Saturday, October 31, 2009

No Time to Practice a Presentation?

My colleague Susan Daffron just posted a great article on her website, "Practice a Presentation Even When You Can't Practice," which outlines 5 ways to practice a presentation when you have no time to practice.

Susan is the president of Logical Expressions, Inc., a book and software publishing company in Sandpoint, Idaho. She recently had to present a workshop based on her book, Funds to the Rescue: 101 Fundraising Ideas for Humane and Animal Rescue Groups. She knew she needed to practice her presentation, but had no extra time to practice.

Here is an excerpt from Susan's article: "The end result of all this practice was that throughout the three days of the conference, I had many people tell me how much they liked my presentation. One person even asked if I do public speaking at conferences all over the country. I confessed that it was my first time speaking in front of more than a few people. (She suggested that maybe I have a new career!)

If an introvert like me can successfully speak in front of 250 people, so can you. The secret is practice!"

Read the rest of the article at

Gilda Bonanno's blog

Monday, October 26, 2009

Tips for "Going On Stage Relieved of This Dread"

Here is an email I received recently from a contact:

"Dear Gilda, HELP!!! I'm in a play this evening in my play-reading group (we act out in costumes while reading the scripts) and I realize I'm beginning to get nervous (30 in the audience). I get choked up or have to swallow. This is my bĂȘte noire. Any quick tips for going “on stage" relieved of this dread? Tonight? Thank you!!"

Here is part of my response:

"For tonight, I would recommend breathing deeply whenever you feel nervous…. And thinking positive thoughts (use your mantra) and reminding yourself why you are there (to have fun?). When you feel anxiety bubbling up, take a deep breath and either "swallow" down the fear or let it just wash over you without engaging it. Let it be, watch it go by, but don't "get in the mud" with it. And know that the more you speak in public, the easier it will get."

These quick tips can be helpful in dealing with your fear of public speaking, whether you are going on stage to perform a play reading, giving a toast at a wedding or presenting at a staff meeting.

Gilda Bonanno's blog

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Ice Cream & Your Career

Career Coach Nancy Collamer had a great blog post today, "Reinvention Strategy: Build a Better Sundae." I love anything related to ice cream and Nancy has connected ice cream variations to reinventing yourself and your career.

Here is an excerpt from Nancy's post:
"Finding your niche, customizing your service, and putting your own unique stamp on your work is a critical skill for anyone looking to build a lifestyle career. Don't look to be all things to all people. Think about ways you can sell your expertise in a way that hasn't been done before."

She also provides examples of enterprising moms who "took a basic concept and added their own unique twist to their services -- turning plain vanilla into a delicious new treat."

Gilda Bonanno's blog

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Happy Anniversary, Blog!

by Gilda Bonanno LLC

Today is the 1st anniversary of my blog! One year ago today, I dipped my toe into the ocean of social media and began writing my blog. In the past year, I've tried to provide interesting and informative content - I've enjoyed great conversations with you, my readers, and I've learned a lot from readers and fellow bloggers. Thank you all for your support and interest.

In honor of the anniversary, I am republishing my very first blog post, Think of Yourself as a Speaker.

Think of Yourself as a Speaker

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.

Gilda Bonanno's blog

Friday, October 16, 2009

Keith Ferrazzi and the Art of Elegance

I'm a huge fan of Keith Ferrazzi, the guru of business relationships and author of Never Eat Alone and most recently, Who's Got Your Back.

One of my favorite quotes from Who's Got Your Back is from Peter Guber, film producer and former head of Sony Pictures: "Elegance is the art of exerting the minimum amount of effort for the maximum effect, the maxiumum amount of power and achievement in our life." Peter challenged Keith to work smarter and allow other people to help him - and reminded him that frenetic activity is not enough to ensure success - his efforts had to be aligned with his goals.

It's an important message for all of us to remember, especially those of us who are business owners. Sometimes it feels like we have to do everything - and do it ourselves. Instead, we have to focus first on what's important to help us achieve our goals and reach out to others for advice and help.

I got a chance to meet Keith Ferrazzi when we both spoke at the National Speakers Association convention in Phoenix, AZ in July. He's the real deal - the same in person as he comes across in his books - smart, self-deprecating, genuine. Here's a photo of me with Keith after he graciously signed a copy of his latest book.

If you're not familiar with Keith and his work, check out his books and read his blog at And the next time you're feeling overwhelmed by all the tasks on your to-do list, practice the art of elegance! Take a breath, focus and reach out for help.

Gilda Bonanno's blog

Monday, October 12, 2009

Happy Birthday, Eleanor Roosevelt

"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." - Eleanor Roosevelt

October 11 would have been Former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt's 125th birthday.

"Eleanor Roosevelt, who was born Oct. 11, 1884, and died Nov. 7, 1962, was the first woman to be a radio commentator, speak in front of a national convention, write a syndicated column and earn money as a lecturer. She was also a strong advocate for the Fair Labor Standards Act enacted by Congress in 1938 and she led the United Nations commission that drafted the Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the General Assembly in 1948...."

For the full article about the birthday celebration held in her honor at the Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic site, visit

Gilda Bonanno's blog

Monday, October 5, 2009

Non-Verbal Communications Matter

by Gilda Bonanno LLC

When you meet someone or present to an audience, do your words match your non-verbal communications?

If there is a disconnect between verbal and non-verbal communications, your audience will believe your non-verbals. Studies show that much of our communication is non-verbal.

For example, imagine that a speaker shuffles to the podium, fumbling with his pen and folder. He stares down at his notes, frowns slightly and says in a lifeless monotone so soft that you can barely hear him, "I am excited to be here with you today. We are going to have a fun session together." Are you excited? Or are you running for the exit?

While his words may be correct, his non-verbal communications strongly contradict his verbal message. His voice, facial expression, body language and lack of eye contact broadcast a message of boredom and anxiety.

Non-verbal communications encompass many aspects, including:
*Voice: volume, tone, pausing, rate
*Body Language such as
*Eye Contact
*Facial Expression
*Movement and posture

When you communicate through writing, punctuation provides cues for the reader as to your meaning and emotion. When speaking, however, you have to use your voice and body language to provide the punctuation for the audience.

For related tips, see my previous post on Body Language - Gestures & Movement

Gilda's blog