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