. Eventually, after much pushing, she gave in – hesitant, scared, faltering – but within a few months, she actually rocked! “She had conquered fear, embraced confidence and bloomed in front of people and audiences. Right now, Shazahn is auditioning at Yashraj, imagine!”

Great – but can theatre really help chuhas to become loins?! Padamse certainly believes so. Offering a mock grrrrr before answering, he says that he has always believed that a live presentation is a ‘dud’ show if the presenter lacks the personality (style, panache, communication skills, confidence) to pull it off. “Communication is not merely words… it’s words, embellished on the wings of emotion, passion and personality.” Padamse socks a killer punch when he declares that “every individual today has the chance and potential to be his/her organisation’s most powerful brand ambassador, but the requisite skills need to be honed and nurtured.
Enter theatre workshops. This 360 degree technique is unique, exciting and effective because it triggers a dramatic, never-before re-invention of a person’s personality in a dramatic way. How? What’s the procedure? “Step one is inviting the person to read out/speak. This is then video-taped and played back after the completion of the course. The difference – like in Shazahn’s case – can be magical and mind-blowing!” explains Padamse. Then there is the ‘colourisation’ of the voice (which lends it that cutting-edge vibrancy) followed by vocabulary. “This is getting to be a scary area and needs all the help it can get. It’s truly pathetic!” Up next is dressing and the way people wear their clothes. “It’s often so shabby and immediately sends out the wrong signals! It has to be appropriated to the image you need/want to project both at the corporate and personal level! Remember, clothes make the man.” Then comes the attitude – change from lackadaisical and laid-back, nervous or disinterested to positive, assertive, focused, convincing, enthusiastic, confident. Finally, humour. “No one demonstrates this better than Lalu Prasad Yadav. Humour almost always works because it makes people comfortable, helps them loosen up and gets them in a good mood,” he offers.

The Master Presenter then swiftly moves on to explain the ‘theatre’ inputs factored into his programme at the London Institute. Improvisation heads the list. “Life is not tailor-made and there could always be awkward questions from the audience. We teach them the art of how to deal with these blinders effectively.” Then there is the Brain Gym – a very special module that enables people to use their ‘unused’ creative muscle through stimulating exercises, till they rock! Interactivity – a critical component of communication – comes next. “We change the traditional perspective by tutoring candidates on how to ask the questions that will provoke answers from the audience! Then there are separate techniques to be deployed when one is participating in an in-house meeting, showcasing a conference as a principal speaker or appearing in an interview with a blue-chip Corporate. There are also ways on how best to leverage Power-Point, Video-Tape, whatever… to enhance impact in the presentation process,” says Padamse, adding that he believes that one is always presenting (a thought, a message, a plug) to hit target. Whether it’s to extract more pocket money from his/ her kanjoos baap, patao a hot babe, sweet talk a restaurant manager or a college lecturer when in trouble with cash or attendance… coming through persuasively is the key to win and influence, everybody, everywhere!

Okay, fine, good, nice, but has theatre as a confidence builder really taken off with expected target groups? Padamse explains via his experience with the still-nascent (it kicked off in early May) London Institute and is off like a shot. “You bet it has! Corporates like Tata Steel, Infosys and Reliance have already signed on. The general reaction was, why on earth didn’t you kick start this programme earlier?” And how does Alyque intend to peddle his new set of wares from here-on? “Remember today’s HR departments are clued-in and focussed. With our specialised, in-depth range of real-world communication skills on tap, we are going to soar,” says the ad guru turned entrepreneur. Now for the corporates to give their verdict on the ability of theatre techniques to add value to their employees??


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