Friday, May 29, 2009

Choose Million-Dollar Words

by Gilda Bonanno LLC

When you're preparing and practicing a presentation, your word choice matters. If your words are weak or unclear, they can interfere with your ability to communicate your message effectively to your audience. To be an effective presenter, you should choose what I call "million-dollar words" - strong, evocative, precise and sensible words.

Choose strong words. Your words should convey your confidence and convince the audience to believe your message. Avoid using "weasel" words like "hopefully" and "sort of." If you're unsure, say so directly, but don't let those weasel words creep into an otherwise certain statement. This tip also applies to networking situations or when you introduce yourself. I've actually heard people introduce themselves using weasel words, such as "I'm Joe Smith and I kinda work in IT and sorta am responsible for disaster recovery." That introduction does not convey confidence.

Choose evocative words. "She felt drained and collapsed into the chair." Can you see the image that those words convey? What if speaker said instead, "she was tired and sat down in the chair"? While that sentence is grammatically correct, it does not paint the picture as strongly as the first sentence.

Choose precise words. American author Mark Twain said it best: "The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter--it's the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning."

Choose sensible words - words that make sense to your audience. Be careful not to overuse jargon or buzzwords like "leveraging our assets" or "touching base." Don't use a long word when a shorter one will do. Choose "explain" or "clarify" instead of "elucidate," for example. Using words that make sense to your audience will enable you to communicate your message clearly and effectively.

The next time you prepare and practice a presentation, spend a few minutes and focus on your word choice. Cut out any distracting or ambiguous words that cloud your meaning and replace them with million-dollar words - strong, evocative, precise and sensible. You'll be amazed at how much more effective your presentation will be.

Gilda Bonanno's blog

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The LayOff Survival Guide

by Gilda Bonanno LLC

Are you about to lose your job? Have you already lost your job?

Then check out The Layoff Survival Guide by career coach Nancy Collamer. This downloadable guide has more than 90 pages of resources, strategies and tips that will help you survive being laid off with less stress, greater confidence and more success.

Nancy Collamer is the career coach that I chose to work with when I left my corporate job to start my own business. She wrote the guide as a result of her husband being laid off from his IT job. The content includes what to do in the first 72 hours after being laid off, where to look for job postings and how to handle your emotional and financial concerns while you're unemployed.

Visit her site ( to sample some of the content and purchase the instantly downloadable guide for $17.95.

Fortune Magazine called it "an incredibly useful resource." Whether you think you are about to be laid off or you have already received your "pink slip," this guide will help you get back on your feet.

Gilda Bonanno's blog

Friday, May 22, 2009

Cut Out Your Filler Words

by Gilda Bonanno LLC

Filler words include "um," "ah," and words such as "like," "so," and "ok," which are used as a verbal bridge to the next word.

These words just fill in space while you remember or think of something to say next. Rather than being effective bridges, they are roadblocks, distracting the audience and interrupting the flow of your message. These filler words weaken your presentation and give the impression that you don't know what you're talking about. Starting every other sentence with fillers (for example, "you know" or "like I said") can also be interpreted as verbal expressions of your anxiety or lack of confidence.

The good news is that you can learn to eliminate filler words. And like with so many bad habits, the first step towards change is to become aware that you're using them.

How can you become conscious of the filler words you use? Listen to yourself as you speak, record yourself or ask someone in the audience. Or attend a Toastmasters meeting (an international organization dedicated to helping people improve their public speaking, where there is an official Um and Ah Counter. He or she tallies up all the filler words used by the speakers and then reports on it at the end of the meeting. The point is to hear yourself using them so you can cut them out.

Once you have become aware of when you use fillers, here's how to eliminate them:

  • Stop speaking when you hear yourself using a filler word.
  • SILENTLY pause instead of filling the space with words.
  • Breathe.
  • Move on to your next word.

Here's an exercise that you can use to practice this:

  • Speak for 1-2 minutes about something you know, like your job or what you did today.
  • Every time you hear yourself using a filler word, STOP, breathe and repeat that sentence – eventually, with more practice, you will get through the entire 2 minutes without using any filler words!

Cutting out your filler words will help you convey your message to the audience without any distractions getting in the way. And you'll sound more polished and professional.

Gilda Bonanno's blog

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Where Do I Go From Here?

by Gilda Bonanno LLC

Where to Go From Here - Reinventing Your Career... Your Business... Your Working Life, by my colleague and friend, Douglas Campbell III (aka "The Success Coach").

Doug has written a concise, practical book that will help you figure out what's important to you and what steps you can take to continue to grow professionally. The book is about taking action on that inner impulse - "there's something important I should be paying attention to, something that's just not working for me in my professional life."

What I like about it are the self-assessments and practical exercises that help you identify important things like your work values, your work persona, your risk profile and your personal history. He also weaves in relevant stories from his years of experience as an executive coach with top performers and top companies.

And I love his description of the Honest Broker role, someone who will help you set action steps and hold you accountable (could be a professional coach, but also could be a trusted mentor or former colleague).

This book will help you reflect and and then do something to reinvent yourself, your company and your working life.

I like the book so much that I just bought 10 copies to share with clients and colleagues! You can read more about it on Doug's website or buy it on Amazon.

Gilda's blog