Friday, December 31, 2010

Gilda's Photos from Shanghai, China

Here are photos from my third trip to Shanghai, China, in December 2010, where I facilitated training programs for a global client with a large presence in Asia. 
Outside a camera shop on Taikang Road in Old Shanghai
The NBA is popular in China - LeBron James is a global icon

A view of Nanjing Road, Shanghai's famous shopping district

A view of Pudong from the Bund
on an unseasonably sunny and warm day

The famous Pudong Skyline

Celebrating my birthday with tiramisu at a
wonderful Italian restaurant in the Puxi region of Shanghai!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Gilda to Keynote SNEC-PMI Project Management Conference

I am honored that I have been selected as the Keynote Speaker for the Southern New England Chapter of the Project Management Institute (SNEC-PMI) Conference in Hartford, CT on Friday, April 29, 2011. 

I have spoken at this conference for the past several years and it's a wonderful opportunity for attendees to learn new skills, earn PDUs and network with over 500 professionals and industry leaders.

Gilda's Keynote: "How Will You Spend Your 28,000 Days?"
Don't wait for a life-changing crisis to create the life and career that fulfills you most. In this motivating session, illustrated by Gilda's experience of being near the path of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, you'll gain a vivid understanding of the importance of priorities in life and work.

• Being challenged to consider how you choose to spend your time
• Understanding how to boldly break out of your comfort zone
• Avoiding career burnout by recommitting to your career or making a change
• Focusing on important priorities in life and work

After this talk, you won't want to spend another thousand of your estimated 28,000 lifespan days complaining and making others around you miserable - and you'll be on your way to making important changes happen so you can live a more inspired life.

SNEC-PMI Conference
Friday, April 29, 2011
Connecticut Convention Center
100 Columbus Ave., Hartford, CT

For more info, visit and click on "Conference"

Gilda Bonanno's blog

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Power of Giving - from Suzanne Bates

For a wonderful (and true) holiday story about the power of giving... check out this blog post, A Christmas Wreath, by communications expert Suzanne Bates on The Power Speaker Blog.

Gilda Bonanno's blog

Friday, December 17, 2010

Take Action to Improve Your Presentation Skills

by Gilda Bonanno LLC

For two weeks in October, I drove around with a chest of drawers in the trunk of my car.

I was supposed to bring it to the recycling center in my town since I no longer had use for it. It took up most of my trunk space and every time I braked or made a sharp turn, the drawers flew open and then slammed shut. When I heard that sound or looked in the rearview mirror and saw the drawers slide back and forth, I thought, "I really should do something about that."

There were many solutions. The most obvious solution was just to drive to the recycling center and get rid of them. But I found excuses not to, like "I don't have enough time," "it's raining," or "the recycling center is closed."

I even could have tried a temporary fix like taking the drawers out and keeping them separate so they wouldn't keep opening and closing or turning the drawers face down so they couldn't open. But I said, "I guess it's not that bad – I can ignore it…" or "it's not that important right now – I'll get it done eventually…."

So I did nothing. The pain of inaction was less than the pain of action; in other words, it was easier for me to do nothing than to do something. It was easier for me to ignore the issue, pretend it wasn't there or listen to the sound and complain, than to actually find the time when the recycling center was open, drive there, unload it and be done.

This principle also applies to improving your presentation skills. Many executives, business professionals and entrepreneurs are not comfortable presenting in public and refuse to do it. Or if they must do it, they are very anxious about it, are confused about how to prepare and have a less-than-successful experience, which merely confirms their anxieties and dislike of public speaking.

Like the slamming of the drawers in the trunk of my car, the painful experience causes them to think, "I should do something about this – I should take care of it..." And there are many solutions; they could practice more, join Toastmasters ( or hire a coach. But they find excuses, such as no time, no money, it's raining… And they do nothing because the pain of inaction is less than the pain of action.

Then, suddenly, the dynamic shifts. Maybe a boss has made it clear that they will not get the next promotion unless they're comfortable presenting or maybe business is dwindling because they are unable to present to new clients. Whatever the trigger, that nagging feeling finally becomes too overwhelming to ignore and then they do something about it. Often, they call me and we start working together, because suddenly, doing nothing has become the worst option. The pain of doing nothing has finally become greater than the pain of doing something.

I eventually took the drawers to the recycling center – after 2 weeks of driving around with the painful reminder, the pain of inaction became too great. Driving away from the recycling center, I had the feeling of a weight being lifted from my shoulders and I savored the blissful silence when I made a sharp turn…

So what about you? What will it take for you to take action to improve your presentation skills? When will the pain of doing nothing finally become too great?

When you are ready to take action, call me. And if you’d like to take a small and painless action step, visit to sign up for my free twice-monthly newsletter with tips to improve your presentation skills.

Gilda Bonanno's blog

Monday, December 13, 2010

What Do You Tell Yourself About How You Present?

by Gilda Bonanno LLC

What you tell yourself about how you present is important.

In fact, it's as important as how you actually present.

Why? Because what you tell yourself about how you present will affect how you actually present. In other words, your thoughts and beliefs shape how you act.

If you tell yourself, "I'm a lousy presenter" or "I suck at public speaking," (these are real statements from my presentation skills coaching clients), it will be difficult for you to overcome that negativity and do what's needed to deliver an effective presentation.

If you think that the end result will be poor anyway, it will be hard for you to dedicate the time, energy and effort needed to become an effective presenter.

For example, if you practice giving a presentation and accidentally stumble over your words, forget what you wanted to say or get stuck repeating "um" too often, you will be tempted to say, "oh well, I'll never be good at this anyway" and stop practicing… which, in turn, will mean that your presentation will not be as effective as it could be.

Follow these 3 steps to break the cycle of negativity:

1. Listen to your thoughts and words to become aware of what you are telling yourself about how you present.

2. Change what you tell yourself. I'm not suggesting that you tell yourself, "I'm the best presenter in the whole wide world" – you will be lying to yourself and that won't help you become successful. Instead, find the middle point between lying to yourself and berating yourself – a positive statement that recognizes your potential, such as "I'm working on developing my presentation skills" or "I'm getting better at public speaking" or "I'm capable of being a competent and effective presenter."

3. Believe the positive statement that you tell yourself about how you present – and then actually go out and work on preparing and practicing so you can become a more effective presenter.

Gilda Bonanno's blog

Thursday, December 9, 2010

4 Reasons Not to Start Your Presentation With a Joke

by Gilda Bonanno LLC

In my presentation skills training programs, people often ask me, "Should I start my presentation with a joke?" My immediate response is "No!"

Now I'm a fan of humor as much as anyone – and in fact, probably more than most people, since I've been performing onstage with an improv comedy group for the last 6 years and I've incorporated improv comedy rules and ideas into my communication skills/leadership training programs.

(Improv does not involve telling memorized jokes, however, but instead requires you to be in the moment and spontaneously respond to audience suggestions and whatever your fellow performers on stage have offered. Applied to speaking, improv helps you connect with the audience, remain fully in the moment and trust that you've prepared enough to handle the unexpected – from a technical glitch to an unanticipated question to a fire alarm.)

So here are 4 reasons why I don't recommend starting a presentation by telling a memorized joke:

1. A joke is difficult to get right.
Great jokes are all about timing and delivery. Expert comedians like Jerry Seinfeld work for hours to perfect a joke and decide which words to use, where to put the emphasis and how long to pause before delivering the punch line. Telling a joke right is a lot of pressure to put on yourself at the start of the speech, especially when you already are feeling nervous.

If you're a stand-up comedian performing for 15 minutes, you can afford to flub a few jokes. However, if you're giving a presentation and the joke is your opening, it's hard to recover from a joke gone wrong and from that awkward silence during which the audience wonders if they're supposed to laugh.

Speaking is not about perfection – it's about communication – and perfection is unrealistic and unnecessary. But jokes require you to be near-perfect, especially if it's your opening line and your only joke.

2. They've heard it before.
Unless you have your own personal joke writer (and if you'd like to hire someone to write funny lines for you, I recommend speakers/comedians/humorists David Glickman and Ron Culberson, you probably get your jokes from the Internet. And if it's a funny joke, that probably means that someone in your audience has read it in their email inbox. And if the joke is specific to a particular industry, the chance is even greater that many people have read it or heard it before.

A key element of humor is the element of surprise, whether it's an unexpected juxtaposition of words or events, a twist in the ending of the story or an unanticipated punchline. If people in the audience have heard the joke before, you lose the power of surprise. And telling a stale joke could brand you as "same old, same old" rather than as a unique individual with a fresh perspective on the topic.

3. You will offend someone.
While you probably wouldn't start your presentation with "a rabbi, a minister and a priest walk into a bar…" because of its obvious inappropriateness for most audiences, there are few jokes and types of humor that are universally inoffensive. Especially given the cultural, religious and ethnic diversity of our audiences, it's difficult to imagine a clean, funny and appropriate joke that is a safe bet for every audience.

And there's no real way to know if people are offended by your joke, unless they tell you. Just because people laugh doesn't mean they are not offended or hurt by the joke – sometimes, they give in to the social pressure to laugh, while inwardly feeling upset and even angry.

Beginning your presentation by alienating people in the audience will not help you communicate effectively.

4. Even if you get it right AND they haven't heard it before AND it doesn't offend anyone, it might be irrelevant.
Even if all else goes well, your joke might be viewed by the audience as irrelevant. They may laugh, but be unsure why you told it and how it relates to your message. Even if you think it's obviously and directly relevant to your presentation, they still might be confused about its purpose. And it's never a good idea to start off by confusing the audience.

So the next time you have to give a presentation, remember these 4 concerns. And unless, you can successfully address all of them, resist the urge to start with a joke you found online and you'll have a better chance of being effective.

For more on how to start a presentation, check out my 11/20 blog post - 6 Tips for Introducing Yourself at the Start of Your Presentation

Gilda Bonanno's blog

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Brian Tracy: "You Can Do It!"

by Gilda Bonanno LLC

Gilda Bonanno & Brian Tracy
I was excited to meet the legendary Brian Tracy recently, one of America's leading authorities on the development of human potential and personal effectiveness and author of 13 books.  Brian is on the Board of Directors for the National Speakers Association (NSA) and because I'm president-elect of the Connecticut chapter of NSA, I had a chance to meet him when I attended an NSA leadership training.

He spoke very briefly to our group, but his words were very impactful: "you can do it." He recommended that we tell ourselves, our chapter members, our colleagues who are aspiring speakers and our children: "you can do it.

Brian believes that telling people "you can do it" will help them feel more powerful and confident - and reverberate through their lives.

He developed this mindset because he grew up with such negativity that he resolved to try the opposite approach with his children. So he consistently told his children, "you can do it," and they have grown up to believe they are truly capable of anything.

I have long been a fan of Brian's work and I appreciated his words. They are a great reminder of the power of belief and how four words can kickstart motivation and build the self-confidence that will allow people to get started on the right path.

I say "you can do it" to my presentation skills coaching clients and in my leadership training classes. The message encourages people and helps them believe that they are capable of moving forward and doing the work necessary to make progress towards their goal.

You have to say "you can do it" to yourself and believe it. That positive mantra can drown out the negative voice in your head that tells you that you will fail and that you're not good enough (which I've named the "Joy-Sucker" voice because it sucks the joy out of work and life). 

Tell yourself "you can do it" and then move forward.  It works for Brian Tracy… it will work for you, too.

One of my favorite Brian Tracy books is Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time (affiliate link)

And thanks to NSA-New Jersey president-elect Tommy Hilcken for taking the photo with his camera!

Gilda Bonanno's blog

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Jane Pollak on the Fear of Public Speaking

by Gilda Bonanno LLC

I enjoy reading colleague Jane Pollak's blog.  She is a coach, speaker and author whose wonderful tagline is "leading remarkable women to uncommon success." 

Check out Jane's recent post, She Overcame Her Fear of Public Speaking, for the story of one of her colleagues, Susan Beallor-Snyder, who had to deliver a eulogy in front of 100 family and friends at a memorial for her father.  Since Susan did not have much experience speaking in public, she was very nervous.  Read the post for details about how Susan prepared and practiced so she could deliver an authentic presentation at a difficult time. 

And check out Jane's newly updated book, Soul Proprietor: 101 Lessons from a Lifestyle Entrepreneur (affiliate link) for practical advice on business, marketing and goal setting, including how to pursue your entrepreneurial dream during an economic downturn.

Gilda Bonanno's blog

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Alan Fine to Present "InsideOut Coaching" in Norwalk, CT Dec. 6

Alan Fine, Author of You Already Know How To Be Great, will present for the Southern CT chapter of the American Society for Training & Development (ASTD-SCC) on December 6 in Norwalk, CT:

InsideOut Coaching: Unlocking the Core Drivers to Consistent Breakthrough Performance
Alan Fine will explore the notion that breakthrough performance comes most often, not from acquiring additional knowledge, but from removing internal interference that allows people to act on what they already know. Alan will also introduce the GROW Model; a coaching process which enables leaders to tap into the knowledge and skills that already exist within their performers to improve individual, team and organizational performance.

At the session, Alan will cover how to:
•Identify four critical factors that lead to high-performance.
•Eliminate interference that gets in the way of results.
•Explore a process for unlocking an individual’s potential and breakthrough performance.

Sissy McKee, Associate Director of Learning and Development at Boehringer Ingelheim will join Alan to share how InsideOut Coaching's tools and processes have benefited Boehringer Ingelheim's employee performances.

5:45 – 6:30 pm Networking & Dinner
6:15 pm Welcome
6:30 - 8:15 pm Program
Location: Norwalk Inn and Conference Center

Price: $35 Chapter members/$50 Non-chapter members and walk-ins/Students $20

Reservation Deadline: 12/3/2010
For more info or to register, visit

"If knowledge were all it took, we’d all be incredible managers, teachers, parents and performers. But obviously we’re not. The biggest obstacle in performance isn’t not knowing what to do; it’s not doing what we know.” - Alan Fine (see affiliate link to Alan's book)

About Alan Fine
Alan is the president of InsideOut Development, which offers training programs, executive coaching and organizational consulting. His unique approach to performance improvement has been adopted by some of the world’s most respected organizations, including IBM, NASA, Honeywell, Procter & Gamble, Gap, and Coca-Cola. In addition to being a popular trainer and speaker, Alan is also the bestselling author (NY Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal) of the recently released book, You Already Know How To Be Great. Alan is the co-author of the GROW model and has spent most of his career as a performance coach to top professional tennis players and golfers, musicians, and corporate executives worldwide.

Gilda Bonanno's blog

Friday, November 26, 2010

Suzanne Bates on Award Acceptance Speeches

Check out the following blog post, "You Like Me, Right Now, You Like Me," by Suzanne Bates, communications expert and author of Speak Like a CEO.

She outlines a winning formula for giving an acceptance speech when receiving an award.  As a former TV anchor, she often had to emcee awards banquets and she shares some horror stories about speakers who went over their time limit:

"More often than I care to remember I had to move toward the podium, and give a loquacious recipient a less than subtle nod. My next intervention would be the hairy eyeball. When all else failed, more desperate measures were required. Once I actually walked up to a woman who had gone 20 minutes on a five minute speech and touched her on the elbow. She kept going. I interrupted and apologized that it was a great story but we were over time. She ignored me and went five more minutes. I kid you not. You cannot make this stuff up."

Read the rest of her post at

And for more on this topic, check out "Patricia Fripp on Award Acceptance Speeches"

Gilda Bonanno's blog

Saturday, November 20, 2010

6 Tips for Introducing Yourself at the Start of Your Presentation

by Gilda Bonanno LLC

In a presentation skills program a few weeks ago, someone asked me, "Gilda, how do I introduce myself at the start of my presentation to warm up the audience and establish credibility?" Contrary to what you might think, the answers do not include a lengthy recital of all your achievements or a five-minute soliloquy on why you were chosen to present.

Here are 6 tips for introducing yourself at the start of your presentation, so you engage the audience and establish your credibility:

1. Have a Short Introduction
If you're speaking at an event or a conference, usually someone introduces you using whatever written material you've provided them. Use an introduction that is short (just a few sentences) rather than one that catalogues all the wonderful things you've accomplished since the 6th grade. While it's important to establish your credibility, having a laundry list of your every credential, client and project will bore the audience before you even start speaking.

2. Include Only Relevant Details in Your Intro
Your introduction is not the same as your biography, but rather it includes only the specific information from your bio that is relevant for this audience. For example, when I speak to project managers, my introduction includes my credential as a Project Management Practitioner (PMP); however, I omit it when I speak to small business owners since it is not relevant and instead, include the fact that I run my own business.

3. Include the Extra Details in the Invite or Handout
It's okay to include extra details about yourself in the meeting invitation or in the handout, as long as they are relevant to the group or particularly interesting. Then it's the audience's choice if they want to read it and you don't force them to sit through it before you begin.

4. Jump Right Into Your Content
Don't waste the precious few seconds that you have to capture the audience's attention by talking about yourself. You establish your credibility by being master of your content  - so jump right into it with a startling statistic, an interesting fact or a relevant story. Then provide an overview of your presentation and begin your first point. If you feel compelled to talk about yourself, then 1 or 2 short and well-delivered sentences will suffice; be sure to practice saying them so you don't have a lot of "ums" and "ahs." 

5. Reveal More During the Presentation
It's best to start off directly with your topic and then reveal information about yourself as an organic part of the presentation. For example, you could say "last week when I was working with [insert famous person or company name here]…" or "when we showed the new product to a group of engineers last month, they were very happy with it."

6. Limit the Thank-Yous
While it's fine to start out by thanking your hosts and affirming how excited you are to be presenting for this audience, make sure this is not long and drawn out. This is not the time to thank everyone in the room by name – just give the highlights and quickly move into your content. Incorporate the extra thank-yous into your presentation or save them for later. 

If you follow these 6 tips for introducing yourself at the beginning of your presentation, you'll be off to a good start - and more likely to engage the audience and establish your credibility.

Gilda Bonanno's blog

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Women Making a Difference in Afghanistan

by Gilda Bonanno

A few weeks ago, I met a businesswoman who provides training and support to companies in topics ranging from accounting to leadership. That's not unusual - except that she is from Afghanistan and that is where she lives and works.

Her visit to the U.S. was arranged by Business Council for Peace, which is a partner of UNIFEM, the United Nations Development Fund for Women. She was here to learn how to be more effective at marketing and running a business.  Then she would take that knowledge back home to Afghanistan and share it with the colleagues at her company.

We had a great conversation, which touched on everything from politics to entrepreneurship to family life.

She is the first woman in her extended family to work outside the home and some of her relatives were skeptical and resistant. But she persisted, with the support and understanding of her husband and her father.

As she describes it, working outside the home allowed her to broaden her thinking and contribute to the family economy, enabling her and her husband to buy land and build a home. She obviously set a positive example, because now a few years later, more than 20 women in her extended family work outside the home. And her young son considers it "normal" to have a mother who works.

When she moved to the new neighborhood where they were building a home, the neighbors began to notice that she left in the morning to go to work and did not return until evening. So one day after prayers at the mosque, she gathered all the neighborhood women, introduced herself and explained her business. She gave out business cards and answered questions about what it was like to work and how her company could help them.

It's an inspiring example of how educating and empowering one person can have a positive ripple effect throughout an entire community. I wish her and her colleagues success – and safety - in their business endeavors and in life.

For a related post, see my October 23, 2008 Entrepreneurial Women in Afghanistan
Gilda Bonanno's blog

Friday, November 12, 2010

Boardroom Inc. President Marjory Abrams & "Obbligato" Images

by Gilda Bonanno LLC

Last week, I had the privilege of meeting Marjory Abrams, President of Boardroom, Inc., publisher of popular newsletters such as Bottom Line/Personal, Bottom Line/Health and Bottom Line/Wealth(

She shared an interesting lesson - a word learned from her father, Boardroom's founder, Marty Edelston: "obbligato." It's a musical term referring to musical lines, which in Margie's words, "dance around the main melody and enhance it."

As part of her lifelong career in publishing, Margie uses "obbligato" to describe the power of images in written stories. And I think her description also can apply to the power of images in presentations.

The next time you have to give a PowerPoint presentation, try to use images and pictures that add to the story of your presentation, rather than detracting from it or even just duplicating your words. You can use high-quality photos that you've taken yourself or you can find them online – I like – instead of slides with too many words crammed onto them.

The images should be a "persistent but subordinate motif" (another technical definition of "obbligato"), meaning that although they are important, they should never replace you. Remember, that YOU are the presentation and PowerPoint is just the visual aid.

How much more effective could our business communications be if our slides included images that danced around the main message and made it easier for the audience to understand it?

Read Margie's blog posts at

Gilda Bonanno's blog

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

NewAlliance CEO Peyton Patterson & Public Speaking Skills

by Gilda Bonanno LLC

Recently, I heard Peyton Patterson, CEO of NewAlliance Bank, speak at an event for the Women's Business Development Council (  WBDC is an organization devoted to entrepreneurial training, financial literacy and professional development for women and men throughout Connecticut  (and I volunteer for them as an instructor in public speaking and networking skills). 

At the WBDC event, News Channel 12 anchor Rebecca Surran ( interviewed Peyton, who suggested that potential entrepreneurs first ask themselves "is there a need in the marketplace?" and then partner with organizations like WBDC and local banks to further develop the idea. According to Peyton, "you should be able to say 'I like me and I have something to contribute and I have a well-vetted plan.'"

In a 2008 article in the New York Times, Peyton mentioned how she was inspired by her mom, a single mother who worked at the State Department, and the importance she placed on public speaking skills: "When I was 16, my mother said the biggest thing that had helped her in life was when her mother and father asked her to take a public speaking class. So she enrolled me in one, and I found myself getting up in front of people and talking on all kinds of topics. That gave me the underpinnings of liking and feeling comfortable with communication and influencing people." (for the full article, see  "The Boss - Inspired by Mom," New York Times, November 21, 2008)

Peyton's public speaking training has proved valuable in her career, as she has communicated with shareholders, stakeholders, employees, regulatory authorities and the media. 

And her mother's insistence on public speaking classes is rare – most of us don't receive public speaking training when we're young.  It's never too late to take training for the first time or to refresh your skills. Public Speaking is a skill, which means that it can be practiced and learned.

If you're interested in individual coaching in public speaking, contact me  And don't worry about location – I'm now offering coaching via Skype for those outside of my local region.

(And if you're dreaming about starting your own business, conctact the WBDC in Connecticut or in your state.)

Gilda Bonanno's blog

Friday, November 5, 2010

Give a Better Elevator Speech - Brian Walter at NSA-CT

Networking is an important part of your success in business. If you'd like to learn how to give a better elevator speech, sign up now for Brian Walter's session, Verbal Ping Pong: How to Give an Elevator Speech So People Actually Want You to Keep Talking.

Brian is presenting this session for the CT chapter of the National Speakers Association (NSA-CT) on Monday, November 15, 2010, 3-5 pm, in Shelton, CT. Guests are welcome to attend - see below for more details.

I've seen Brian speak and he is informative and funny! And as President-elect of the NSA-CT chapter, I look forward to welcoming you to the session.

And for more great content, you can also sign up for Brian's 6 pm session - Extreme Platform, Sales and Research Techniques You Can Use Right Away For Impact & Cha-Ching.

Verbal Ping Pong: How to Give an Elevator Speech So People Actually Want You to Keep Talking

Brian Walter
"What do you do?" Every week, you and every other speaker, consultant, coach and trainer are repeatedly asked "the question"...the single most opportunity-laden and awkward open-ended question you ever receive in your professional life: "What do you do?"

Are you interesting? What comes out of your mouth next will determine if you'll be perceived as an interesting expert worthy of follow-up or referral ("Hey, give me your card")...or as one step above a rabid Amway salesperson ("Oh...look at the time, gotta go").

In Brian Walter's Verbal Ping Pong program and insta-coaching session you'll discover a new way to describe what you do in a powerful way. His powerful three-part formula will show you how to make your elevator speech compelling, memorable and truly conversational. You'll soon be so prepared that you'll never stress about how to answer the question again. Don't miss this chance to experience Brian doing a program that has already been featured at two NSA Conventions. (Oh, and he's reaaaally funny!)

Fee: $25 Guests ($15 Members/Associates)

Monday, November 15, 2010, 3-5 PM
Hilton Garden Inn
25 Old Stratford Road
Shelton, CT 06484

To register, please visit the NSA-CT website

And for more great content, Brian will also be presenting Extreme Platform, Sales and Research Techniques You Can Use Right Away For Impact & Cha-Ching at 6 PM at the NSA-CT chapter meeting (separate registration required). The content of these 2 sessions will be completely different, so you can sign up for both!

Brian is a unique blend of internal and external communication expertise. Over a 25+ year career, he's been an advertising director, marketing & sales director, radio & TV commercial producer, copywriter, communications manager, presentation coach, video producer, management trainer, consultant and professional speaker. He's even a Guinness Book of World Records holder for producing the world's shortest TV commercial. Brian has earned the elite Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), and is a member of Meeting Professionals International.

Brian's business is called Extreme Meetings. He provides customized infotainment to make meetings memorable. Brian has presented to audiences ranging from 7 to 7,000. His clients have included Starbucks, Microsoft, Costco, Pepsico, AAA, Payless, Verizon Wireless, several banks that are no longer in existence, the Social Security Administration, a regional office of the IRS...and a dairy company best known for awesome chocolate milk.

Gilda Bonanno's blog

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Exercise Your Right to Vote

by Gilda Bonanno LLC

The exercise of the right to vote is a hallmark of a democracy. The fact that we can go to the polls and pull the lever or fill in the circle (or whatever the voting technology requires) without being threatened, attacked or targeted, means that democracy is working.

Yes, the democratic process may be messy and loud at times, and the debates heated and the ads too negative… but we can still exercise our right to vote without fear of losing our jobs or having our families targeted.

It was not that long ago in our national history that pioneers like Fanny Lou Hamer (and countless, nameless others) were brutally beaten just for registering African-Americans to vote in the 1960s.

And it was only in our grandmothers' lifetimes that women were given the right to vote with the 19th Amendment in 1920.

We remember and honor all those who sacrificed, and suffered, and struggled, so we can have this right and this privilege… let us not take it for granted.

When you're running around with a million things to do, wondering if you should bother voting, and if it really matters -- yes, you should, and yes, it does matter. Voting honors our past and lays the groundwork for our future.

(And vist to read the charter documents of our democracy - the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.)

Gilda Bonanno's blog

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The World's Worst PowerPoint Presentations

by Gilda Bonanno LLC

Check out PC World's compilation of the world's worst PowerPoint presentations.  From text blocks to tiny font to unfathomable graphics, these presentations have it all:

The only thing I disagree with is that unfortunately, I've actually seen worse presentations.... What about you? What PowerPoint mistakes have you seen?

(Thanks to CIO Slideshow Newsletter for alerting me to the article)

Gilda Bonanno's blog

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Improve Your Public Speaking Skills by Thinking of Yourself as a Speaker

by Gilda Bonanno

Today is the 2nd anniversary of my blog! It's been a wonderful journey and I've enjoyed writing for you and learning from you.

My goal continues to be helping you improve your communication and presentation skills so you can be more successful - whether you are an entrepreneur, an employee of a company, the CEO of a large multinational firm, a college student or a stay-at-home parent.

Many of my posts come from what I've observed and learned from working with my private coaching clients, conducting training programs for corporate clients and speaking in front of groups and associations. And I especially enjoy answering reader questions.

So I hope you'll take a moment and write me a comment, letting me know what topics you'd like covered in future posts and what questions you'd like me to answer.

Thank you all for your support and your interest!

And in honor of the anniversary, I am reprinting here my very first blog post, Think of Yourself as a Speaker, which was originally posted on October 20, 2008.

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

Monday, October 18, 2010

Gilda to Present "“Bold Presentation Skills for Entrepreneurs & Small Business Owners”

I will be presenting the following session at the ConnectMore Networking Lunch on Tuesday, November 2, 2010:

“Bold Presentation Skills for Entrepreneurs & Small Business Owners”
The ability to present effectively is a key skill for professional success. Learn how to develop and demonstrate self-confidence, keep your audience’s attention by relating relevant and engaging stories, and practice your presentation so you can express your message clearly and concisely.

Event Details
11:30am - 2:00pm
Butterfield 8 Restaurant
112 Bedford Street, Stamford, Ct. (Free Pkg behind Restaurant)

Members: Free — Non Members: $20
Additional cost for lunch: $15 tax & Service Included. (Cash Bar)
Register at

For Information on Becoming a Member of ConnectMore, call /email: Rosann 917-744-3660 —

Gilda Bonanno's blog

Friday, October 15, 2010

Public Speaking for Consultants: How to Choose a Topic

by Gilda Bonanno

I enjoy answering reader questions. Here's a recent one:

Dear Gilda,
I want to start doing some speaking in my community.

I am a marketing consultant for small and medium sized companies, and particularly those in the technology field. I offer several different services, and would like to start speaking about topics. However, I am not sure how to start, and what topics to cover.

The audience could be technologists or a general audience, who would be interested in marketing topics.

Any suggestions would be welcomed.

My response:
Speaking locally is a good way for consultants to build name recognition and client base.

Start by making a list of all the potential topics you could speak about. Think about the questions clients frequently ask you, the issues that you feel most passionately about, the interesting things you've noticed in your experience, the general overview you provide to people unfamiliar with the type of work you do, etc.

Once you have a long list of potential topics, then narrow it down to the topics that:

A) You are most knowledgeable about AND
B) You would enjoy speaking about AND
C) Your potential audiences would be most interested in AND
D) Will best highlight the areas of your business where you want to establish your expertise.

Once you've decided on the best topics, spend time preparing and practicing your presentation before you speak live in front of a real audience.

Whatever your topic, you want to establish yourself as an expert who can communicate effectively. Being an effective presenter means your presentation is clear, organized, focused on the audience's needs and delivered within the time limit.

To improve your public speaking, try the following suggestions:

• Join a local Toastmasters club to have a place to practice and get feedback
• Record yourself (video, audio) and get feedback from trusted colleagues or mentors
• Work with a presentation skills coach
• Practice, practice, practice!

Have a question? Post it in the comment comments section or send me an email. (And let me know if you'd like to remain anonymous if I answer the question in my blog.)

Gilda Bonanno's blog

Friday, October 8, 2010

Empowering Successful Women to Develop Self-Confidence

by Gilda Bonanno

Two of my current presentation skills coaching clients struggle with self-confidence. They are both talented, smart, successful professional women. One has a Ph.D. in Engineering and over 20 years of experience in the electronics industry and the other is a CEO of a highly successful company.

Yet, despite their success, they struggle with self-confidence. And I've noticed this self-confidence deficit in many of my clients, women and men, from all backgrounds.

When it comes to presentations, whether to potential customers, senior management or industry colleagues, self-confidence matters.

Before you can command the attention of your audience, you have to believe that you have a message worth listening to and that you have the ability to communicate it effectively. If you don't believe it, your audience will not believe it.

Self-confidence also allows you to access all of your knowledge and experience so you will deliver the best presentation that you can. It helps you think quickly when you have to answer a question or deal with something unexpected, like a technical glitch. And it prevents you from self-destructing under pressure.

These smart women worry that if they appear self-confident, they will come across as bragging about themselves. And many people share this fear, which may stem from always being told as a child and young adult that you should be extra modest and never take credit for anything even if you were responsible for it – because you don't want to sound cocky.


There is a big difference between cockiness and self-confidence. Cockiness is off-putting and detrimental while healthy self-confidence is appropriate and desirable. And most people have a long way to go before they reach cockiness.

You can learn the difference between cockiness and self-confidence by observing others, practicing self-confidence and getting feedback from trusted and supportive mentors and colleagues.

The following quote from author Marianne Williamson reminds us of the power of self-confidence in public speaking and beyond.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world.

There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do….

And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” —Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love

So, women and men, the next time you have to present, take up your space at the table, hold your head up high and be proud of all that you've learned and achieved!

And as one person stands tall and exhibits self-confidence, it empowers others to do the same.

Gilda Bonanno's blog

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

7 Body Language Mistakes to Avoid When Presenting (Movement, Posture & Facial Expression)

by Gilda Bonanno

This facial expression would not
match the words - "I'm happy to
be presenting to you today."

Your non-verbal communications, or body language, can help you communicate your message to your audience when you are presenting. Movement, posture and facial expression are three elements of body language and they should mirror and enhance your words. Used effectively, they can enable you to convey your content successfully. Used inappropriately or sloppily, however, they can distract your audience and conflict with your message.

Here are seven mistakes to avoid with your movement, posture and facial expression:

1. Moving without purpose. Most of the time you should stand confidently in one place rather than pacing back and forth or walking aimlessly. If you do need to move, it should have a purpose. For example, walk confidently to the front of the room before you begin speaking and walk with purpose to the flipchart or to the computer.

2. Shifting from your weight from one foot to the other. Many people do this unconsciously and sometimes because their feet hurt (hint: wear comfortable shoes!) or they're nervous. Instead, stand with your feet firmly planted on the floor, with your weight equally distributed on both feet.

3. Hiding behind a desk, podium or flipchart. If the room configuration is set up so you are partially obscured behind something, then you have to rely more heavily on your voice and facial expressions to convey meaning. If you are nervous and feel exposed when there's nothing between you and the audience, practice, practice, practice – in front of the mirror, on video, in front of a friendly group of colleagues. If you must stand behind something, do so with assurance and not as if you are shrinking from the audience.

4. Standing too stiffly. Yes, you should stand up straight but it should be natural, not like you are frozen at attention. Keep your shoulders back and hold your head up so you can make eye contact. This posture conveys confidence and helps you breathe more fully.

5. Slouching and keeping your head down. Not only does it prevent you from looking at the audience, but it also conveys nervousness and makes it harder for the audience to hear you.

6. Not smiling, ever. Unless you are delivering horrible news, it is appropriate for you to smile, even in a business setting. Smiling will relax you and, in turn, relax the audience.

7. Smiling too much, especially when delivering bad news. You may be smiling or even giggling because you are very nervous, but it undermines the seriousness of your message and your sincerity. If you smile broadly or giggle while announcing mass layoffs, for example, your audience will interpret it as a sign of your lack of concern.

Eliminating these seven movement, posture and facial expression mistakes from your presentation will help you convey confidence and sincerity when you're presenting. And your body language will reinforce your message to the audience rather than distract from it.

Gilda Bonanno's blog


Sunday, October 3, 2010

Networking & Public Speaking Classes in Greenwich & Stamford

Live or work in or near Fairfield County, CT?

Then check out Gilda's Fall 2010 Classes in Greenwich and Stamford: 

How to Schmooze
Hate networking events because you never know what to say? Do you get stuck talking to the one person in the room that you know? Whether you're looking for new clients or a new job, or just looking to broaden your professional horizons, networking is a key ingredient of your success. This interactive session will teach you the techniques of successful networking so you can schmooze with ease.

Greenwich Adult Education
Greenwich, CT
Tuesday, October 26, 2010; 7-9 pm

Stamford Adult Education
Stamford, CT
Thursday, October 28, 2010; 6-8 pm

Public Speaking for Special Occasions
Do you have an upcoming opportunity to speak for a special occasion? Whether you're giving the toast at your best friend's wedding, saying a few words at a retirement party or accepting an award from your community organization, this class will help you plan and practice your remarks. We'll work on organizing your material, adding humor and interacting with the audience, so your words will be memorable-for all the right reasons!

Greenwich Adult Education
Greenwich, CT
Wednesday, October 27, 2010; 7-9 pm

Gilda Bonanno's blog

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Public Speaking Fundamentals: Knowing Them Is Not Enough

by Gilda Bonanno

Several years when I was teaching a public speaking class, a few of the participants remarked, "we already know this stuff." However, when I watched their presentations later that day, it was clear that whatever their claims about knowing "this stuff," they hadn't put it into practice.

Their presentations were full of filler words, like "um" and "ah," the organization of their information was jumbled and hard to follow, their slides were overcrowded with too many words in tiny font and their body language didn't support their message.

It's not enough to know something intellectually about effective presentation skills – you have to practice it consistently in order for it to become a habit and a normal part of how you present.

For example, it's not enough to know that you should avoid using filler words and pause words such as "um" and "ah" when presenting because too many can interrupt the flow of your ideas and distract the audience. Just knowing that won't help you avoid using them - you have to practice speaking without using them in order to make it a consistent and regular part of your speaking skills.

(An effective way to practice is to count pause words and fillers in other people's presentations and in your own. In fact, Toastmasters,, an international organization dedicated to helping people improve their public speaking skills, has an Um and Ah Counter at each meeting to count each person's pause words and filler words. The goal is not to embarrass you, but to help you become conscious of when you're using them, which is the first step in eliminating them from your presentations.)

Your goal is to master the fundamentals of presentation content and delivery through repeated practice so you can integrate them into how you normally and naturally present. Knowledge is not enough – you have to apply your knowledge. And then you're ready to say "I know this stuff" and "I do it consistently."

Gilda Bonanno's blog

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Public Speaking: Movement When Presenting PowerPoint Slides

by Gilda Bonanno

I love responding to reader's questions. Recently, my colleague, Lynn Gaertner-Johnston, emailed me a question about moving in the front of the room while presenting slides.  Lynn is a business writing expert and grammar guru (check out her website at and this question came up when she was teaching a class in an MBA program:

Sunlight and moonlight are the only lights you
should ever be bathed in - never "slide light"!
"Several students have walked across the room in front of their slides [while presenting], and it has caused them to be bathed in "slide light." I have suggested that they only move purposefully, for example, to shift to their next point or tell a story. I also suggested that they black out their slides when they do so, if they are using slides.

Anything else you would add on moving from one side of the room to another? Thanks, Lynn."

This is a great question - here's how I responded:

"You're "right on the money" regarding walking in front of the room. Presenters should move with purpose - to walk to the flipchart, to move to the other side  of the room so they can face that part of the audience more comfortably, etc. Most of the time they should "stand and deliver" (as I was told by one of the Toastmasters World Champions of Public Speaking, Mark Brown).

Blacking out the screen is a great idea to avoid being "bathed in slide light." (I love the way you phrased that!).

Another option is to insert a black slide into your presentation that will remind you when it's time to move (for example, to hand something out or tell a story from the other side of the room). Just create a blank slide and format it with a solid-fill black background - I learned this tip from Garr Reynolds and his wonderful Presentation Zen blog

And if you are emailing the presentation to people or it will be posted on a website, remember to remove the black slides or they will confuse people and use up a lot of ink if printed."

Do you have any additional suggestions or horror stories of "movement gone bad" when presenting slides? Post them here on my blog - and feel free to post additional questions for me to answer.

Gilda Bonanno's blog

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Terry Paulson & The Optimism Advantage

by Gilda Bonanno

While attending the National Speakers Association Convention (NSA) in Orlando a few weeks ago, I attended a session by Dr. Terry Paulson. He's a renowned motivational speaker, Ph.D. psychologist and a leading authority on change management.

The Optimism Advantage: 50 Simple Truths to Transform Your Attitudes and Actions into ResultsOne of the things that stuck with me the most from his presentation was how he described optimism as "earned" since it "comes from a track record of overcoming obstacles."

I think this description of optimism applies to life in general and specifically to public speaking - the more positive experiences you have speaking in public, the more confidence you will have and the better you will present the next time.

And even small steps count as positive experiences; for example, introducing yourself clearly and concisely at a networking event or answering a question with confidence at a staff meeting.

So rather than berating yourself for not being a better speaker, commit to developing your public speaking skills and look for opportunities to have positive experiences that will build your confidence.

To find out more about Dr. Paulson, check out his website or his new book, The Optimism Advantage: 50 Simple Truths to Transform Your Attitudes and Actions into Results (Amazon affiliate link) which I look forward to reading.

Gilda Bonanno's blog

Thursday, September 23, 2010

When Presenting, Give Signs Like Nature

by Gilda Bonanno LLC

Today is the first day of autumn.  Even without looking at the calendar, I know that here in the New England region of the United States, winter is not too far behind. How do I know? The leaves have turned from green to gold and red, there is frost on the grass in the morning and the days are getting shorter.

Nature gives clues that signal the end of one season and the coming of the next. These signs tell me what to expect and they help me get ready to rake the leaves, pull out my winter coat and set the clocks back. When you present, you can be like Nature – and give your audience signs as to what's coming next. When you set your audience's expectations, it allows them to follow your message more easily.

• In your introduction, share your message – what is the point of what you're going to say and why is it important to them? If you're clear about you want them to get out of your presentation, it's easier for them to focus on hearing that message

• It may help to remind the audience how long you will speak. For example, you can say, "in the next 10 minutes, I will share…" or " as we work together over the next hour…" That clue helps them to calibrate their time, especially if there is a full schedule of presenters.

• Be clear in your organization. Try to group your material into a few sections to make it easier to follow. For example, tell the audience if you're going to cover three case studies or four reasons or five steps.

• Make it clear how one section of your presentation is related to the next. Give the audience clues: are you continuing in the same theme, presenting the opposite point of view, focusing on a different company or talking about a different time period?

The End is Near
• Give the audience a sign that you're nearing your conclusion. For example, "the third and final reason you should consider Jimmy's Jammies for all your pajama needs is… " or "the last story that I'd like to share with you about the bride and groom is…"

Don't Tease
• If you give a sign that you're almost done, for example, by saying "in conclusion…," don't go on for another 20 minutes. The audience will get restless and may stop listening.

If you act like Nature and give your audience signs and clues when you speak, it will be easier for them to follow your presentation and make sense of it. Setting their expectations will help them understand and retain your message.

Gilda Bonanno's blog

Friday, September 17, 2010

Giving a Business Presentation? Don't Include Everything in Your PowerPoint Slides

by Gilda Bonanno LLC

When you are creating PowerPoint slides for your presentation, don't cram them full of everything you know about the topic. The slides are there to support your presentation, not replace you or replicate your brain.

Focus on Your Message
Just because you know all the details doesn't mean you have to include them in your slides. Instead, focus on your message – the one thing you want the audience to take away from your presentation – and include only the specific details that will help you convey your message to this audience. Keep everything else in your brain or your notes to answer questions.

Good Slides Take Time
In order to create slides that are clear, focused, easy to understand and supportive of your message, you have to plan ahead and ensure you have enough preparation time.

Use Phrases or Images
Don't copy-paste entire paragraphs of text or full Excel spreadsheets into your slides. One of two things will happen; either a) the audience won't be able to read the small font so they will be frustrated or b) they will read it to themselves faster than you can read it aloud to them, which will leave them wondering why they needed you to present in the first place. Neither is a good way for you to engage your audience.

Instead, use short phrases or high-quality images that are easy to read, even from the back of the room. Then you can provide the voiceover that builds on the information in the slide.

Why Do You Need This Slide?
For each slide, ask yourself: What is the point of this slide? How is this slide related to the slide before it and the slide after it? If you can't answer these questions, edit the slide or cut it out of your presentation.

Keep Extra Info to Answer Questions
Be open to audience questions (while also being mindful of your time limit). Use all the extra information that you didn't include in your slides to answer the questions, which will demonstrate your command of the topic.

The next time you have to give a presentation using PowerPoint slides, remember that the slides just play a supporting role - make sure they do their job by making them clear, focused and supportive of your message.

Gilda Bonanno's blog

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Power of Emotional Intelligence

If you live or work in the Southwestern Connecticut region, you're invited to the September meeting of the Southern CT chapter of the American Society for Training & Development (ASTD-SCC):

PROGRAM: "Harnessing the Power of Emotional Intelligence in Organizations"
PRESENTER: Bob Anderson of Leading Challenges LLC
DATE: Monday, September 27, 5:45 - 8:00 PM

LOCATION:  The Norwalk Inn and Conference Center
Please register and pay online:
(I am the immediate Past President of ASTD-SCC)

PROGRAM DESCRIPTION: Research by the Center for Creative Leadership has found that the primary causes of derailment in executives involve deficits in Emotional Intelligence (EQ). In addition, studies continue to show us that EQ is the key to excellence in leadership and a predictor of future success.

Attend the September 27th meeting with Bob Anderson of Leading Challenges LLC and learn:
• The business case for assessing and developing EQ in leaders.
• How to save time, energy and money by understanding our emotions and those of others.
• How to access rational thought, creativity and effective problem solving.
• The benefits of using a cognitive approach to stress and conflict.

ABOUT THE PRESENTER: Bob Anderson is part of the leadership faculty and GE Global Learning, Crotonville, where he introduces the business case for assessing and developing EQ and EQ's role in the ability to influence effectively without positional power.

Other clients Bob has worked with include Abbott Laboratories, Northwest Airlines, Electrolux/Husqvarna, Brown University, Georgetown University, Clif Bar and the National Sports Academy of Qatar. Bob is an individual executive coach to C-Level executives and Olympic coaches, in addition to being a dynamic presenter and facilitator.

Monday, September 27, 2010
5:45 PM Networking/Registration
6:15 PM - 8:00 PM Dinner and Program

$35 Chapter Members
$50 Guests
$20 Students

Reservation Deadline: Thursday, September 23, 2010
Meeting Location: Norwalk Inn and Conference Center, 99 East Avenue, Norwalk, CT

Please register and pay online:

Gilda Bonanno's blog

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Presentation Skills Lessons from the U.S. Open Tennis Grand Slam

by Gilda Bonanno LLC
Last week, I attended the U.S. Open tennis tournament at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, NY. I saw some great matches and players, including Rafael Nadal, Sam Querrey, David Nalbandian, Samantha Stosur, James Blake (from Fairfield, CT!) and John Isner.

A photo I took of John Isner serving - he practices this serve daily!
I love watching tennis - and I think there are lessons from tennis that can apply to presentation skills:

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are two of the best tennis players in the world and they practice for several hours a day. They never say, "I'm good enough, I don't need to practice anymore."

The same is true for presentations – if you want to give a powerful and effective presentation, you have to practice. The more comfortable you become at giving presentations, the more focused your practice becomes as you learn what specific aspect of the presentation you still have to work on.

A photo I took of James Blake (from CT!) - focused and determined
During a match, what the player tells himself or herself is important, especially when they're down a set and facing a tough opponent. If a player thinks, "I can't beat this opponent; I'm going to lose," it will be very difficult to overcome that mindset and win. Instead, when a player uses positive self-talk, "Yes, I can do this!" along with an energetic fist pump in the air, he or she is better able to access their skills, step up their game and have a shot at winning.

Likewise, what you tell yourself when you present is also important.  If you drown out the negative voice in your head and instead, use a positive phrase or mantra, you'll be able to present more effectively and confidently.

Two of my favorite tennis commentators, John and Patrick McEnroe, are always pointing out the players' body language – how players act between points, how they walk to the other side of the court, how they respond when they lose a point, etc. Negative body language sends a message to their opponent that they are giving up and don't believe they can win.

When you're presenting, your body language also sends a message to the audience – it should match the words you're saying and convey confidence and competence. For example, make eye contact with the audience, use appropriate gestures to illustrate your points, speak loudly enough to be heard and avoid nervous pacing.

The next time you have to give a presentation, remember these lessons from tennis to help you ace it.

And today is the Finals for the U.S. Open Men's Singles. It's going to be a great match and I can't wait to watch it!

Gilda Bonanno's blog