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ImageAre your presentation skills putting your message across or just putting your audience to sleep? Leading coach Lin Sagovsky offers some tongue-in-cheek advice about what NOT to do if you want to connect with your audience.

  • Look for the most dimly-lit spot on the stage or in the room and stand in it throughout the presentation. Having your back to strong light from a window is also a great one - turns you into a mysterious silhouette and dazzles your audience at the same time.
  • Make sure the room is hot. Then people at the back can have a nice kip while you’re talking.
  • Stand on one leg, or with one leg crossed right over the other (especially effective for women in long skirts - makes you look as if you've got your feet on the wrong way round.)
  • Keep one hand in a pocket. Every so often, jingle some change (works for women too - though gentlemen, remember when you've no loose change to play with you have a major advantage here: you can always take the opportunity for a quick rearrangement of some intimate furniture. It'll keep a smile on your face - if no-one else's.)
“Make sure the room is hot. Then people at the back can have a nice kip while you’re talking.”
  • Accompany your presentation throughout with a slow barn dance. (And forward on the right, cross over with the left, step backwards on the right, and-a sideways with the left. And dozey doh, repeat.)
  • If you’re tall, try the 'ship at sea': swaying gently from side to side as you speak is riveting to watch. Rather like a metronome. (Remember to supply discreet little bags for seasickness. Yours or anyone else's.)
  • Wagging one finger will make everything you say emphatic. (AND. WHEN. IN. DOUBT. EMPHASISE. EVERYTHING.) Repeating the same gesture throughout your speech will prove to us how hard you've worked to look authoritative.
  • No-one is paying you to speak from the heart, so whenever you use your hands, keep your elbows pinned to your sides and shoulders tense. This will successfully disconnect your gestures from your torso, rather like that party game where someone hides behind you with their arms through your sleeves and makes your gestures for you. (If people think it also makes you look a bit like a distressed penguin, they're just being cruel. To penguins.)
  • Try never to look at the audience. If you must take your eyes off your notes or the screen, make sure it's only ever to look at one person in the front row (probably the one who's laughing at your jokes).
  • If you have a Q&A session after the presentation, make sure you take at least one pace backwards every time someone asks you a question you can't really answer. (Then, obviously, answer the question you wish you had been asked.)
Following a BA Hons. in Drama from Manchester University, Lin Sagovsky trained to act at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and then studied for a Master's degree in Playwriting in the USA. Alongside a career as an actor and voice artist, in the mid 1980s she began scripting corporate training and marketing films for organisations like Shell International, British Aerospace, Prudential, the Post Office, the Alzheimer's Society and the Foreign Office. Over the years she has become passionate about taking drama beyond the walls of the theatre or recording studio to combine her skills in a spectrum of live business contexts: as a role-player and forum theatre performer, a writer and director of interactive plays, a facilitator of interpersonal skills workshops, a private coach in speaking with confidence, and a creative consultant. Recent clients have included Compass Group, Baker Tilly, Unilever, 2TG Barristers’ Chambers, The Housing Corporation, The Medical Research Council, Mars, Unilever, Henley College of Management, SGAM, UBS and Zurich Commercial. You can find more information about Lin and her work at  www.play4real.co.uk – or contact her on 07957 331997, or at   info@play4real.co.uk.
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