Sunday, June 28, 2009

Declutter Your Presentation

by Gilda Bonanno

A cluttered home or office can overwhelm you and make it difficult for you to find anything. Likewise, a cluttered presentation can overwhelm your audience and make it difficult for them to find your message. Here's how to cut out the clutter in your presentation so your message is easy to find and understand:

1. Cut Out the Extra Material
Before you deliver a presentation, be clear about your message - the one thing that you want your audience to walk away with from your presentation. Look at every example, detail and story you'd like to include in your presentation and decide whether they relate directly to your message. Sort them into three groups: keep, not sure and throw out. Focus on the keepers, resort the "not sure" group and throw out the rest. You want to make it easy for your audience to find your message rather than forcing them to sift through all the clutter to uncover it.

2. Cut Out Your Filler Words
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. They are the verbal clutter that distract the audience and give the impression that you lack confidence or knowledge about your subject. Instead of using a filler word, pause silently and breathe, then move on to your next word.

3. Cut Out the Extra Text on Your Slides
If you have to use slides, cut out any extra words or graphics. Slides are not a substitute for you, the presenter, so they should only contain supporting material rather than a script of all your words. If your slides contain countless bullet points in tiny print and impossible-to-read charts, then you are forcing your audience to dig through all that clutter to get to the point. Whenever I see those types of slides and hear a presenter say, “I know you can’t read this," I want to shout back, "Then why are you showing it to us?!"

The next time you have to give a presentation, spend time decluttering it. A neat and organized presentation will allow you to focus on your message, which means it will be easier for the audience to follow and understand.

Gilda Bonanno's blog

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Non-Traditional Sales Strategies - Free Workshop in Stamford, CT

Non-Traditional Sales Strategies: Sell More In These Challenging Times!
Free Brown Bag Workshop - June 25, 2009 - Stamford, CT

This event is for you if you are:
-- 'in sales'
-- managing someone who is, or
-- the owner of a business that has at least one of the above

This event is for you if you answer "yes" to one of the following questions:
-- Are you or your people getting all the sales you'd like?
-- Is your sales cycle too long?
-- Do you or your people know what's really happening on a sales call?

Thursday, June 25, 2009
12:00 PM - 1:30 PM
People's United Bank
350 Bedford Street
Stamford, CT

Click here to learn more
Presented by: Gene D'Agostino, Vice President, Sandler Training, TEM Associates Inc.
Gene has over 30 years of experience in sales, sales management and sales training. He has been involved in the broadcast, cable, film and advertising industries. Sandler Training, TEM Associates, a training and consulting firm located in Stamford and Rocky Hill, CT, specializes in helping individuals and companies develop honest, no-nonsense, sales and sales management skills that get results and at the same time preserve the business professional's self-respect.

Gilda Bonanno's blog

A "Present" for New Graduates

by Gilda Bonanno LLC

In honor of all those graduating this month, here is a "present" that will help you with one of the most important skills you can develop in life - Presentation Skills.

Please, have a message when you speak.
Respect the audience by being relevant to their needs.
Encourage yourself to work through your fears.
Speaking is a skill that everyone can learn.
Everyone is unique, so be yourself.
Nurture your eye contact, body language and vocal variety.
The purpose of slides is to help you, not replace you.

Gilda Bonanno's blog

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

How Do You Handle a Mini-Crisis?

by Gilda Bonanno LLC

Recently I was staying at a hotel in New York for a few days because I was facilitating a program there for a client. On the first morning, I set up the training room so I would be ready to start at 8 am, then went to the hotel restaurant to get breakfast. The restaurant was supposed to open at 7 am, but at 7:15, the doors were still locked. Eventually, the restaurant hostess opened the doors and explained that the server hadn't shown up for work.

The hostess was clearly flustered and probably frustrated, but she adjusted quickly. She bustled from table to table, taking orders with a smile, apologizing for the delay and attacking the situation with an energy that was evident and reassuring. Even though the situation wasn't ideal, she made the best of it. She acknowledged the situation, did what she could to remedy it and communicated often to us about when our meals would be ready. As customers, we sympathized with her situation and appreciated her effort. And I still left her a big tip (and, yes, I did make it to the training room on time – barely).

The following day, there was a similar situation when only one server showed up at 7 am, instead of the two that had been scheduled for what was going to be a busier day. (Yes, this hotel clearly had some major issues around processes and customer service – let's just say that my client won't be returning there for future programs). This time, the one server was clearly overwhelmed – she was sullen, moved slowly from table to table and didn't smile. The situation was the same as the previous day, but this time, the server showed no energy and didn't really communicate with the customers about what was going on. As a result, the customers got frustrated and angry.

The next time you have a mini-crisis on your hands, choose how you will respond. Acknowledge the situation and do what you can to make it better. Even though you may not be able to control the situation, your response can make all the difference in whether your customers (or colleagues) end up sympathetic and appreciative, or frustrated and angry.

Gilda Bonanno's blog

Monday, June 22, 2009

Six Tips for Handling Questions

by Gilda Bonanno LLC

Often once you're finished delivering a presentation, the audience will ask questions. This question-and-answer time is still part of your presentation and you can prepare for it in the same way that you prepared for the rest of the presentation. Handled appropriately, questions give you a chance to clarify information you presented or discuss things that you didn't get a chance to mention.

Here are six tips to help you prepare for and answer questions with ease:

1) View questions as requests for information, not as adversarial challenges. Make it clear through your words and body language that you welcome questions.

2) Remember that you're still presenting – keep your energy up once you finish your formal presentation and start answering questions.

3) Prepare for questions by thinking, “what questions would I hate to have someone ask me?" and then have an answer for them.

4) Listen carefully to all questions and then restate them so everyone in the audience can hear and so you have a few minutes to think.

5) If you don't know the answer, don't bluff or guess. Instead, admit that you don't know and if it's important enough, say, "I don’t know but I’ll find out and get back to you.” Then do it.

6) If you get a hostile question, keep your answer brief, direct it to the entire audience and when you're done, move your eye contact away from that questioner.

Gilda Bonanno's blog

Thursday, June 18, 2009

What Not to Say to Your Manager's Manager

by Gilda Bonanno LLC

A manager recently shared the following story with me. He saw an employee in a social situation – an employee he hadn't seen in a while who reported to one of his direct reports. The employee told him, "Oh, you've put on weight." Yes, that's right, the employee told his manager's manager that he had put on weight!

What could he have been thinking? What could have been his reason for making that statement? I don't always like hard and fast rules, but I think we can be certain of this rule: unless you work for a dietician or a weight-loss clinic, never comment on someone's weight at work – especially if you think it's a weight gain and especially if it's your manager's manager.

Think before you speak. Practice small talk – things like "nice to see you," "can you believe the weather?" or "this pasta is delicious" are appropriate for those situations with management when you're not talking about a specific project or work-related topic. Better to be forgotten by your manager's manager or remembered as the employee who chatted about the weather - than remembered as the employee who insulted him.

Gilda Bonanno's blog