Thursday, April 28, 2011

Persuasive Power Point Visuals - NSA-CT Meeting May 16

David Paradi: How to Use Power Point Visuals that Persuade an Audience
National Speakers Association - CT Chapter (NSA-CT) Meeting   Monday, May 16, 2011, 6-9 pm

As a speaker, you already use PowerPoint, so why would you need to see this session? For one thing, you'll discover how to add a compelling edge to your presentation that will capture an audience's attention and hold it! Dave, deemed the "PowerPoint Rock Star" by the media, packed the house during his seminar at the 2008 NSA National Convention in New York.

His proven and simple five-step method helps you create persuasive PowerPoint visuals without being a designer. The "before" and "after" examples dramatically illustrate why his process makes such a difference for speakers who want to develop a program that is impactful and memorable.

About Dave Paradi
Dave Paradi is the author of "The Visual Slide Revolution" and "102 Tips to Communicate More Effectively Using PowerPoint". He has also co-authored two "Guide to PowerPoint" MBA-level textbooks, and is an Adjunct Faculty member at Rush University in Chicago. The media have called Dave a "presentation training guru", a "presentations expert" and a "PowerPoint rock star".

May 16, 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

Monday, April 25, 2011

Glazed Is Good for Doughnuts, Not Audiences

by Gilda Bonanno LLC

Recently, I received an email from an executive at a medical services company who needed training for her staff who provide technology training to internal customers:

"My team already has basic presentation skills. I’m looking for you to provide something that will help experienced speakers develop delivery skills so that our presentations are more poised, smoother, engaging and interactive. I want them to be more interactive so we can engage the audience. Right now during our training sessions, people's eyes tend to glaze over."

Glazed is good for doughnuts, but not audiences. Instead of glazed eyes, you want to see an engaged audience – which means they ask questions, offer productive comments and answer the questions you ask. And a more engaged audience means they are more likely to understand and retain whatever you are teaching them.

Here are 5 things you can do to engage the audience during a training session or presentation:

1. Be more animated than usual. Make sure your non-verbals (voice, eye contact, facial expressions, gestures, posture and movement) convey energy and enthusiasm.

2. When you ask questions, pause to give the audience a chance to answer. If you get uncomfortable with the silence and quickly jump in with your own answer, you will condition the audience not to answer since they will expect you to answer your own questions.

3. Use stories. Think of examples, case studies and real stories that are relevant to your topic. Then practice delivering them for timing and maximum impact.

4. Build in exercises that allow participants to practice what you're teaching. Figure out the purpose for each exercise and how you will facilitate them. Practice saying the instructions out loud so they are clear and succinct.

5. When you sense a lull in the energy, have the participants talk to each other. For example, ask them to turn to the person next to them and share one helpful thing they've learned so far.

Gilda Bonanno's blog

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Communication Is a Two-Way Street

by Gilda Bonanno LLC

Communication is always a two-way street. You, as the speaker, send a message to the listener. If the listener does not receive and understand your message, communication has not happened. And it's your job as the speaker to communicate your message in whatever form is necessary to ensure that it is heard and understood.

For example, a few weeks ago while I was facilitating a training program, one of the other instructors asked me what time I was going to conduct practice presentations with the class participants.

I replied, "10 to 12."

He said, "10 to 12. Really?"

I said, "Yes, 10 to 12. Isn't that what you expected and what we discussed?"

He replied, "No, that's not at all what I expected. How is that going to work with lunchtime and my session after lunch?"

I was puzzled. I thought we had agreed on this schedule already, but I could see that he was unpleasantly surprised.

So I repeated myself for the third time, now with a little edge in my voice, "10 to 12. And I don't think it will be a problem."

(Note to self: repeating my words exactly the same way over and over does not help the other person understand it better.)

He just stared. And finally, the light dawned on me: "I mean we'll practice between 10 o'clock and 12 o'clock noon… not at 10 minutes to 12, as in 11:50 am!"

"Oh," he said with a big sigh of relief. "I understand now. I thought you meant 10 minutes to 12, as in 11:50 am! Yes, that should give us enough time to practice before lunch and my session."

We had a good laugh about it. And I was reminded that successful communication, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. Since my message wasn’t clear to him, it was unsuccessful communication on my part.

Sometimes, the message is perfectly clear to us and we're puzzled when others don't get it. In those cases, we have to resist the urge to blame the listeners. Instead, it's helpful to take a moment to think about the communication from their point of view and hear it through their ears – and say it a different way to avoid possible misinterpretation.

Gilda Bonanno's blog

Monday, April 18, 2011

Presentation Skills Coaching Can Help You Improve Your Skills

by Gilda Bonanno LLC

Last month, I coached an IT professional who was preparing to give two one-hour presentations at a conference for a regional professional association.

He had some experience giving short presentations at work and was not afraid of public speaking. Before we met, his content was fairly well organized and his slides, which he had already submitted to the conference, were focused and easy to read. We spent about two hours together, practicing his presentation and refining his delivery.

The day after the conference, he sent me the following email:

Dear Gilda,
The sessions went extremely well. Your coaching improved my presentation at least 100%.

There are many things that made a big difference. Here are the top ones:

1. Strong opening. Stand still, wait for the room to settle down, pause, then start when I am ready (Making sure the projector screen is blacked out so the focus is on me and not the slides).

2. The story that you helped me rework was very well received. I was shocked at how well it worked.

3. Have a definitive and declarative closing. The new closing we developed was much better than the weak closing I had before.

4. Writing out the stories and the closing helped me. I did not deliver them exactly as I wrote them, but it was close enough so they were effective.

5. Reducing my notes from 19 pages to 3 pages. This allowed me to only flip through notes when the audience was working with an exercise so it wasn't distracting to them.

6. Walking into the audience to break them up into groups for the exercise.

Thanks for your help!

Whether you are an experienced presenter looking to take your skills to the next level or someone who has little experience speaking in front of groups, presentation skills coaching can help you improve your skills. Email me at to find out more about how my customized coaching can help you.

Gilda Bonanno's blog

Friday, April 15, 2011

Gilda to Keynote SNEC-PMI Project Management Conference in Hartford, CT 4/29/11

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.

Southern New England Chapter of the Project Management Institute (SNEC-PMI) Conference
Friday, April 29, 2011
Connecticut Convention Center
100 Columbus Ave., Hartford, CT

Join us for a great opportunity to learn new skills, earn PDUs and network with over 500 professionals and industry leaders.

For more info, visit and click on "Conference"

Gilda Bonanno's blog

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Speaking Italian Is Easier in Person Than Over the Phone

by Gilda Bonanno LLC

I recently returned from Italy where I facilitated training in Rome for a global client – more than 50 employees came from Italy, France, Spain, Germany, Belgium, Holland and Portugal. I also spent a few days touring and sightseeing.

When I left the U.S., my Italian language skills were okay, but a bit choppy and certainly not fluent. After the first week of almost total immersion (mostly among Italians who spoke very little English), my Italian improved greatly and I was able to speak more fluently. And it helped that most of the locals, even if they spoke excellent English, were very tolerant of people making mistakes when trying to speak Italian. In fact, most were very excited when I spoke Italian with them and they encouraged it.

I noticed, however, that it was much easier for me to speak Italian in person than over the telephone. In person, I could convey meaning by using gestures, facial expressions and movement, almost drawing what I was speaking about with my hands or acting it out.

For example, when the conference room was too hot, I could ask in Italian for the hotel staff to adjust the air conditioning while using gestures - fanning my face with my hand and wiping the sweat from my brow. I also could see how they reacted to my words and whether they looked confused or smiled.

On the phone, however, it was much more difficult to communicate because all I had were my words and my voice – I couldn't use any other non-verbals to help me communicate my message.

The same is true even when you're speaking in English or your native language. In front of a live audience, whether it's one or one hundred, you have all the elements of non-verbal communications – eye contact, facial expressions, gestures, posture, movement and voice – to help you communicate, provided they tell the same story as your words. You can also gauge the reaction of the audience. Over the phone, you have to rely only on your words and your voice.

For example, when I called the hotel front desk in Rome to ask for a replacement of the low battery for the safe in my room, I struggled to form the complete sentence correctly. I couldn't point to the safe, or demonstrate how I unlocked and opened it or see the desk clerk's facial expressions to determine if she understood me. And my voice probably didn't help much – I spoke slowly and I'm sure I sounded confused while also trying to sound polite. Oddly enough, I still gestured, even though no one could see it.

And all of this was complicated by the fact that I didn't know the Italian for "safe" and could only describe it literally as "the thing in my room where I put my passport and money."

It took time for the desk clerk to comprehend my request, but eventually it did work because a few minutes later, someone was at my door to replace the battery.

This episode reminded me that non-verbals matter and they can make communication easier – or harder. And if you're communicating over the phone, your voice and words become even more important.

And by the way, I also learned that the Italian word for safe is "cassaforte."

For photos of my trip to Italy, check out my blog post Gilda's Photos from Rome, Italy

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Thank You to Career Coach Nancy Collamer

A special thank you to career coach Nancy Collamer for blogging about the morning workshop, Bold Presentation Skills for Entrepreneurs, that I delivered for the Entrepreneurial Women's Network (EWN) in CT a few weeks ago.

Nancy is the career coach that I chose to work with when I left my corporate job to start my own business - she is a smart and effective coach who is dedicated to the success of her clients.

Here's an excerpt from her blog post, Ready to Reinvent Your Career? Your 28,000 Days Are Ticking:

"This past Friday, I had the great joy of watching one of my clients, Gilda Bonanno give a dynamic workshop about bold presentation skills. Although I've known her for several years, this was the first time I got to see her in action in front of a group of entrepreneurs. Needless to say, it was a great thrill, made even more special when she publicly thanked me for being the "midwife" to her business."

Read the rest of her post here...

Nancy, thanks for your ongoing support.  And if anyone is in need of someone to help you through the process of finding meaningful work that you're passionate about, in a career that allows you to have a great work-life balance, check out Nancy's services -

Gilda Bonanno's blog

Monday, April 4, 2011

Gilda to present "Bold Presentation Skills for Project Managers" - Westboro, MA 4/12/11

Gilda to present "Bold Presentation Skills for Project Managers" for Central Mass PMI in Westborough, MA 4/12/11

Bold presentation skills are an essential competency for successful Project Managers. Getting support for your ideas, managing productive project teams and working effectively with your internal and external customers all depend on your ability to communicate in a confident, engaging and persuasive manner.

Central Mass PMI (Project Management Institute) Meeting
Doubletree Hotel Boston/Westborough
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
5400 Computer Drive
Westboro, MA 01581
5:30 - 8:00 PM, speaker starts at 7 PM

For more info or to register, visit

Gilda Bonanno's blog