Sunday, December 16, 2012

3 Ways to Use Images in Your Presentation, Inspired by Daniel Coyle, Marjory Abrams & Garr Reynolds

by Gilda Bonanno LLC

Images can be a powerful means of communication - hence the old adage, "a picture is worth a thousand words."

According to  Daniel Coyle, the New York Times best-selling author of The Talent Code and of the informative new book, The Little Book of Talent: 52 Tips for Improving Your Skills, research shows that "your brain is evolved to register images more vividly and memorably than abstract ideas."

In his Tip #21 - Think in Images, he gives an example of a musician being asked to "touch the strings as if they were burning hot" rather than "touch the strings as lightly as possible." The clarity of the image will help the musician understand and perform the desired action. 

Using images applies not only to the way that I coach people in presentation skills, but also to the presentations themselves. 

Here are 3 ways for you to  use images in your presentation:

1. Use Images in Your Stories
A few years ago, I had the privilege of meeting Marjory Abrams, President of Boardroom, Inc., publisher of popular newsletters such as Bottom Line/Personal, Bottom Line/Health and Bottom Line/Wealth (

She shared an interesting lesson - a word learned from her father, Boardroom's founder, Marty Edelston: "obbligato." It's a musical term referring to musical lines, which in Margie's words, "dance around the main melody and enhance it."  As part of her lifelong career in publishing, Margie uses "obbligato" to describe the power of images in stories.

And a relevant, focused and well-practiced story can be a key component of your presentation.  It should include vivid, specific details that paint the picture for the audience.  For example, if you're telling a story about an employee problem, saying, "he came into work 2 hours late, with bloodshot eyes and slurring his words," is more effective and memorable than saying, "he came in drunk." The details help the audience visualize the image and the story in their minds and will help them remember it.
2.  Engage Your 5 Senses to Create the Image
Use your five senses – sight, sound, smell, touch and taste - to craft the details. For example, if you're sharing a story about your six-year-old son's soccer game as an example of how even inexperienced people can overcome obstacles, describe the smell of the wood fire in the air during an autumn soccer game, the sound of the leaves crunching under your feet or the taste of the mint chocolate chip ice cream at the postgame celebration party. Choose whichever senses help paint the picture most clearly.

3.  Use Images on Your Slides
If you must use PowerPoint, create visually compelling slides that include high-quality images that help the audience visualize, understand and remember your message.  You can use photos that you've taken yourself or you can find them online – I like  The images will be much more effective at communicating your ideas than slides with too many lines of bullet-pointed text crammed onto them. Presentation Zen, by Garr Reynolds, is a wonderful resource for how to create beautiful slides that use images to deliver a powerful message.

So the next time you have to deliver a presentation, think of your message in images, and then use those images to communicate to your audience so they will understand and remember what you've said.

For more on Daniel Coyle, including The Little Book of Talent and his blog, visit his website

For blog posts by Marjory Abrams, visit

For Presentation Zen resources by Garr Reynolds, visit

Gilda Bonanno's blog

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Video: How to Network at Holiday Parties

Presentation skills coach and professional speaker Gilda Bonanno provides 5 tips for how to network effectively at holiday parties, whether you're looking for a job or just looking to make contacts in your field. (4 mins, 6 seconds)

For more videos, see my blog posts:
Video: How to Introduce Yourself Quickly

Video: 5 Quick Tips to Avoid Rambling When Presenting

Gilda Bonanno's blog

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

"Make Positive Reaches" - from Daniel Coyle's The Little Book of Talent

by Gilda Bonanno LLC

Daniel Coyle, the New York Times best-selling author of The Talent Code, has written a fascinating and informative new book, The Little Book of Talent: 52 Tips for Improving Your Skills, which includes simple, practical tips based on examples and research from the world’s greatest talent hotbeds.

His tips can be applied to learning presentation skills. One of my favorite tips is #32 Make Positive Reaches: "it always works better to reach for what you want to accomplish, not away from what you want to avoid."

Coyle explains that you have a choice about how you frame your thoughts and that this choice is crucial to your success. 

This is one of the first lessons that I teach to my presentation skills coaching clients - to drown out the negative voice in their heads, the voice that focuses on what you want to avoid and tells you (right before you open your mouth to give a presentation), "don't mess up" or "don't make a fool of yourself."

I called that voice the "Joy-Sucker" because it sucks the joy out of your work and your life.  The Joy-Sucker undermines your confidence and makes you less able to convey your knowledge and experience to your audience.

You have to hear it and recognize it - and then eliminate it so it no longer undermines your skill-building progress. Replace it instead with a positive phrase or mantra that you can repeat to yourself to focus your mind and energy on what you want to accomplish.

For more about eliminating the "Joy-Sucker" voice and replacing it with a positive mantra, check out my blog post, Drown Out That Negative Voice in Your Head

For more about the power of your mindset to affect your public speaking skills, check out my blog post, What Do You Tell Yourself About How You Present

For more on Daniel Coyle, including book information and his blog, visit his website 

For my other blog posts inspired by Daniel Coyle, see:

Gilda Bonanno's blog

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Applying Lean Principles to Presentation Skills: Eliminate Waste

by Gilda Bonanno LLC
Lean manufacturing is a management philosophy which has its roots in the Toyota Production System and focuses on creating customer value while eliminating waste (in Japanese, "muda"). Building on the original 7 wastes that Lean identified, here are the 7 wastes that you should eliminate from your presentations:

1.  Overproduction
Value is defined as what the customer is willing to pay for and overproduction occurs when you create more than your customer needs at that time.  Applied to presentations, this means that first you must determine what the customer (in this case, your audience) really wants and then deliver specifically and exclusively that.  Be clear about the purpose of your presentation and the message that you want to deliver to meet their needs; what is the one thing that you want your audience to walk away with from your presentation? Look at every example, detail and story you'd like to include in your presentation and eliminate any that do not directly relate to your message.  Otherwise, you will "overproduce" and overwhelm the audience with too much detail while going over the time limit.
2.  Lack of Confidence
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.  Your self-confidence will allow you to tap into your background and your knowledge to deliver the best presentation that you can. And if something goes wrong during the presentation, self-confidence will help you think on your feet without self-destructing under the pressure.

3.  Lack of Preparation
You cannot deliver value to your audience if you try to "wing it" and pull together the presentation at the last minute.  Instead, take the time to prepare your material and practice it so you can deliver a focused, well-organized presentation within the time limit, answer questions with confidence and comfortably handle the room environment and logistics. And you don't have to be perfect - if something unexpected happens or you make a mistake, acknowledge it with grace and humor and move on.

4.  Filler Words
Filler words include "um," "ah," and words such as "like," "so," and "ok," which you use to fill in space while you remember or think of something to say next. Overusing them can make you sound uncertain and unprepared.  Instead of using filler words, pause and take a breath – and then move on to your next words.

5.  Mismatched Body Language
Body language, or non-verbal communication, includes elements such as facial expressions, voice, eye contact, gestures, posture and movement.  Your body language has to match the message you are conveying or it will confuse the audience and distract from your message.    And making eye contact, smiling and varying your voice and body language will make it easier for you to engage with the audience and keep their attention.
6.  Crowded Slides
First of all, think about whether you really need to use slides or not.  Remember, you are the presentation and the slides are only there to assist you, not the other way around.  If you do decide to use slides, make sure they are relevant, easy to read (even from the back of the room) and focused on your message.  Cut out the endless bullet-pointed sentences and the columns of data in 6-point font. Think about how the slides will look to your audience and try using less text and more high-quality photos or images to convey your message.

7.  Sloppy Q&A
Answering questions can be an integral part of your presentation.  Set expectations at the start of your presentation by letting the audience know if, how and when you will handle questions.  Be prepared for questions and have extra material that you didn’t use in your actual presentation available to answer questions.  Be mindful of your body language while responding so you convey respect, confidence and energy.  If you don’t know an answer, don’t bluff – admit that you don’t know.  And keep control of the time by agreeing to handle off-topic or in-depth questions later.

Eliminating these 7 wastes will allow you to create, practice and deliver a presentation that will clearly convey your message and deliver value to your audience.

For more of my posts applying lean principles to presentation skills, see:

Applying Lean Principles to Presentation Skills: Respect People

Applying Lean Principles to Presentation Skills: Optimize the Whole

Gilda Bonanno's blog


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

How to Help Your Meeting Note-Takers (from Lynn Gaertner-Johnston)

I'm a big fan of grammar guru Lynn Gaertner-Johnston's Business Writing blog and monthly e-newsletter. 

In a recent post, How to Help Your Meeting Note-Takers, she provides recommendations for your meetings that will facilitate the all-important role of the meeting note-taker.

Here is an excerpt:
2. Include outcomes on your agenda--not just topics. A topic is "Discussion of team emails." An outcome is "Agree on best practices for team emails."

The post includes highlights from her current e-newslette article, along with reader tips. Thanks to Lynn for mentioning my blog and some of my tips in her post!

To read the rest of her post, visit How to Help Your Meeting Note-Takers

To subscribe for free to Lynn's monthly e-newsletter, Better Writing at Work, visit

Gilda Bonanno's blog

Monday, December 3, 2012

More How to Network at Holiday Parties

Here is an email exchange I had this week with a newsletter subscriber about networking at holiday parties:

Hi Gilda,
I occasionally join my husband at one of his company's social gatherings for families and friends. It feels more like an assignment than a party for me as I have to present myself in an appropriate manner and be social with people I really don't know that well. Any tips to make it a happier experience for me?? I do get myself to meet and greet, however,it becomes a challenge to get the conversation to the next level as these are my husband's business colleagues and there are some limits as to what areas one can speak about. Thanks, A.

My response:
Dear A.,
Perhaps you can just accept that in some of these situations, the conversation will never get beyond "meet and greet" and move into the next level. Be content talking about the weather, movies, sports, kids and pets... in other words, set your expectations so that you are not frustrated with yourself for not being able to get into a deeper, more meaningful conversation.

Try to identify someone who feels out of place or uncomfortable and do your best to set them at ease (networking guru Susan RoAne calls it "acting like the host").

And plan a treat for yourself once the event is done to reward yourself for going through it with a smile.


Her response:
Dear Gilda,
Thanks for getting back to me so quickly......and, just in time for my husband's holiday party scheduled for this coming Saturday. I loved your tips and especially the one that advises giving myself a treat when the event is over. I like being in the moment but I guess in these situations when you want the moments to be over, it's nice to have a reward waiting!!

For more tips, read my post How to Network at Holiday Parties:

Gilda Bonanno's blog

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

How to Network at Holiday Parties

'Tis the season for holiday parties! Whether you're looking for a job or just looking to make contacts in your field, holiday parties are a great way to build your professional network.  And networking is really just another form of communication - so here are five guidelines for how to communicate/network successfully at holiday parties:

1.    Have a Plan
Before you decide to attend an event, focus on your purpose for attending.  Is there anyone in particular that you'd like to meet, or information that you are looking to gather? Will you share with people that you are in the market for a new job, or are looking for new clients? Having a plan will make it easier for you to focus your attention and make it more likely that you will be successful.

2.    Listen
Good networkers listen more than they talk.  Resist the urge to dominate the conversation with tales of your professional prowess or your favorite (and lengthy) holiday anecdote.  Ask open-ended questions; these questions often begin with "how" or "what" and require more than a "yes/no" answer.  And then actually listen to the answers.  Demonstrate that you are listening by your non-verbal communications, for example, by making eye contact. 

3.    Everything in Moderation   
Whether it's sponsored by your company or the local professional association, a holiday party is not the place to sample all the free booze you can swallow or stuff yourself with the free shrimp.  You are there to meet and greet people and you can do that best when you are sober and focused on people, not the bar or buffet table.  In fact, I recommend that you have a snack before you go to the party so you're not starving (which helps if you're dieting, too).

4.    Be Confident
If you hate networking and are uncomfortable schmoozing with people, recognize that many others feel just as uncomfortable as you do.  Reach out to them and they'll be grateful – and you may just make a great professional connection!  Another way to network confidently is to "tag team" the event with a colleague.  You both attend and each of you talks about the other person's accomplishments.  For example, I recently attended an awards event with a colleague who had won an award the previous year – it was far easier for me to introduce her and say, "Have you met Lisa? She won last year's award," than for her to say, "Hi, I'm Lisa and I won last year's award."  If you do tag team, be careful not to spend all your time just talking to your tag team partner or people you already know well, which defeats the purpose of networking.

5.    Follow Up
If you meet someone interesting, make a decision to follow up within a few days with a quick call or email.  It can be as simple as an email that references your conversation, such as, "I enjoyed meeting you at the Chamber of Commerce party yesterday and discussing our children's college search process." Unless you schedule time in your calendar for following up with your contacts, you will have a stack of business cards on your desk that will only collect dust.

If you follow these five holiday networking tips, you'll be able to communicate effectively and build your professional network.  And having a strong network will be useful no matter what the future brings.

Gilda Bonanno's blog

ASTD in New Jersey 12/5 Meeting

How to be a Productivity Rock Star!
A Mid New Jersey ASTD &

Northern New Jersey ASTD

Holiday Dinner Meeting

Join us for a holiday celebration

and learn a little something too!
Come network; hear from colleagues who will be sharing Employee Learning Week experiences, and from our honored guest, Novo Nordisk who will be receiving the first Mid New Jersey Kirkpatrick Learning Evaluation Award.
And of course, learn how to be a productivity Rock Star!
December 5, 2012
5:30-8:30 PM
Bridgewater Manor, 1251 Route 202/206, Bridgewater, NJ
Time management is dead – in today’s world, it’s all about TECH management! ZIP! Tips are the faster way to get more done – they get us to work better, smarter and faster… and they’re quick-to-learn and easy-to-use. In this high energy, learn-by-doing session, discover amazing, exciting and efficient new ways to greater productivity – use your email, Outlook, iPad, SmartPhone, Gmail, Google, Bing and Word to communicate, collaborate and get more done!
Learning professionals are asked to boost productivity, performance, profits and sales. ZIP! Tips will help you and those in your organization get organized, prioritized and energized to excel! So ZIP! off your hamster wheel and zoom to this meeting - you’ll zap your performance pain points and get directly to your goals.
Mike Song has taught millions to ZIP! via dynamic appearances on Good Morning America, CNN, CNBC, and NPR. He’s the lead author of the best-selling email effectiveness book, The Hamster Revolution, which has sold over 150,000 copies in 12 languages. Mike’s clients include 20% of the F500 including Novartis, Capital One, HP, and McDonalds. He has surveyed over 45,000 professionals and presented to audiences in America, Europe, Canada, Mexico, Australia, South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia.
Pre-Registered Price: $40
At the Door:$ 45 (Cash/Check Only)

We are honoring other local ASTD memberships from any sister chapter at the member rate
Pre-Registered Price: $40; At the Door:$ 45 (Cash/Check Only)

Pre-Registered: $50; At the Door: $55 Cash/Check Only

Pre-Registered $35; At the Door $ 35 Cash/Check Only

For more information or to register, visit

Gilda Bonanno's blog

Monday, November 19, 2012

Employee Learning Week - ASTD-SCC 12/3 Meeting

Employee Learning Week: Hot Topics Round Table
American Society for Training & Development - So. CT chapter
Monday, December 3, 2012 Meeting
Join us for an interactive forum to learn and share best practices around trends in workplace learning and performance:
Leadership Development- Ivette Ruiz, Learning and Development Consultant, Yale New Haven Health System (YNHHS), will share how within a healthcare setting they identified potential frontline leaders, developed strategies and competencies to bridge the gaps and created an environment of learning and growth through their program.
Social Learning & Technologies- Adam Weisblatt, Learning Technology Specialist, FactSet, will discuss future trends in the social learning space; what types of LMS technologies are employees using; what business groups are most likely to collaborate on social learning tools. Adam will share what the latest news is about these social learning tools and what they are tweeting about!
Mentoring- Kimberly Bates-McCarl, Talent Leader, previously with Thomson Reuters, will share creating and sustaining successful mentoring programs. What are the elements needed and what kind of format works? She will share critical do’s and don’ts to watch out for and facilitate this timely discussion on mentoring.
Employee Engagement- Ross Tartell, Learning Leader North America, GE Capital Real Estate, has recently published several articles on employee engagement. We know from a Towers Watson survey nearly two-thirds of US employees are not fully engaged in their work and are less productive as a result. Ross will present & facilitate a discussion on this critical aspect of work, “It is all about the Manager!”
Come engage with learning and development leaders, share your expertise and learn about the latest trends. You will have the opportunity to participate in two different topic discussions. Don’t miss this opportunity to build your network and expand your expertise!
Date: Monday, Dec 3, 2012
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
To register or for more information, visit
Gilda Bonanno's blog

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Women's Business Development Council Annual Business Breakfast Nov. 15

Women's Business Development Council Proudly Presents
Connect – Grow – Influence: Women With Impact
Annual Business Breakfast

Thursday, November 15, 2012
7:30 am - 9:30 am
Stamford Marriot Hotel & Spa, 243 Tresser Boulevard, Stamford, CT
Chrystia Freeland – Global Editor at Large, Thomson Reuters

Susan Sobbott – President, American Express OPEN
Barbara Kasoff – Founder & CEO, Women Impacting Public Policy
Lisa Price – Founder, Carol’s Daughter
Amy Davis – Founder, Kiss-u Corps, LLC / WBDC client
For more information call: 203.353.1750 or email:
To view the full invitation: click here

Turning a Speech into a Career - NSA-CT 11/19 Meeting

The Secret to Bounce! Turning a Speech into a Career or Turning a Career into a Speech!
Thomas J. Winninger CSP, CPAE, Cavett Recipient.
Creating an active speaking schedule and having fun doing it.

National Speakers Association - CT chapter - Meeting
November 19, 2012
6-9 PM

Hilton Garden Inn
25 Old Stratford Road
Shelton CT 06484

Free to Members/Associates
$30.00 for Guests

Thomas Winninger, 2800 platform presentations, 5 books, 300 articles, 80 video training programs, 5 million miles, 5000 flights, Speaker Hall of Fame, Founder NSA Center for Professional Speaking, and the author of Book It.
  • Becoming a Busy Speaking Celebrity.
  • Repeat Engagement Process.
  • Turning a Speech into books, tapes, articles, pod-casts, youtube...
  • Using Sponsorships.
  • Growing a Speech that becomes a business.
  • Real Numbers.
  • Going On-Line!
  • Developing Material
...and answers to other questions that you will ask.

Thomas Winninger is considered North America's leading market strategist. He is the founder of the Winninger Institute for Market Strategy, a research firm that creates marketing strategies for North America's premium companies.

In 1995, Winninger won the prestigious CAVETT AWARD from the National Speakers Association, the highest award given and only presented to one member each year!
Winninger has the incredible ability to work with industries and create business strategies that gain market advantage. His ideas have been featured on CNBC First Business, in board room reports, Venture and Success Magazines and published in more than 300 other trade journals, magazines and newspapers. You will not want to miss this meeting!

For more info or to register, visit

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Last Chance to Sign up for NSA-CT Speaker Academy

NSA-CT Speaker AcademySpeaker Academy is a one day information packed event that includes professional video feedback and guidance.

October 20, 2012
9:00 AM - 3:00 PM

Mercy Center at Madison
167 Neck Road
Madison, CT 06443

This event is designed for people who want to learn more about one of the most powerful but often overlooked business tool you can possess -- the ability to influence and persuade audiences and colleagues. Speaker Academy has been designed to show professionals and beginners alike the necessary skills that can make you stand out in today’s competitive business climate.

$125.00 Member Attendance Speaker-U

Gilda Bonanno's blog

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Ferrazzi's Social Capitalist Interviews Body Language Expert Joe Navarro

Click on the link below for an interesting interview with Joe Navarro, one of the original founding members of the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Program, who shares his fascinating insights into the power of non-verbal communications.

The interview was conducted by Tahl Raz, of master networker Keith Ferrazzi's Social Capitalist organization. Here are some excerpts:
"So, you begin to appreciate the power of nonverbals to influence others. You don’t walk into a room and say, "Hi, I’m here to influence you." We are influenced, we are seduced, by very subtle things. It doesn’t matter what profession you’re going into. We’re basically dealing with people."

"I tell business people, 'You’re in the same business I was in. You do two things every day that I did: You observe and you communicate. And if you fail on one or the other, you will fail in your business. You will fail in your enterprise, because if you can’t observe changes, if you can’t observe how people react to you and your message, then you don’t know how to communicate.'"

"I would argue that so-called soft skills are the golden skills that must be mastered...
There’s no way you can succeed in any career if you don’t master these. Be a great observer. Become a great communicator—and that’s both verbal and nonverbal. Create psychological comfort—so people will want to be with you, be around you. Finally, move to action. Do things with anticipation so that they don’t have to ask for it. Move quickly when you’re in front of them. If they hand you a piece of paper to Xerox—run to Xerox it! And what you will find is people will come to you and want to be there because you’re creating the perfect environment for them to be associated with."

Read the rest of the interview here (or listen to the recording):

Gilda Bonanno's blog

Saturday, September 29, 2012

NSA-CT Tuesday, October 16 Meeting

National Speakers Association - CT Chapter (NSA-CT) Meeting

TUESDAY meeting with Special Guest Speaker Dr. Dorothy Martin-Neville, Speaker, Author, Psychotherapist & Healer

Tuesday, October 16, 2012, 6-9 pm
Hilton Garden Inn, Shelton, CT

Finding your passion and not being afraid of risk / change / or re-branding to turn up your business!

“Dr. Dorothy” is a licensed psychotherapist & healer, a speaker and author. She has been in private practice since 1983. Although traditionally trained, her interest moved to integrative/holistic health care as she consistently recognized the impact that life events have on her patients. She came to see that those who live life passionately and positively - rather than merely surviving it – are the folks who achieve real success and/or health. As a result, taking risks and coming alive has become Dr. Dorothy’s message across the board.

As a child from an orphanage, the housing projects of South Boston, an ex-nun, former airline stewardess, wife, single mom, international speaker, and author who lived in the Caribbean for 10 years, she has lived her dreams and is preparing for more. A frequent radio and television guest, Dr. Dorothy has been featured on the Oprah Winfrey Radio Network, in the Huffington Post, and on many other radio/TV/print outlets.

Many speakers have been relying on their 'same ol' safe presentations...but might need to find new branding, new marketing, and fresh perspectives for a new message. Find your true passion and don’t be afraid of taking risks! If a ghetto kid...turned nun...turned airline stewardess...turned Doctor/Business entrepreneur can live her dream…so can you!

Many of us have lived the life we were “supposed” to live or are now simply living a life that no longer fits us. Finding that life and passion that is truly ours – that is the one we were meant to live – is not very complicated at all. However it does requires letting go of the outside world for a while and looking within your self – experiencing your self.

In listening to your own body, you are listening to your heart and to your soul – where those dreams and that life you are meant to live exist.

Come learn:
 •5 simple steps to claiming your dreams
 •What is needed to reclaim your passion and remember your dreams
 •How the values you live today may or may not support the life you want
 •What it takes to make your new dreams a part of who you are today
 •Michelangelo said: The greatest danger is not that your hopes are too high and you fail to reach them but that they are too low and you do

Tuesday, October 16, 2012
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

Friday, September 28, 2012

Latest Coaching Trends Panel - ASTD-SCC 10/22 Meeting

Latest Coaching Trends Panel
American Society for Training & Development Southern CT Chapter
October 22, 2012, Norwalk, CT

The Executive Coaching profession has evolved dramatically over the last decade. We have seen a dynamic shift from coaching only C-suite executives to coaching high potentials to “coaching on demand”, anytime, anywhere, when needed! Attend our October 22nd panel to find out:
How do companies use coaching today?
  • Where is the executive coaching profession headed?
  • Is everyone coachable?
  • How is the success of a coaching engagement measured?
  • What are best practices in coaching?
Come and learn from our panel of subject matter experts as they offer their unique perspectives on the trends in Executive Coaching.

Our speakers for this event are:

Karen Kirchner - Executive Coach and Training Consultant
Career Management Consulting.
Karen will discuss the future of Coaching and current trends seen by local firms.

Rondi Frey – Director, Leadership & Organizational Development, Norwalk Hospital.
Rondi will discuss the corporate role and how to select the right coaches, particularly for demanding clients such as doctors.
Ellen Keithline Byrne, MA, LPC- Assoc. Director, Learning & Organizational Resilience, Save The Children
Ellen will discuss the new “Pro Bono” coaching model.
Rick E. Spann - Executive Coach, Gateway International.
Rick will discuss how coaching can be successful virtually & remotely, bringing a new global perspective to coaching.

Date: Monday, October 22, 2012
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
Member in-transition: $25
Non-Members: $50
Students: $20

To register or for more information, visit

Gilda Bonanno's blog

Monday, September 24, 2012

Does Aikido's Shu Ha Ri Help With Presentations?

by Gilda Bonanno

Recently, a presentation skills coaching client asked about Shu Ha Ri, the cycle of training used in the Japanese martial art of Aikido and sometimes applied to software development and used as a model for other learning.

As I understand it, here are the 3 stages of Shu Ha Ri:

Shu: This stage is for building the technical foundation by learning the kata or essential forms and drills - "the student should be working to copy the techniques as taught without modification and without yet attempting to make any effort to understand the rationale of the techniques of the school/teacher."

Ha: Now that "each technique is thoroughly learned and absorbed into the muscle memory," it is up to the student to "to reflect on the meaning and purpose of everything that s/he has learned and thus come to a deeper understanding of the art than pure repetitive practice can allow.... "   

Ri: In this stage, the student becomes the practitioner and "must think originally and develop from background knowledge original thoughts about the art and test them against the reality of his or her background knowledge and conclusions as well as the demands of everyday life."  (All quotes from Ron Fox, The Iaido Newsletter vol 7, no. 2 #54

Applying Shu Ha Ri to Presentations
With some modifications and consideration, Shu Ha Ri can be applied to learning presentation skills.

When you are in the foundation-building stage of presentation skills, it is helpful to work with a coach or be mentored by an effective presenter as you focus on your goals:
  • What would you like to look and sound like when you are present? 
  • What do "effective" and "confident" look like in your company or industry culture? For example, in some companies or industries, presenters are expected to have command of large amounts of data and be able to answer detailed technical questions, while in others, presenters are considered confident if they present without notes. 
  • What would you expect the audience to do, be or know as a result of your presentation? (Do you want them to be informed, persuaded, entertained?)
Repetitions, drills and practice can help you to remember key elements of presentation skills, such as pausing and breathing at the end of a sentence rather than saying "um," or smiling and making eye contact with the audience. 

Don't Get Stuck in Shu
However, as you  are working with and learning from someone else, you have to be very careful not to just copy his or her presentation style exactly.  It would be like wearing someone else's clothes - they may look great on the other person, but they won't quite fit you. 

You have to be certain not to get stuck in the Shu stage and instead, move into the Ha stage where you analyze and understand why certain elements may or may not work for you and other people.  For example, some people can look very comfortable moving around the stage with a handheld microphone while others would be better standing in one spot with a lavaliere microphone. 

Each person has his or her unique presentation style or "voice" and while you can adapt techniques that you see other people using, you cannot completely copy anyone else's style.  Watching yourself on video can help you analyze what works and what doesn't, as can working with your coach or mentor.

Arrive at Ri
The ultimate goal is to arrive at Ri, which Yukio Takamura described as "a state of execution that simply occurs after shu and ha have been internalized....  It is form without being conscious of form. It is intuitive expression of technique that is as efficient as the prearranged form but utterly spontaneous." (Yukio Takamura, edited by Nanette Okura

Ri would mean when a presentation is seemingly effortless and you are comfortable with your content and truly in the moment connecting with and engaging the audience.  Achieving Ri would mean that you are not worried about the technicalities and individual aspects of your presentation because you are relying on your training, practice and experience to allow you to create a coherent whole that makes sense to your audience. 

Gilda Bonanno's blog

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Applying "Genchi Genbutsu" to Presentations

by Gilda Bonanno LLC

One of the key principle of the Toyota Production System and Lean manufacturing is "genchi-genbutsu," or "go, see, and confirm." Here is a descrption and example of "genchi genbutsu" from Implementing Lean Software Development From Concept to Cash by Mary & Tom Poppendieck:
"Consider the Sienna. The first version of the Toyota minivan didn't sell particularly well. When Chief Engineer Yuji Yokoya set out to improve the vehicle, he knew he needed more than focus groups and voice-of-the-customer data. So he followed Toyota tradition of genchi-genbutsu, or "go, see, and confirm." He drove a minivan—usually a Sienna—for 85,000 km (53,000 miles) through every state in the United States, every province in Canada, and every estado in Mexico.
He usually traveled with a key member of the design team, including John Jula, a good-sized engineer who would redesign the seats. As he traveled, Yokoya came to understand what Sienna customers would value: more space, comfortable front seats for parents, a back designed for kids, and family pricing. The resulting 2004 Sienna more than doubled the minivan's sales and raised the Sienna to the top of a crowded pack." (Chapter 3, Implementing Lean Software Development From Concept to Cash by Mary and Tom Poppendieck)
How does the concept of "genchi genbutsu" apply to presentations?

Essentially, it means you should understand your topic from the audience's point of view.  How do they view it? What do they need to know about it?

If you don't know, then try to speak to a representative sample of the audience and understand the issue as they see it.  Before you can change their mind about a topic or improve their understanding of it, it helps to know where they are starting from.

If you are speaking to a new audience, perhaps a different division of your company or a new client, it can help to physically visit their location before you speak or at least arrive there early, so you can walk around, observe the culture and listen to the jargon. 

Also get comfortable with your physical environment.  Sit in the audience's seats - literally - and see what the front of the room, your slides or the stage look like. 

And if you're a paid professional speaker, genchi genbutsu means that you don't just show up, speak and then leave - you actually spend time at the conference or company meeting people and understanding their needs.  And you do more to customize your speech to your audience than just occasionally inserting the name of the client.

Applying genchi genbutsu to your presentation will ultimately result in a presentation that is more tailored to your audience and resonates with them. And you will come across as a sincere and well-informed professional rather than as a pompous "talking head."

(Thanks to blog reader VJ for the Poppendieck reference.)

Gilda Bonanno's blog

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Golden Rule of Communications

by Gilda Bonanno LLC

The Golden Rule of Communications says to communicate unto others as THEY want to be communicated to - not as YOU want to be communicated to....

You may prefer to give a lot of background information about your project, but if you know that your audience of high-level executives are focused on how actual costs compare to budgeted costs, provide that information in the first few minutes of your presentation.

Or maybe you prefer to focus only on the sales data as shown in the monthly spreadsheet, but you know that your audience of sales managers likes to hear about customer experiences.  So start with a customer story and include several more throughout your presentation.

When developing your presentation, focus on your goal - what do you want the audience to understand and remember? And then prepare to deliver that message in a way that will make sense to that audience. Put yourselves in their shoes.  You cannot tell them everything you know about your topic, but only what is most important for them to know, delivered in a way that makes sense to them.

Yes, of course you can "push the envelope" a little and try to move them outside of their comfort zone.  For example, the audience may be used to seeing boring slides of bulleted lists and instead, you provide slides with high-quality images and very little text.  But make sure that your core message is structured and delivered so that it will be clear to the audience. 

Think of it as trying to speak the audience's language - while it may not be native to you and you may not be as comfortable with the grammar and the vocabulary, they will appreciate your effort and it will make it easier for them to understand you.

Gilda Bonanno's blog


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Learn to be a Professional Speaker - Oct 20 Madison CT

NSA-CT Speaker Academy
Speaker Academy is a one day information packed event that includes professional video feedback and guidance.

October 20, 2012
9:00 AM - 3:00 PM

Mercy Center at Madison
167 Neck Road
Madison, CT 06443

This event is designed for people who want to learn more about one of the most powerful but often overlooked business tool you can possess -- the ability to influence and persuade audiences and colleagues. Speaker Academy has been designed to show professionals and beginners alike the necessary skills that can make you stand out in today’s competitive business climate.

$125.00 Member Attendance Speaker-U
$99.00 Earlybird rate before September 24

Gilda Bonanno's blog

Friday, August 31, 2012

Reader Email: Blacking Out Your Slides Without Telling the AV Tech

While presenting, it can be very helpful to occasionally black out the screen (either by pressing the "blackout" key on your remote control or creating a slide with a solid fill black background) so the audience can focus on what you are saying and not your slides. 

However, not everyone is used to seeing slides blacked out.  One of my coaching clients emailed me the following story of what happened when the AV tech saw a black screen during his presentation. 

I thought you would get a kick out of this.  I was presenting yesterday in Hong Kong in front of about 60 people for a major investment banking firm.  At one point in my presentation, I used the remote slide advancer to black out the screen so I could discuss a topic in more detail without the distraction of the slide.  I had walked away from my laptop to get closer to the audience. 

After about a minute of talking, I turned around to see their A/V guy working feverishly on my laptop.  I politely walked over to him and asked what he was doing.   He said “fixing your computer.”  He had shut down my presentation and opened Windows display settings because he thought there was a problem.  I took over and after a few minutes got the presentation working again.  I learned a valuable lesson.

So remember to let the AV tech know if you are going to black out your slides.  And congratulations to my client for keeping his cool!

Gilda Bonanno's blog