Thursday, October 23, 2008

Entrepreneurial Women in Afghanistan

This week, I attended a wonderful event at the Connecticut Women's Business Development Center. The WBDC hosted a woman from Afghanistan who was visiting the US to learn about the resources available for women entrepreneurs. She calmly told us how she fled Afghanistan in the early '90s and later returned to help empower women to start their own businesses. With quiet pride, she described some of the women in her group who had successfully started their own businesses - one opened a printing shop and another started a carpentry business, the only women running such businesses in the city.

Despite threats to her and her family, she is forging ahead to help women get the skills, resources and confidence they need to start businesses, help support their families and build a brighter, peaceful future.

I attended the event with other WBDC volunteers and clients, and we shared our own stories and the kind of support that we had received from the WBDC. She could not share her last name, for security reasons, but she assured us that she would take our ideas back home and share them with her group of women, who were eager to learn from their sisters in other parts of the world.

Her visit was sponsored by Business Council for Peace, which is a partner of UNIFEM, the United Nations Development Fund for Women.

What an inspiration she is - and a reminder of how difficult and dangerous life still is for so many women and men around the world....

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Free Teleseminar Oct 23: "Seven Things to Know to Present Like a Pro"

October 23, 2008, 2-3 PM EST US

You asked for it - you got it!

Get presentation skills coaching from the comfort of your office or home. During this telephone seminar, I will cover the seven essential things that you must know about presentation preparation and delivery, in order to communicate like a pro. Then I will answer your questions, which you may ask live on the call or submit via email ahead of time.

Perfect for business people, IT professionals, HR staff, project managers, consultants, students, business owners and anyone who wants to develop more effective presentation skills.

You only pay for the cost of your phone call. To register or find out more, email information will be provided once you register.

October 23, 2008, 2-3 PM EST US

Monday, October 20, 2008

Think of Yourself as a Speaker

by Gilda Bonanno
Often, people tell me, "I'm not a speaker so I don't have to think about presentation skills." I disagree. I think we are all speakers – yes, even you.

Whether you talk to a small or large audience or in a corporate, academic or community setting, you are a speaker. If you give an update to a project team, speak up at a neighborhood meeting or organize a fundraiser, you are a speaker. If you give a toast at a wedding, conduct orientation for new employees or train someone on a new process, you are a speaker. If you teach a class, lead a conference call or accept a community award, you are a speaker. If you answer a question at a meeting, attend a networking event or interact with potential clients, you are a speaker.

The point of thinking of yourself as a speaker is not to make you crazy. The point is for you to become conscious of your power to communicate. Public speaking is a skill – it's not magic or a special gene. And as a skill, it can be learned and improved. You already have knowledge and expertise; public speaking gives you the ability to communicate that knowledge and expertise effectively to others. And in so doing, you can have a positive impact on your career, your self-confidence and your community.

One of the first people that I coached was a man who had to give the toast at his brother's wedding. One of my most recent coaching clients was a woman who had to lead a teleseminar with a global audience for a major client. Both of these people are speakers, even though that is not their primary job description. They had something to share with other people and communicating effectively made a difference in their personal and business relationships.

Just by thinking of yourself as a speaker, you benefit from what I call the Focus Effect. Earlier in my career, I worked in process improvement and was often called in to analyze a business process that was inefficient, costly or time-consuming. I found that just by asking people who were involved in the process to focus on what they were doing and how, the process often improved because they were more conscious of their actions.

Likewise, when you think of yourself as a speaker, you begin to focus on what and how you communicate. And as you pay more attention to your communications, you become more conscious of what works well and more able to improve what doesn't.

The next time you have the opportunity to speak or present, think of yourself as a speaker. Doing so will help you eliminate the barriers to letting your voice be heard and make a positive contribution to your professional and personal success.
copyright 2008 Gilda Bonanno LLC