Sunday, May 29, 2011

Networking Forum - ASTD-SCC Meeting June 13, Norwalk, CT

Fifth Annual Networking Forum

Attendees at ASTD-SCC events have repeatedly asked for more opportunities to network and get to know colleagues.  The evening will include a combination of structured networking and informal interaction, and will provide a great opportunity to meet new people, share ideas and celebrate summer!  As a part of the structured networking, you will have the opportunity to participate in engaging activities to explore the key elements of your personal brand and interact with others in the group to promote your brand.

The branding exercises will be facilitated by Theresa Hedlt, President – Strategizelt Consulting. Theresa has more than twenty years of experience in strategic business development, brand positioning and organizational excellence.

 Don't miss this last meeting before our summer break!

Please join us on Monday, June 13th to:

• Meet new people
• Build relationships
• Enjoy good food in a relaxed setting!

Date: Monday, June 13, 2011
Networking: 5:45 PM

Dinner Served: 6:30 PM

Program: 6:45-8 PM

Hosted by the Southern CT chapter of the American Society for Training & Development (ASTD-SCC) at the Norwalk Inn and Conference Center, 99 East Avenue, Norwalk CT 203-838-2000

Members: $35
Non-Members: $50
Students: $20
About Theresa Heldt
A forward thinking strategist known for her business acumen and no nonsense approach, Theresa Heldt has more than 20 years of experience both as a consultant and as an executive level leader with a Fortune 500 company in the hotel industry. While in this position, Theresa has been consistently tapped for progressively higher levels of responsibility, leading to her overseeing staff training programs for the company’s 150,000 associates. She also served as a trusted member of the executive team charged with new hotel openings around the globe, and led branding efforts for more than 180 full service hotels.

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

Friday, May 27, 2011

How to Introduce Yourself Quickly

by Gilda Bonanno LLC

Sometimes you have to introduce yourself in 60 seconds or less. This type of introduction is not your "elevator speech" – it's a brief introduction only long enough to outline the basics.

For example, at some networking events, everyone sits around a large table and then each person stands and gives a 30-second introduction, including name and business.

Or sometimes, when a group of several people is giving a presentation to company executives who might not know them, they start with each person coming forward and doing a quick introduction, including name, department, function and location.

Despite how easy a quick introduction may be, people often stumble over it by forgetting to include something, not making eye contact with the audience, mumbling, speaking too softly or fidgeting while speaking.

Here are guidelines to remember when doing a quick introduction:

Prepare. What will you say? Yes, you could talk about yourself for many minutes, but you only have a few seconds, so you have to be selective about what you present. Consider what you really what to communicate and what will have the most meaning for that particular audience.

Practice. Say your introduction out loud, preferably on camera or audio or in front of a mirror or a trusted friend. Repeat it until you can say it clearly and smoothly.

You don't have to memorize it, but it will help you to have key phrases that you can easily remember and say. Because otherwise you may end up saying something such as, "I'm, uh, Mary Johnson… I guess I work for the IT department… and that's it. Oh, and I work at the headquarters office in, uh, Lincoln." And then you've wasted an opportunity to make a good impression.

Here are some examples of quick introductions:

o Within a company: "Good morning. I'm Denise Wallace, the Customer Service Supervisor at the Dallas Call Center."

o Within a company: "Hello, I'm Glen Boyd. I'm a sales representative covering Western Canada. I sell durable medical equipment like canes and wheelchairs."

o Outside the company: "Good afternoon. I'm Andrew Milne. I own and operate Print Plus, a full-service print and copy store in White Plains."

o Outside the company: "Hi, I'm Lisa Caldwell. I'm a tax consultant in Brooklyn specializing in small businesses.

Voice. Speak loudly, slowly and clearly enough to be heard and understood. Enunciate and speak with energy; while you're familiar with your name and identifying details, it may be the first time the audience has heard them.

• Make eye contact. In a few seconds, you can't look at everyone, so pick a few people at random spots throughout the room.

• Stand up straight. Stand still (no pacing or rocking) with shoulders back, head up and your weight evenly distributed on both feet.

• Smile. Smiling will help you look more relaxed and also communicate warmth and sincerity.

• Communicate self-confidence. All of these elements together help you demonstrate self-confidence. If you don't sound confident about the basics of who you are and what you do, then how can you (or the audience) be confident about anything else you might say?

Following these guidelines will help you introduce yourself quickly with confidence and clarity so you can have a good start to your presentation and networking.

Gilda Bonanno's blog

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Vary Your Body Language to Communicate Meaning

by Gilda Bonanno LLC

Your body language, or non-verbal communication, is an important part of your communication skills. Body language includes elements such as eye contact, facial expression, voice, gestures, posture and movement. Humans have the ability to express a wide range of emotions and meanings merely by varying body language – but most of us only use a fraction of that variety.

Varying your body language can help you deliver your message effectively (and of course, before you think about body language, it's crucial that you actually DO have a message - something to say) and also help to keep your audience engaged, whether you're speaking to one, one hundred or one thousand people.

The best way to develop variety in your body language is to record yourself - preferably on video, or at least on audio – and then watch or listen to it.

Once you have established the baseline for your skills by observing yourself on video or listening to the audio, then you can work on developing your skills. A great way to practice is to say the following phrases out loud five or six times, and each time, completely change the meaning of the words by changing only your voice and body language. In essence, you're using your body language to provide the grammar and punctuation for the words.

For example, here are the variations on the phrase, "I'm sorry" –

• "I'm sorry" could mean: "I'm truly sorry…I can't believe I did that"

• "I'm sorry?" could mean: "Why should I be sorry – you're the one who should be sorry!"

• "I'm so---rry!!" could mean: "OK, OK, get over it already!"

• "….I'm….sorry…" could mean "This is really difficult for me to say to you… I'm truly sorry."

Here are other phrases that you can practice:

• "Give me a break"

• "How are you"

• "Get over it"

• "I don’t agree"

• "It's over"

• "That's good"

• "Let's go"

• "OK"

• "Hello"

• "It's nothing"

• "I'm happy"

• "What"

• "How are we going to do that"

• "Excuse me"

• "Are you kidding"

• "Why"

• "Thank you"

• "Have a nice day"

• "I don’t believe it"

• "I said so"

• "Good-bye"

• "Thanks"

(And for a fun, quick exercise, try this in a group)

(And if you're communicating over the phone, all you have is your voice, so it becomes even more important for you to vary your pitch, volume, emphasis, pausing and speed.)

Gilda Bonanno's blog

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Gilda's Photos from the Cotswolds

Here are more photos from my recent trip to the U.K, where I facilitated training for a global client.  One evening, we took a tour of Castle Combe, one of the loveliest villages in the Cotswolds.  

The Manor House at Castle Combe -
a quintessentially English sight

The Manor House had beautiful gardens and large, lush lawns

We had a fabulous dinner here at the Manor House and
a wonderful view across the lawns as the sun was setting

Lawn chess, anyone?

A walk through the village of Castle Combe, famous for its stone cottages
St. Andrew's Church in the village of Castle Combe
most likely dates from the 12th century

Gilda Bonanno's blog

Friday, May 20, 2011

Gilda's Photos from London, England

Here are photos from my recent trip to London, England where I facilitated training programs for a global client  - participants came from throughout the U.K. and Belgium, Italy, Germany, Spain and Denmark. I had a few days to tour London before the training began.

At the gates of Buckingham Palace,
right before the Changing of the Guard.
(photo credit: NU)

With the famous "Beefeater" Guard at the Tower of London
(photo credit: NU)

Westminster Abbey -  one week after the Royal Wedding,
they were still removing viewing stands and press boxes
from the streets in front
A replica of an officer guarding the Cabinet Room at the Churchill War Rooms,
the underground bunker from which Winston Churchill ran the British Government
during the Second World War - one of my favorite places in London

Lovely gardens at Kensington Palace - much of the Palace is being restored
(as are other popular sites) in anticipation of the 2012 Olympic Games

Tea at the Orangery at Kensington Palace -
scones with jam and cream, cucumber tea sandwiches, biscuits, tarts
(yes, I ate it all!)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Cut Out Your Idioms & Slang When Speaking Abroad

by Gilda Bonanno LLC

A few months ago, I made my third trip to China to conduct training for a U.S.-based company that has global operations, including a large presence in Asia and a branch in Shanghai.

The participants came from China, Japan, Korea, Thailand and India and the program was conducted in English, which for most was a second or even third or fourth language. One afternoon, I wrote down all the "Americanisms" - idioms and slang – that the instructors and company executives used. While these idioms and slang words are an important part of the richness of our language, they can make it very difficult for a non-native speaker to understand what we are saying, even if they are fluent in grammatically correct, technical English.

Here are some of the Americanisms that I heard:

• Switch gears
• It's a tall order
• Pet peeves
• Check it out
• Go the extra mile
• Get everyone on board
• Get bogged down
• Raise a red flag
• Let's not get off track
• Drag your feet
• Dig your heels in
• Hit a home run
• Batting a thousand
• Block and tackle
• Hail Mary pass
• Push the envelope

And there were many more….

In my travels, I've presented to and facilitated training in English for people from many countries in the Americas, Europe and Asia (and also throughout the U.S. to audiences which contain non-native speakers). Here are my quick lessons learned:

1. Use as few idioms/slang words as possible (this is difficult because we're not always conscious of using them!).

2. Explain the idioms when possible.

3. Be clear about the context of the sentence so it is easier to understand.

4. Simple, clear, direct sentences are best.

5. Enunciate and speak slower than usual (especially if you're from New York, like I am, and tend to speak fast) – and also make sure you speak loudly enough to be heard clearly.

Gilda Bonanno's blog

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Learning Leaders Panel - ASTD-SCC Meeting May 16, Norwalk, CT

Emerging Trends in Leadership Development

Developing competent global leaders in today’s complex environment is at the forefront for most organizations striving to drive or sustain growth and competitive advantage. Come hear a broad range of perspectives on emerging trends and methodologies in leadership development and how to constructively shape them.

•Jeff Barnes – Learning Leader, Global Leadership Development, GE Crotonville

•Betsy Kennally – Director, Organizational Development, Orange Regional Medical Center

•Johanne Henderson, Manager Training and Organizational Development, BIC

•Kimberly Bates McCarl, Vice President, Talent Lead, Project Catalyst, Thomson Reuters

•Rondi Frey, Director, Organizational and Leadership Development, Norwalk Hospital

•Moderator: Scott Ventrella, Positive Dynamics and Fordham University

Date: Monday, May 16 2011
Time: 5:30 PM - 8 PM

Hosted by the Southern CT chapter of the American Society for Training & Development (ASTD-SCC) at the 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

Sunday, May 8, 2011

I Love You, Mom

by Gilda Bonanno

Today is Mother's Day so I am reprinting my blog post about my Mom and all the wonderful things I have learned from her. Here they are, in random order:

Snacking is good. Mom loves to snack and had a simple rule for my brother and I when we were growing up: as long as you brush your teeth, it's ok to eat potato chips, ice cream and chocolate. When we played outside, Mom would call us in to give us ice cream. And during our marathon Scrabble sessions, there was always a snack break or two. No snacks were forbidden and no food was "evil," so we developed a healthy relationship with food. And all that teeth-brushing must have worked because I have never had a cavity in my life!

Talking to strangers is ok. Mom talks to anyone, especially in the grocery store. All it takes to start a conversation is an observation about the size of the iceberg lettuce or shared commiseration about the long checkout line—and then the conversation is off and running. Today it would be called "networking."

Dollars are stretchable. Growing up, we did not have a lot of money. Mom managed to keep a family of four afloat on very, very little money. She did this by working hard and spending only on necessities. And even when we didn't have a lot, she enjoyed volunteering at church to make food baskets for people who had less than we did. She made sacrifices for us; in fact, I don't recall her ever buying anything for herself. We often joke that we should send her to Washington, D.C. to help the government balance the budget.

Coupon clipping is an art. Mom checks the sale papers and clips coupons religiously. Then she calls and tells me how much money she saved in the store. I expect to get a phone call from the police one of these days, informing me that they've arrested her because she saved so much on one item that the store had to pay HER for it.

Projects can be fun. Organizing the file cabinet? Unpacking boxes? Cleaning out the basement? Call Mom. She loves doing work around the house especially if she gets to use the paper shredder or go to the dump (or "transfer station," as it's called in my town). During her last visit, she helped me organize my office closet, which had been so crammed with stuff that I hated opening it. It took hours. And when I inevitably got tired of doing it, looked at all the junk that we had piled on the floor and the desk and said "I don't want to play this game anymore," Mom said "it's ok, we're almost done" and kept me going. Now everything is neatly labeled in its place and I love opening the closet. And some of the neighbors want to rent her out to help with their projects.

Humor helps. Mom always has a positive attitude and loves a good laugh. She loves the Pink Panther movies and recently laughed hysterically at the dance scene in Johnny English, a spoof on spy movies starring Rowan Atkinson (from the Mr. Bean series). We played the scene over and over, just to make her laugh more. She will be delighted to know they are releasing a sequel. She also has the unfortunate habit of laughing whenever I am up on a chair, taking a box down from the closet – I don't know why. She is supposed to be holding the chair for me and instead, she starts giggling just as I'm trying to lift a heavy box and then of course, I start laughing… luckily, no one has gotten hurt…

Simple things can make you happy. Mom doesn't need a "spa day" or a meal at a fancy restaurant to be happy. She is what we fondly call "low maintenance." She enjoys the little things – like watching an old movie starring Robert Taylor or Joseph Cotten (extra points if it's set during World War II), going grocery-shopping at the Shop-Rite store near my house, eating ice cream outside on a warm day and of course, eating a Hershey's chocolate bar.

Complaining is not helpful. Not complaining is easy when life is easy, but Mom never complained even when life got hard. When family members were sick, when things didn't work out as expected or even when my father died, Mom didn't complain or ask, "why me?" She just kept going forward, with a strong spirit, a smile and a desire to help other people. I'm still learning that lesson.

A few weeks ago, I received a big envelope from Mom in the mail. Inside were packages of one of my favorite candies – dots of colored sugar stuck to long strips of paper. (Yes, you get some of the paper stuck in your teeth when you eat them, but that's half the fun.) She knows that I couldn't find them locally, so she looked for them on one of her grocery trips and sent them to me.

Thanks, Mom, and I love you.

Gilda Bonanno's blog