The Academy of Oratory
 We help people communicate at their best in any situation

The Academy of Oratory's lead trainers are Giles Abbott and Leon Conrad

"I noticed that when he had finished, 
people were buzzing with refreshed vigor."
Lyndis Harris
Safety, Health and Environment Dept.

Giles Abbott started storytelling in 1999 as a result of losing much of his “useful eyesight” in 1998. Now registered blind, he says,

“Through loss of something I took for granted I have found something I didn’t know I’d lost - the joy of story!”

Giles qualified as a Voice Teacher (MA Voice Studies, CSSD) in early 2006 and taught voice to foundation and diploma drama students for Birkbeck College, University of London, and at Arts Ed. 

He performs regularly at major storytelling festivals all over England. In 2007 he was awarded a British Telecom ‘Speaking & Listening’ Award for a project undertaken for Dubasha Foundation, using storytelling as a mechanism by which children of 3rd generation Guajarati descent were enabled to dramatically increase their confidence, pride and attainment in their bilingual ability. In 2013 he was nominated for a British Association of Storytelling Excellence award for ‘Outstanding Storytelling Performance’, 2013. 

He has contributed to a number of programmes on BBC Radio 4 to talk about his work recording stories for distribution amongst blind children in Calderdale and on the use of rhetorical structures in teaching. His poetry has been published in ‘Dream Catcher’ and ‘The Spectator’. In 2012 he was commissioned to write ‘Breaking the Wall’, a poem set to music by talented young composer, Lloyd Coleman, which was performed by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and co-hosted ‘The Talking Shop’, a series of radio shows with Leon Conrad, about different aspects of storytelling. He worked as a narrative consultant to the Science Museum, London on the Making Modern Communications gallery, opening in autumn 2014. He has written scripts for an ‘ear film’ and an ‘eye film’, both going into production in 2014.


'Leon Conrad has a covetably clear voice ... he cares passionately about the possibilities of the human voice and hates to hear it misused. He says ... "You cannot move someone without being prepared to express what moves you."'

Church Times
Leon Conrad is a highly experienced voice-centred communication skills specialist who has run training courses in voice-centred communication skills for business for over 20 years. In 2007 he was poet-in-residence at the first Edinburgh Food Festival and was invited back to be poet-in-residence at the Pleasance Dome the following year. He has written and produced shows combining traditional storytelling and performance poetry which have been performed in Edinburgh and London, the most recent being “Under The Arabian Moon”, a retelling of stories from The Arabian Nights at The Roundhouse in 2009. 

Leon is fluent in five languages (English, French, Italian, Russian and Arabic) and trains in all five. He has published several articles in academic journals and trade magazines on the subject of effective communication, and been interviewed on BBC Breakfast television as an expert in the subject. In 2012, he co-hosted ‘The Talking Shop’, a series of radio shows with Giles Abbott, about different aspects of storytelling. He is passionate about reviving the integrated approach to teaching the liberal arts, in particular the Trivium of logic, grammar and rhetoric. 

Leon studied voice with The British Voice Association and at Princeton University. He holds a Master’s Degree in the History of Design and Material Culture of the Renaissance from the Royal College of Art, and a graduate diploma from the Trinity College of Music in London. He is a City and Guilds Adult and Further Education Qualified Trainer, a Teaching Associate at The Negotiation Lab, specialising in effective communication techniques for negotiation, and is exploring the links between mathematics, language and logic with Professor George Spencer-Brown.
 
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