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