Wednesday, 18 May 2011
Corporate training using actors: Giving call centre agents a (better) voice: "What is it with call centres and that irritating and annoying voice many agents have? At Hendrix the Dog we talk to contact centres abou..."
What is it with call centres and that irritating and annoying voice many agents have?
At Hendrix the Dog we talk to contact centres about what type of voice training they give their staff. Bearing in mind call centre agents only have their voice (and body) to work with we expect to hear a list of interesting voice techniques and training reeled out to us.
Yet the reality is very few actually take this area as seriously as they should. So much of the training budget is spent on technology that the human aspect of customer interaction is sometimes forgotten.
Consumers tell researchers time and again that they want to talk to a human being when they call a company and they are not happy And, if they are lucky enough to get through to someone, they need to feel that the person they are talking to is listening to them and has empathy with them.
Our actors run Tone of Voice workshops to help call centre agents use their voice more effectively. Actors train for years to perfect their voice, work on inflections, accentuation and tone. They are also experts at listening and responding, and keeping their energy levels up so their 'audience' remains engaged.
The call centre agent's audience is on the other end of the phone. They need to be listened to and responded to and not bombarded with the company's key messages which may not be relevant or may need to be refined to be better targeted.
When you go to the theatre you want the actors to perform as if it is fresh to them. It may be the 100th time they have performed a scene but you don't care...it is the first time you have seen it. Similarly, someone who calls a contact centre at 4.55pm wants to be treated the same as someone who called at 9am. They do not care that the agent has had a bad day and has to rush off to take the dog to the vet.
There are voice tips and energy ideas that actors bring to their voice every time they perform and which call centre agents can use.
The deadliest call centre sin can be to not only read from a script but sound as if you are reading from a script! Is there anything more likely to turn off a consumer?
Actors use a script all the time but know how to use it effectively. They mark out which words to emphasise and where to breathe and pause. Call centre agents who try the same will find their script comes to life and the person they are speaking to is not bored to tears.
Monday, 4 April 2011
Corporate training using actors: Acting skills calm nerves when giving presentation...: "The link between the theatre and the workplace is closer than you might think. We all have 'audiences' who critique us at work and who..."
The link between the theatre and the workplace is closer than you might think.
We all have 'audiences' who critique us at work and who we need to engage. Like an actor we have objectives to meet from everything we do and we need our audience, whether our boss, a client or a colleague, to respond in the right way.
When it comes to delivering presentations actors can share their presenting secrets. When we are asked to present to an internal or external audience we, like an actor on stage, have only our voice and body to work with.
Unless we learn to use both effectively and find ways to calm our nerves any presentation can be boring and ineffective as the audience switches off, however important the content. It can also mean an over-reliance on PowerPoint.
Actors study for years to hone their vocal and physical skills and anyone who needs to present at work can dip into the acting toolbox and bring out something to help them.
Let's start with breathing.
When we get nervous our breathing can get shallow and we run out of breath. Often this is because people breathe from the lungs rather than the diaphragm as actors do on stage. The diaphragm is a muscle which can be trained through practice to give you more breath during any presentation, especially if the nerves arrive mid-way through your speech.
Another mistake people often make before they start speaking is to try and clear their throat. This can damage the vocal cords and dry the throat. The best thing to do is to yawn. This opens the mouth and throat and stretches the jaw as well as letting in oxygen.
In fact, In the same way you would warm up before running you should also warm up the mouth, jaw and tongue. Actors will pretend they are chewing a toffee to really exercise the jaw and recite tongue twisters to get the mouth juices flowing.
Try it the next time you are waiting to present.
Q3MMUDJJCQM6Next time: the importance of tone of voice when presenting http://www.hendrixthedog.org/