Staff Writer Bi Jingo
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Are you getting the most out of your role-players?

9th Jan 2018
Staff Writer Bi Jingo
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Emma Jowett tells the community about the benefits of role play and drama-based training.

Drama-based training, namely role-play, can make a huge impact in businesses across all industry sectors. It’s no surprise really that actually feeling best practice in action is typically much more effective in developing behaviours than simply talking about it in a training room. In his best-selling book 'The Talent Code', Daniel Coyle found that there are certain training, motivation and coaching patterns that are common to the world’s greatest ‘talent hotbeds’. He claims that all of these organisations, big or small, understand the fundamental mechanisms through which the brain acquires skills. In short, experience, practice, feedback and repetition are the key ingredients to unlocking a person’s true talents. This is why role-play is considered a hugely beneficial training tool for many businesses.

That said, there is currently little in the way of moderation or accreditation for actors entering the corporate training arena. Great acting skills are obviously essential in making a role-play engage and resonate with its participants. An actor’s spontaneity, quick thinking, ability to create real-life scenarios and respond with believability and emotion are all key in delivering an effective training role-play. But are good acting skills enough? Does a strong actor always make a great role-player?

While some people might assume that a role-player just needs to play a part, there’s a strong argument to suggest that acting ability should be just one component in a range of skills needed to get real results in the training arena. The art of role-playing is much more complex than it is perhaps given credit for, with experienced role-players bringing a whole armoury of skills into the training room.

For starters, it is essential that a role-player is aware of and understands organisational culture. An approach that works in one organisation may feel totally misplaced in another. In addition, an understanding of different personality traits and how they impact those around them is extremely helpful in forming appropriate characters and testing delegates’ responses. A clear knowledge of management models and leadership behaviours can also be crucial in steering a role-play to achieving its desired learning outcomes. Above all, the ability to quickly and succinctly deliver on-the-spot feedback and facilitate necessary behavioural change is an obvious necessity.

An informal approach to recruiting role-players gives little assurance for businesses in terms of getting value for money from their training sessions. A structured, externally endorsed training programme for actors entering the training profession would be hugely beneficial. Not only would it thoroughly equip actors for work in corporate training, it would also raise standards amongst role-players and give clients some assurance of quality.

While a talented actor may be able to deliver a convincing, Oscar-worthy role-play, businesses must ask whether their role-players are actually developing their workforce in the best possible way. What are your experiences with corporate role-play? As a business, do you actively seek some assurance of quality/training from your role-players?

Emma Jowett is a staff writer for Bi-Jingo. You can read more about the Bi-Jingo Academy here

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