Drama-based training may seem like an extravagant option, but it can have a role to play in certain scenarios.
One thing drama-based training is good at is bringing theory alive. This is particularly true for training on communicating with other people – be it communication skills, leadership, change management, or interviewing techniques.
“Any training relating to interacting with others lends itself well to drama,” says Mary Pierson, director at Oval Consulting, and a business psychologist. “It makes it much more of a learning, developmental experience than just talking about tools and techniques.”
Drama-based training is also used a lot for issue-based programmes, such as diversity or equal opportunities. Not only is it a good way of encouraging debate and getting the message across, but it can also revitalise topics that staff often complain have become formulaic and a ‘ticking the right boxes’ exercise.
Because it is such an immediate, engaging way to conduct training, it can have a much greater impact than some of the more traditional methods. Obviously, there are some instances where it is not appropriate – learning new IT skills or detailed learning of theory, for example.
Drama can be used for conducting large-scale training programmes, such as a play for an audience of 100-200. This can be compelling for an organisation that needs to put large numbers through a programme, but still needs the training to have a high impact.
But, according to Ian Jessup, senior partner at drama training providers Interact, the best results come from working with smaller groups. “You can really work on people’s individual skills with smaller groups,” he says. “The more practice they have through the training, the more effective it is, and they get more practice in smaller groups.”
Most of Interact’s work is skills training, from one-to-one coaching to groups of up to 18. Jessup says numbers tend to be broken down into one or two people at very senior level, one to four at senior level, four to eight at middle to senior level, and eight to 18 at middle to junior level.