Monday, February 28, 2011

Public Speaking Is a Skill Anyone Can Develop

by Gilda Bonanno LLC

A few months ago, I was teaching presentation skills in China as part of a multi-day career development program for a Fortune 500 company. One of the participants from Shanghai, let's call her "Li," had recently graduated from college with a degree in Accounting and now worked in the Finance Department.

After I finished the morning session, Li came up to me and said, "Public speaking seems to come so easy for some people, but it doesn't for me. My boss can just open his mouth and he makes sense – he's clear, organized and to the point. I have to really work at it and still it seems so difficult."

So I asked her, "What work do you do in the Finance Department?"

She replied, "I handle internal audits and financial controls for several cost centers." 

"Do you find the work difficult?"

"Not really," she replied. "I really like it and I've always enjoyed working with numbers."

"Do you find some of the tax calculations difficult?" I asked.

"No," she answered. "They're complex, but I know how to understand them."

"Sounds like it comes easy to you," I said, "but I'm sure there are plenty of people in this class and in the company who would find it extremely difficult to understand the subjects that you find so easy."

"Ah…," she said as her eyes lit up, "I get it. Finance comes easy for me while I have to work at public speaking, but other people who find public speaking easy might have to work really hard to understand the finance work that I find easy."

All of us have strengths, things that we can do successfully and effortlessly. And to others who don't have those same strengths, it looks like we are doing magic – they can't imagine how we do it.

It's important to remember that one person's strength is another person's struggle.

So if you struggle with public speaking – don't despair. Those who don't appear to struggle with public speaking probably struggle with some of the things that seem to come easily for you.

Public speaking is a skill. While some people might be naturally more comfortable doing it, I believe that with the right training and practice, everyone can become a competent presenter. And in all my years of experience, I've never met ANYONE who could not develop the skill of public speaking – if he or she practiced the right things in the right way. Yes, that means you can, too.

And in the final class presentation in front of a panel of company executives, Li did just fine.

For more about my trip to China, see my blog posts, Teaching Public Speaking in China and Gilda's Photos from Shanghai, China.

Gilda Bonanno's blog

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Marketing & Social Media - NSA-CT March 14

Extend Your Marketing Effectiveness with Social Media
NSA-CT Meeting, Monday, March 14, 2011, 6-9 pm

How is Social Media different from Internet Marketing? Social media marketing is a powerful platform for increasing Web visibility, enhancing your reputation, and generating new leads. This fast-paced program will show you how it differs from Internet marketing, and how to transform it from something that's cool - into something that works to grow your business!

You will learn how:
• To build a social media hub that fits your business model.
• To use LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and blogging to drive your online marketing.
• Social media engagement increases your marketing effectiveness by extending traditional marketing methods.

Jeff Korhan is a new media marketer, an award-winning entrepreneur, and a top-ranked blogger. He applies over three decades of marketing experience to helping entrepreneurs and small businesses maximize their Web visibility, reputation, and referrals, especially with social media and Internet marketing. He blogs daily at

March 14, 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

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Build on What Works in Your Presentations

by Gilda Bonanno LLC

I have a coaching client who gets nervous when he has to deliver a prepared slide presentation about his company and products, but he is very comfortable answering questions about his company and products extemporaneously.

When he's answering questions, he's not worried about forgetting information that he is "supposed" to convey – he just focuses on answering the questions, most of which he has heard before and, according to him, he can "answer in his sleep." Also, answering questions helps ensure that he is communicating the information that the audience really wants to know.

So since that is what works for him, we work with it. For an upcoming prepared presentation that he has to deliver using slides, I suggested that he write a question or two on most of his slides, based on the information he has to convey and also what he thinks the audience might ask.  He can introduce the question by saying, "So you might be asking…" or "At this point, someone usually asks…" and read the question. Then he can answer the question as if it had been asked by someone in the audience and he was just repeating it.

Practicing this technique – along with other practice and skill development– should help him become more comfortable with giving a prepared presentation. And the audience will find having one or two questions large fonts on most slides will be visually interesting and different from the usual list of bullet points.

Try this approach yourself. If you have something that already works well in your presentations, find a way to build on it as you work on developing your presentation skills.

Gilda Bonanno's blog

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

4 Things to Include in a Workshop Introduction

by Gilda Bonanno LLC

I worked with an entrepreneur recently who is offering a new workshop with a colleague. Her part of the wrkshop includes kicking it off, with about 10 minutes allocated for her workshop introduction.

Here are 4 things that should be included in a workshop introduction (which you can modify as needed for your specific workshop):

1. Set the audience's expectations. One of the biggest obstacles that can prevent your workshop from being successful is if the audience's expectations don't match your goals. If you've been consistent in the invitation, description and marketing for the workshop, then what they've come for is what you are prepared to share with them.

2. Make the audience feel comfortable. Quickly handle any logistics or housekeeping items such as safety procedures, if you're going to take a break, how and when you will handle questions, etc. Also, if you included any kind of teaser in your marketing, such as a special guest or a gift, let them know when that will happen. The goal is to quickly clear the air of anything that could distract the audience from focusing on the workshop content.

3. Get to know your audience. Depending on the workshop and the number of people in the audience, you may know them already or have met them as they came in. If you have time, have them introduce themselves to the whole group so you – and everyone else - can learn about them. To prevent this from taking too much time, give very specific directions about what you'd like them to cover (name, why they're attending, etc.) and how quickly. If they are familiar with social media, you can ask them for the "Twitter version" of their introduction.

4. Jump right into your content. Like with a speech or presentation, you should avoid a long "preamble" of welcomes and thank yous. And there is no need to spend a lot of time on a litany of your accomplishments that are unrelated to the workshop. You can include your bio in the workshop invitation and also in the handouts, but don't waste the precious few seconds that you have to introduce the workshop and capture the audience's attention by droning on about yourself. You already are considered an expert because you are the workshop presenter – and the audience will judge for themselves whether you are credible once you share your content.

If you use the workshop introduction to set expectations, make the audience feel comfortable and get to know them, you will lay the foundation for a successful workshop - and then you can dive into your content with an interesting fact, a startling statistic or a relevant story that will engage the audience.

(For specifics on your introduction to a presentation rather than a workshop, see my blog post, 6 Tips for Introducing Yourself at the Start of Your Presentation)

Gilda Bonanno's blog

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Managing People of Different Generations

Gilda will present "Changes in How We Lead and Manage People of Different Generations" at the Women in Business Summit on Saturday, March 26, 2011 in Windsor, CT.  The Summit is 9 am-4 pm and Gilda's session is at 2:30 pm.

"Changes in How We Lead and Manage People of Different Generations" Session Description
In order to effectively lead and manage people of different generations – Gen X, Gen Y, Millennials, Baby Boomers – you have to understand each generation’s characteristics, become aware of your preconceptions and develop a strategy to discover and maximize the strengths of each individual.

What You Will Learn:
• Become more comfortable with moving out of your comfort zone to work with and lead people from different generations
• Discover how to increase employee engagement and commitment through credible and authentic communication
• Understand how to create an environment that encourages creative input from everyone
• Learn how active listening can make you a more effective manager

Event: 6th Annual Women in Business Summit
Theme: Power to Change
Date: Saturday, March 26, 2011
Location: Travelers Claim University, Windsor, CT
Time: 9:00am-4:00pm

Gilda Bonanno's blog

Saturday, February 19, 2011

8 Tips for Handling Radio Interviews Like a Pro

by Gilda Bonanno LLC

A coaching client recently landed a radio interview. After we got done celebrating, here's the 8 tips that I shared that will help her handle the interview like a pro:

1. Be clear about the parameters of the radio program – length, format (interview/call-in), demographics of audience, etc.

2. If the host doesn't ask you for a list of questions, then provide one with the introduction, "here are the questions that I'm usually asked" or "here are the questions that I can talk about readily that could be interesting for your listeners."

3. Think of the interview as a conversation with 1 person – the host (or if it's a call-in show, the person who is asking you the question).

4. Get to know the host. Look him or her up on Google and social media and look for interesting backgrounds or things you have in common that you can reference during the interview. Also listen to past interviews he or she has conducted to learn their interview patterns and their favorite questions.

5. Prepare. Do a dry run or dress rehearsal, especially if this is your first radio interview. Practice how will you answer a question in 30 seconds or summarize your business or product in 1 minute…. Most rookie interviewees go on too long and don't speak in clear, short sentences. If you're going to call into the program from your home or office, prepare your space so you can easily access your notes and anything you might need (water, tea, cough drops) and ensure you don't have interruptions.

6. Your voice matters. On the radio, your voice is the only part of body language/non-verbal communication that you have, so make it work for you. Speak loudly and clearly. Standing up while speaking can help you keep your energy up and having a mirror in front of you can remind you to smile.

7. Think beyond just one interview. Come up with ways you can leverage the interview either before or after – for example, write a press release, link to the interview or upload the audio file (or short clips) to your website or social media, etc.

8. Reflect. After the interview is over, listen to it and reflect on what worked well and what you can do better next time.

Gilda Bonanno's blog

Saturday, February 12, 2011

How to Schmooze - Rescheduled to Feb. 22

Due to snow, my February 1 "How to Schmooze" class in Greenwich was cancelled - and it has been rescheduled to Tuesday, February 22.

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 22, 2011; 7-9 pm

Gilda Bonanno's blog

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Why Too Much Information Can Hurt Your Presentation

by Gilda Bonanno LLC

When you present to an audience, you want to demonstrate that you're an expert in the topic that you're presenting about. But sometimes, that leads you to present an avalanche of information that overwhelms and confuses the audience.

Why is too much information (TMI) ineffective and detrimental?

• TMI can confuse your audience – they won't know what is important
• TMI abdicates your responsibility as the presenter to organize the information in a coherent way
• TMI will look and feel like a hasty "data dump" of all your raw material onto the audience – the equivalent of giving the first draft of your manuscript to the audience to read instead of a book that has been edited and rewritten
• TMI on your slides will make them hard to read

Rather than present too much information, you can deliver the "right" amount" of information – and "right" is defined in this case as the amount needed to connect to the audience so they can understand your message. (And your message is defined as the one thing that you want the audience to remember from your presentation).

From the entire "universe" of information and data that you know and have gathered about your topic, choose the key pieces that are most relevant to your message and then include them in your presentation. Keep the rest of the material with you, organized so you can access it easily if there is a question during your presentation – or so you can check it after the presentation and get back to someone with the answer.

The result? The audience understands your message without having to sift through extraneous information and you look like an expert – everybody wins!

Gilda Bonanno's blog