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How to: Respond in the moment at work

Alison Sutherland, Client Director at RADA Business, the corporate arm of the world-renowned drama school, provides insight into how business professionals can respond in the moment at work, with greater confidence…

Remaining calm and being able to think under pressure is a skill that many of us wish we could develop and master.

Our latest research report, Thinking On Your Feet ( found that a third of professionals find it difficult to think clearly when placed in tense or stressful situations. A quarter also admitted that they can find themselves speaking too quickly when put in high-pressure environments.

Fortunately, there are techniques that PAs can use to help them feel more confident in stressful situations. At RADA Business, we coach professionals by building upon the techniques used by world-leading actors.

Breathe. It might sound obvious, but when we are anxious or nervous, we stop breathing. The key is not to breathe in but rather to breathe out..

Ground yourself and hold your space. When dealing with very senior people, holding your space will help you to convey confidence. Once you’ve planted your feet firmly on the floor, hip-width apart, unlock your knees. Take ownership of the space around you. Feeling grounded will help you to avoid the temptation to shuffle or fidget.

Release tension. Take a moment to loosen up and release by gently tilting your head up then down, left to right, and looking over both your shoulders to release any tension trapped in the upper body. Then, gently shake out your limbs and have a good stretch to release any further tension.

Awaken your voice. Warming up your voice will improve your vocal presence. Take a few deep, slow breaths in and out, then do some humming to wake up your vocal chords. Focus on the vibrations in your chest as you hum, then focus on the vibrations in your mouth and onto your lips. Once your vocal cords are warm, articulate a few tongue twisters by whispering the words a few times, then saying them aloud, very slowly. 

Pause and give yourself time. When we’re put on the spot, it’s easy to feel rushed and compelled to respond quickly. Don’t. Take the time to pause, breathe and really think about what you want to say next.

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