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This month it was a pleasure to meet and interview the UK trainer Bella Rowe, and to learn about her tips on being a corporate trainer and to learn about how she got into the industry by way of the London School of Music and Dramatic Art. Bella runs her own training company, The Speak.
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself Bella
I am a performance and communication skills practitioner based in London.
I was classically trained in a range of performance disciplines at The London School of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA), and have over a decade of experience applying those skills in professional settings.
I combine an astute understanding of business interactions with a host of tried-and-tested communication and performance techniques that help you get to the point, and make a tangible difference to your impact.
I am passionate about helping people overcome the obstacles to clear communication; cutting through all the nerves and corporate jargon and thriving rather than surviving under pressure.
I deliver unpretentious workshops and one-to-one training sessions to give my clients simple and accessible tools and techniques that can be utilized immediately.
From preparing for an important speech or presentation/pitch to internal communications or interviews, I focus on the authentic self-shining through, confident projection and presence, and banishing nerves and anxiety.
2. How did you get involved with Freelance/Corporate Training
I was trained at one of the best drama schools in the world on how to project and perform under pressure.
When I went into the business world, I was struck by how poorly most people present themselves and communicate.
There was a real lack of genuine engagement and a lot of formal, nervous parroting. I was on both sides of the presenting table (pitching to clients and receiving supplier presentations) on a daily basis, and I noticed that the successful speakers were using many of the performance techniques I had learned at LAMDA.
This led me to think about how I could combine my experience in performance with my knowledge of professional presenting and communicating.
I drew on my experiences helping friends and family with speeches and interview prep, and began offering pilot sessions to charities and small businesses to gain experience and valuable feedback on my training methods.
The training evolved from there and I have now delivered workshops and one-to-one coaching sessions to a wide variety of national and international businesses and individuals, always tailored to their needs, both virtually and in person.
3. What subjects do you provide training on? Your Top 5?
My training is always tailored to the specific needs of the organization or individual, but can include:
Communicating Complex Ideas with Focus, Fluency, and Flair
With this training, I put an emphasis on being in the moment and finding an authentic flow.
Speaking with Confidence & Optimizing Personal Influence
I provide training for these both for prepared speeches and pitches and for when you are called upon to speak ‘off-the-cuff’ or to answer unexpected questions.
Status & Impact Training
This training involves learning how to hold your own in a boardroom or client meeting.
Furthermore, it is about learning how to manipulate your status in real-time in order to have the greatest impact.
Overcoming Performance Anxiety Training
Performance anxiety training is about learning how to control the nerves and use the adrenaline to your advantage.
This training can be especially useful as almost all of us experience nerves and some form of anxiety when performing.
Structuring and Delivering an Exceptional Presentation
This involves learning the secrets of storytelling to be memorable and engaging, and a fool-proof template for structuring your message.
I teach vocal training with a focus on breath control, tone, and posture for projection and self-management.
The interview preparation involves coaching applicants on all aspects of their personal presentation, body language, vocal control, and drilling content for practice.
I help to provide you with the practical tools and techniques on how to reach through the camera/microphone/speakers and make a personal connection in the virtual arena.
4. What are the biggest challenges as a trainer?
Always being the outsider coming into an organization can be nerve-wracking, even for someone who is teaching people how to overcome nerves!
But I have found that everyone I have worked with so far has been receptive and enthusiastic which helps me blow away the anxiety and dive in.
I also find the range of presenting technologies in organizations to be a little awkward to adjust to, but the learning and development managers are always so helpful in getting me set up in a new space.
I always arrive early so I can test the space and learn my eyelines and the acoustics before the participants arrive.
5. What is your favorite part of being a trainer?
Meeting such a wide variety of people in different roles and stages of their careers. I am naturally nosy and enjoy learning about different careers and hearing about the challenges that people face in their work lives.
I love that no two days are the same and get a huge amount of satisfaction from working with individuals to resolve their specific concerns and tics.
I consider my day to have been successful if the participants leave with even one or two skills that they can walk straight into a meeting and use.
6. How do you identify the training needs of the employees or people you train?
With businesses, I always have a thorough conversation with HR or the L&D team before providing my bespoke proposal so that I can be sure I am covering the training needs of the organization.
At the start of each session, I will have an open conversation with the delegates about what we will be looking at, and always ask if anyone has any specific concerns that they would like me to address with them.
I then always do my best to contextualize the content in a way that is relevant to them.
With individuals, I set up a 15-minute phone call prior to our first session to enable me to get a clear idea of their requirements and prepare accordingly.
I have helped people prepare for venture capital investment pitches, podcasts, best man speeches, and panel hosting (to name a few), so the variety is endless – but there is always a way to make the content relevant and applicable to my client’s circumstances.
But mostly it is practice and experience – I can often tell from a couple of minutes of interaction what an individual needs help with in order to perform to the best of their ability.
7. Your one Tip on how to be a good trainer
Be friendly, approachable, and flexible. There is no ‘one size fits all’ when training people – everyone learns in different ways so you always need to be prepared to take an alternative approach, and change tac if something isn’t getting through.
I always try to keep the atmosphere as casual and inclusive as possible to encourage participation, and get people up on their feet as much as I can so that they feel involved and stimulated – sessions should be a conversation not a lecture!
8. What do you consider to be most important about the training you provide?
I believe that while technology is constantly evolving, there will never be a substitute for person-to-person communication.
So called ‘soft skills’ are the HUMAN skills that machines will never be able to replicate.
So I think the ability to communicate and present effectively, whether in the room or via a webcam, is priceless; it is a skill we will all always need.
Clear communication & the ability to connect with your audience is a skill that is learned, not innate, so we need to be taught in order to improve.
9. What do you like to do outside of work?
I love the theatre, travel, reading, gardening, and going out to eat with friends.
My life outside of work is quite consumed with my toddler at the moment though, so it is a real luxury when I get a moment to do any of these things!
But I wouldn’t have it any other way.
More About Bella and Connecting with Her
From Valeria: Thank you so much Bella for the interview. It’s been really interesting to read your background and your background with the London School of Music and Dramatic Art and how it helped your training business.
Valeria has been involved with education for over 16 years. She has taught in the UK at the University of Bath and Cardiff Metropolitan University (where she got her PhD), in addition to working as a researcher at Exeter University. Valeria additionally has several years of experience of also working with Ofsted and Cardiff University in management roles & is she is the founder of Symonds Training.