Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Gilda Selected to Present at National Speakers Association Annual Convention

I'm excited to announce that I have been selected to present at the National Speakers Association (NSA) Annual Convention - Influence 2015, the premier event for professional speaking, to be held in July in Washington, D.C. 

My concurrent session is: Using Improv Comedy Principles to Make Your Presentations Powerful and Engaging and scheduled for July 19, 2015, 4:30-5:30 pm. 

Using Improv Comedy Principles to Make Your Presentations Powerful and Engaging 
Improv comedy success is all about being present, trusting yourself and stepping out of your comfort zone.  In this interactive session from professional speaker and improv comedian Gilda Bonanno, you learn how to apply the principles of improv comedy to be fully present to your audience and make your presentations more compelling.    Have fun as you participate in improv exercises which will foster your creativity and teach you to trust yourself. This session is not about learning to be funny – though that is a happy byproduct! – it’s about stepping out of your comfort zone to revitalize your content and your delivery.

By attending this session, participants will:
1. Learn how to stay in the moment when presenting, to create a shared experience with your audience rather than being stuck in your head or delivering a canned speech
2. Boost your confidence to become more comfortable thinking on your feet and dealing with the unexpected
3. Learn 3 interactive exercises that you can use with your audience

To find out more about the Convention or to register, please visit

Founded in 1973, NSA is the leading organization for professional speakers.

Gilda Bonanno's blog 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Gilda's Presentations in the Top 25% Most-Viewed on Slideshare

I'm excited to learn that my slide presentations are in the Top 25% of Most-Viewed on SlideShare!

Click on the following links for my most popular presentations in the last 12 months:

How to Introduce Yourself Quickly

5 Quick Tips to Avoid Rambling When Presenting

Gilda Bonanno's blog

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Decoding Culture

Culture dictates all manner of behavior, including greetings, introductions, gifts, meals, exchange of business cards, eye contact, etc.

When traveling outside of the country, you need to be aware of the behavioral norms of the country you’re visiting so, for example, you know whether or not to offer your hand when meeting someone or to remove your shoes when entering a room.

Understanding culture also means that you don’t take it personally if someone doesn’t make eye contact or it they want to skip the pleasantries and just focus on the business discussion.  People show respect in the way they know how and are accustomed to.

As you seek to understand the culture, avoid stereotypes and overgeneralizations and instead look for patterns in behavior.  Ask your hosts for guidance or other people who are familiar with the customs of the country you’re visiting. 

Making the attempt to understand your host country’s culture will go a long way towards helping you connect with people around the world.

And when in doubt, follow the old adage, “when in Rome, do as the Romans do.” Of course, that assumes that you first understand what the Romans do!

And a word of caution to those of you conducting training or managing teams in other countries:

If you expect people’s behavior to be deliberately counter-cultural, then explain why it is important, give them time to adapt to the new behavior and be willing to make modifications. 

For example, when I was conducting training programs for a U.S.-based Fortune 200 company with global operations, senior company leaders often visited the class and conducted an informal question-and-answer session.

However, when I was teaching in Shanghai to participants from China, Korea, Japan and Thailand, asking questions publicly to a senior leader could be seen as challenging and even disrespectful.

Instead, the day before the leader (who happened to be American) visited, we explained to the class that he would expect questions and view them as making him a better leader.  We asked the participants to work in groups to list questions on flipcharts, with no names attached.  Then we consolidated the questions and came up with a short list to ask.  When he visited the next day, a pre-appointed spokesperson from each group asked the question.

This technique worked well, achieving the desired result for the leader and moving the participants slightly out of their comfort zone, without completely violating their cultural norms.

For another example from my experience conducting training in Asia, see my blog post: Feedback is a Gift -

Gilda Bonanno's blog

Friday, February 13, 2015

Performance Management at AIG - ASTD 2/23 Meeting

American Society for Training &; Development - Southern CT chapter meeting (ASTD-SCC)
Monday, February 23, 2015, 5:45-8:00 PM
Norwalk Inn and Conference Center, Norwalk, CT

A Story of Transformation: Performance Management at AIG
Long regarded as one of the world's leading insurers, AIG entered 2010 still stinging from the impact of the financial crisis, which included a government bailout and significant downsizing. Over the next four years the business re-paid the government with interest, turned a profit, restored its reputation and re-launched its brand. The success of these initiatives was greatly dependent on the support and partnership of HR to business leaders in restructuring the organization and evolving the company's performance management practices. 

We are fortunate to welcome Kimberly Bates McCarl, Global Head of Performance Management for AIG. Kimberly will describe AIG's journey and share an assessment tool in which the results are being used to help determine priorities and next steps for 2016 and beyond. 

Join us for an enlightening evening to:

* Understand the steps in AIG's performance management transformation process to date
* Learn about the importance of building sponsorship at the "C" level
* Recognize the link between Performance Management and Talent Development
* Hear about next steps in Performance Management at AIG

Speaker:  Kimberly Bates-McCarl, Global Head of Performance Management, AIG
Kimberly Bates McCarl is Global Head of Performance Management for AIG, a company of approximately 64,000 global employees and $68.7 B in 2013 revenue. Kimberly works closely with Business, Function and HR leaders, and leads the performance management steering group comprised of senior leaders. She also serves on the faculty of AIG's Leading Leaders program. 

She was formerly of Thomson Reuters in Talent Management positions, and Kimberly was former President of our ATD SCC chapter. She holds a degree in political science from Clemson University and is a member of i4cp's Performance Management Exchange. Kimberly and her family live in Milford, CT. 

If you cannot attend the meeting in person, we will provide a link that will let you view a webcast, live from the meeting at the Norwalk Inn! Discover Video will do the webcast and archive a copy. Check back later for the link to view the presentation.

Monday, February 23, 2015
Norwalk Inn and Conference Center
99 East Avenue, Norwalk CT

Chapter Member (pre-registered) - $37.00
Chapter Member In-Transition - $25.00
Guest - $50.00
Student - $20.00

Networking: 5:45 PM
Dinner Served: 6:30 PM
Program: 6:45-8 PM

For more information or to register, visit

Friday, January 30, 2015

Murphy's Law of Presenting With Technology

Murphy’s Law states that whatever can go wrong, will.  And when you’re giving a presentation using any kind of technology, from a projector to a phone, Murphy’s Law definitely applies.  I’ve seen or experienced all of these examples, and while some can be prevented or prepared for, they are all nerve-wracking when they occur!

1.    If you are hosting a conference call on your cell phone, the call will drop at the most crucial moment of the discussion.

2.    The battery on your lavaliere microphone will die out slowly, causing your voice to break in and out - before finally quitting completely at the high point of your presentation (and just as the A/V tech has left the room).

3.    The battery on your PowerPoint remote control will suddenly go haywire, causing your presentation to jump forward and back like it’s possessed.

4.    The wireless network in your meeting room will kick you off during a live presentation, moments after you’ve been ensured that the network is stable and there will be no problem accessing it live during your presentation.

5.    In the middle of your slide presentation, your laptop will begin downloading automatic updates and then shut down and restart slowly to fully install those updates. 

6.    The webinar software you’re using will stop working for no reason at all, but only once everyone has joined the webinar and only if your most important client or partner is participating.

7.    If you are using a wired headset to connect to a conference call, the wire will inexplicably stop working (perhaps due to yanking it one too many times, when you forgot you were tethered) and it will take you 6 minutes to realize that people can’t hear you.

8.    The mute button will malfunction on the speaker phone that you’re using for your conference call, which you’ll only realize after you’ve made a negative comment about someone on the call.

9.    The microphone will emit eardrum-piercing feedback in the first few seconds of your presentation, even after you’re done a sound check.

10. The bulb on the slide projector will blow out during your slide presentation - and there will be no replacement bulb within a 4 mile radius.

What examples have you seen or experienced of Murphy’s Law of Presenting With Technology?