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Pitch perfect

Want to give presentations that wow your audience? Karen Glossop will show you how to craft your message and deliver it with confidence.

"I got into teaching by accident. Many years ago, when I was a struggling actor, a neighbour knocked on my door and said, 'Darling, would you help me coach some British Airways executives to deliver presentations for a global marketing event?' That neighbour was Yvonne Gilan, a former actress, event producer and a pioneer in using the Arts in business training and development. She's been an important mentor for me; I said yes and have never looked back.

"Teaching is very rewarding. I love to see people taking ownership over their ideas, engaging an audience and winning others over to the message. I learn as much from my students as they do from me.

"People often say they want to be more confident. I can't snap my fingers and make that happen, but I can equip them with practical skills that will lead to confidence if they put in the work. This confidence is their success, not mine. My job is to make sure people have the techniques to relax in front of an audience; to encourage them to think analytically - and creatively - about how to structure a speech or presentation; and to nudge them to take positive risks in how they present themselves and their message.

"Everything I do is driven by the belief that the need to communicate is fundamental to our humanity. I'm particularly fascinated by how stories allow us to express complex truths in a way that is both accessible and illuminating.

"When I'm not teaching, I work as a writer and performer with the theatre company I co-founded, Wishbone. We perform original, visually-driven work which tours nationally and to Europe. Our most recent show - The Xavier Project - premiered at this summer's Latitude Festival, and we're currently planning a tour for Spring 2015. I love the collaboration of theatre and the excitement of performing; I find these joys in teaching too.

"One of my City students, who was very nervous about presenting, wrote a short speech about her social enterprise, which helps tsunami survivors set up in business. She delivered it at the Japanese Embassy in front of the Ambassador and various VIPs. The CEO of the bank where she works in her day job was in the audience. He was astonished to see her at the Embassy event, as he had no idea about this other side to her life. He congratulated her on her inspiring speech. That was just one of the many compliments and offers of support she earned that night.

"Only last term, one of my students successfully changed jobs. Part of her successful interview included making a presentation, which she felt was a key factor in impressing the panel. Other goals people achieve include: making best man speeches, developing successful pitches for creative work to clients, getting comfortable in new professional roles where presentations are no longer avoidable and many more.

"My advice for any prospective student? Track down former students to find out how they rated their experience; have in mind a specific goal you'd like the course to help you achieve; expect to learn from and network with fellow students once you're on the course; be prepared to share your own knowledge and experience with the class; don't think of the course as an island - start using what you're learning immediately during the week; commit to joined-up learning: think of the weekly classes as pieces of a jigsaw that will come together at the completion of the course.

"The Presentation Skills short course at City is one of my favourite courses to teach, as it really allows people to develop skills and confidence over time. I start gently and then gradually build up the challenges for the students. I do a lot of preparation. And I watch and listen like a hawk so I can pick up on the needs of every individual. I want to create the conditions for people to enjoy themselves while learning, and space for them to build bonds with each other, as well as trust in me."

Karen Glossop teaches the Presentation Skills short course at City, University of London.

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City, University of London is an independent member institution of the University of London. Established by Royal Charter in 1836, the University of London consists of 18 independent member institutions with outstanding global reputations and several prestigious central academic bodies and activities.