Monday, January 31, 2011

Teaching Public Speaking in China

by Gilda Bonanno LLC

I recently returned from China, where I conducted training for a U.S.-based company that has global operations, including a large presence in Asia and a branch in Shanghai. 

It was a multi-day Career Development program for high-potential employees, 3-5 years into their careers, and the participants focused on understanding their strengths and weaknesses, setting career goals and understanding the business by participating in a business simulation.

There were several instructors and my main focus was teaching presentation skills and communication skills, which are essential skills for success in any career - and also essential in this program because they had to present a strategic operating plan to a real panel of company executives on the last day.

The participants came from China, Japan, Korea, Thailand and India and they had to present in English, which for most was a second or even third or fourth language.  Beyond the language, however, the participants had the same issues that I have found when teaching public speaking in the United States (as well as in Canada, Mexico and Europe):
  • dealing with nerves and developing confidence, especially when presenting to senior leadership
  • conveying a clear, concise message instead of overwhelming the audience with too much information
  • using non-verbals effectively, such as speaking loudly and clearly enough to be heard and understood
  • practicing in as close to the real environment as possible (doing a "dress rehearsal")
And as with participants from any country, there are no magic answer or quick solutions - but progress in public speaking can be made by focusing on the right things, organizing the material around a key message and practicing.

Here is an email I received after the program from one of the participants:

"I take this opportunity to thank you for the knowledge you delivered during the training.

I gave a 10-mins. presentation about 'safety in sports' last Friday during the monthly China meeting, that's 150 people includes my bosses.

'Eye contact, louder voice, confidence, smile and the internal desire to share the knowledge with my colleagues' makes a successful presentation. That's my first time and what you taught me helped me a lot!

I'm beginning to like the feeling of speaking publicly.
W.Q., Project Engineer, Shanghai

For photos from my trip, check out this blog post -

Gilda Bonanno's blog

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Mobile Learning - ASTD-SCC Meeting February 28, Norwalk, CT

A key trend in the world of learning is the use of the smartphone to deliver training that's short, accessible, and relevant. Attend the February 28 meeting of the Southern CT chapter of the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD-SCC) to hear how companies such as Frito-Lay, Accenture and Bank of America are using mobile learning for

•Product Spotlights
•Sales Briefings
•Compliance / Regulatory updates
• Assessments and surveys

You’ll have a chance to experience the technology and find out:

•Best practices in mobile learning
•How organizations are optimizing their investment in smartphones and infrastructure: the metrics, data and results
•How to leverage existing smartphone usage habits
•How to increase learner’s feedback and participation

Program Title: Mobile Learning
Speaker: Grant Kreft, Chief Executive, Intuition North America
Grant Kreft is the North American CEO for Intuition – an Irish based Knowledge Services Company. A New Zealand native, Grant has over fifteen years experience in software markets in both the US and UK. Intuition’s client list includes Microsoft, Ernst and Young, AstraZeneca and Price Waterhouse Coopers.

Networking: 5:45 PM
Dinner Served: 6:30 PM
Program: 6:45-8 PM

Norwalk Inn and Conference Center, 99 East Avenue, Norwalk CT 203-838-2000

Members: $35
Non-Members: $50
Students: $20

To register or for more information, visit

Gilda Bonanno's blog

Friday, January 21, 2011

"Creating the Speaker Business Model That's Right for You" NSA-CT Jan. 31

Join the CT chapter of the National Speakers Association (NSA-CT) for the first meeting of 2011:

Creating the Business Model That’s Right for You
This program, presented by a panel of successful speakers, will help you understand the different ways you can structure your business model to meet your goals. 

Kevin Carroll, Wally Hauck, Abby Marks Beale and Jane Pollak will share how they structure, manage and grow their business, including how they balance their business among various segments such as speaking, coaching, consulting, training, virtual/in-person, etc.  Come with all the questions you want answered! You will walk away with practical ideas that you can use immediately to launch, grow or evolve your speaking business. The panel will be faciliated by NSA-CT President Jeffrey Scott.

January 31, 2011
6:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Hilton Garden Inn
25 Old Stratford Road
Shelton, CT 06484
Free to Members/Associates
$30.00 for Guests

For more details or to register, please visit
Gilda Bonanno's blog

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Cut Out These Clichés, Overused Expressions & Tired Words

by Gilda Bonanno LLC

Is your communication full of clichés and tired old expressions? In public speaking, frequently using phrases like "you know" and "see what I mean" can be just as distracting to your listeners as frequently using filler words like "um" and "ah." These tired and overused words and phrases dilute the power of the message you are trying to convey.

According to Jeremy Butterfield's book, Damp Squid: The English Language Laid Bare (affiliate link), here are the ten most overused expressions, along with my comments:

1. "At the end of the day" (one of those phrases which has been overused and is now essentially meaningless)

2. "Fairly unique" (impossible – it's either unique or it's not)

3. "I personally think" (you don't need "personally" because "I" already conveys who is doing the thinking)

4. "At this moment in time" (replace with "now" – using fewer words is usually better)

5. "With all due respect" (eliminate, since it's usually followed by a statement that is anything but respectful)

6. "Absolutely" (I overuse this phrase and am working on reducing how many times I start my sentences with it, especially when responding to a question)

7. "It's a nightmare" (usually this phrase is an exaggeration – avoid it unless the seriousness of the situation truly warrants it)

8. "Shouldn't of" (this is my personal pet peeve and I hear and see it everywhere - the correct phrase should be "shouldn't have")

9. "24/7" (at one time, this may have been an interesting, unique phrase, but it has become so overused as to render it tired and clichéd)

10. "It's not rocket science" (another popular variation is "it's not brain surgery" – reduce usage of these phrases because obviously, very little is rocket science or brain surgery)

What is your personal top ten list of overused phrases? Once you've identified them, replace them in your public speaking with more powerful and evocative words that will help you convey your message clearly and memorably.

Gilda Bonanno's blog

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

"How to Schmooze" Classes in Greenwich & Stamford

Gilda will teach "How to Schmooze" classes in Greenwich and Stamford in February 2011. See below for details:

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., Tuesday, February 1, 2011; 7-9 pm

Stamford Adult Education., Thursday, February 3, 2011; 6-8 pm

Gilda Bonanno's blog

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Gilda to Present "“Bold Presentation Skills for Entrepreneurs" for EWN Feb. 4

Gilda will present "Bold Presentation Skills for Entrepreneurs" for the Entrepreneurial Women's Network (EWN) on Friday, February 4, 2011, 8:15-11:15 am, in Norwalk, CT.

Bold presentation skills are an essential competency for successful entrepreneurs. Developing a successful brand, marketing your expertise and building your client base all depend on your ability to communicate in a confident, engaging and persuasive manner.
In this interactive and engaging session, you will learn how to:

  • Develop and communicate self-confidence
  • Use powerful body language (voice, gestures, movement, eye contact) to connect to your audience and convey meaning
  • Keep your audience's attention by relating relevant and engaging stories
  • Practice your presentation so you can express your message clearly and concisely
  • Convey your knowledge and passion so your presentation is distinct and memorable, for all the right reasons!  
Location: Norwalk Inn & Conference Center
99 East Avenue, Norwalk, CT 06851
$23 for members; $29 for non-members ($5 walk-in surcharge)

To register, visit

Gilda Bonanno's blog