Sunday, January 31, 2016

5 Minute Reflection to Improve Your Presentation Skills

by Gilda Bonanno LLC 

If you want to become a better presenter, take 5 minutes after each presentation to reflect on the following 7 questions:

1)      On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your presentation overall? (1 is terrible, 10 is awesome)
2)      On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your nerves? (1 is very relaxed; 10 is near heart attack)
3)      What worked?
4)      What didn’t work as well as you’d like?
5)      Any feedback from others or audio/video you can review?
6)      Anything new in this presentation? (Venue, topic, audience, use of technology, etc.)
7)      What would you like to do differently the next time?

Keep track of your reflections on paper or electronically and over time you should see patterns emerge.  You should also see improvement in your skills.

Even after more than ten years as a professional speaker, I still reflect on every presentation to ensure I’m being the best I can be. 

And if you’re not seeing any progress or you’re not making improvement fast enough, contact me for information about how my individual presentation skills coaching can take your skills to the next level.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Gilda Bonanno’s VHFP Formula for Increasing Your Energy When Presenting

by Gilda Bonanno LLC 

When you’re presenting, you need to demonstrate energy to captivate and engage the audience.  Even excellent content will be lost if you speak in a lifeless monotone while slouching with your arms hanging stiffly at your sides. 

Here is my VHFP formula to develop and convey energy when you’re presenting:

Your voice needs to have variety in all its aspects, including tone, volume, rate and pitch.  These changes signal meaning to the audience in the same way that punctuation signals meaning to a reader.  For example, you can pause slightly before an important word or speak louder with more enunciation when saying a significant phrase. 

You can convey energy by using your hands for natural gestures to illustrate what you’re talking about.  When not making a gesture, your hands should be hanging loosely at your sides, not clutching your notes nervously or jammed in your pockets. 

You also need to be aware of your facial expressions.  They should match your content and show that you’re alert and confident.  Make eye contact with people in the audience and when appropriate, smile - and not just a little smile with your mouth, but a smile that “lights up” your whole face and reaches your eyes. 

An energized posture means that you stand up straight, shoulders back, with your weight evenly distributed on both feet.  Your knees are relaxed, not locked.  You are not standing at attention like a soldier or slouching like a teenager hanging out with friends.

Following the VHFP Formula will enable you to become an energized presenter, help your content come alive to the audience and keep their attention engaged.  

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Monday, January 25, 2016

Presenting From a Lectern? Don’t “Hunch, Hold or Hide”

by Gilda Bonanno LLC

I usually don’t recommend giving a presentation from behind a lectern because it can become a barrier between you and the audience and make it harder for you to engage them.

However, sometimes you have no choice because there is no other place for you to stand without blocking the big screen or the microphone you need to use is fixed to the lectern. 

If you must use the lectern, avoid these 3 mistakes to ensure the lectern doesn’t interfere with your ability to communicate confidently and clearly with your audience:

1)      Don’t hunch over the lectern
Stand up straight so you appear energized and confident.  Resist the urge to slouch over the lectern. Adjust the microphone to your height rather than lowering your head and slumping to meet it. 

If you use notes, make sure the words are in large enough font to be read easily when the notes are placed on the podium and you are standing up straight.

2)      Don’t hold on for dear life
Especially if you are a little nervous about speaking, the tendency is to grip the edges of the lectern so hard that your knuckles turn white, making you look tense and stilted.  Relax your hands at your sides or place them loosely on the lectern; use them for natural gestures, ensuring that they can be seen above the top of the lectern. 

3)      Don’t hide behind the lectern
You cannot be an effective presenter if the audience can only see the top of your head. Practice standing behind the lectern so you know whether you need a step to stand on in order to be seen clearly by the audience.

If you have to deliver a presentation from behind a lectern, avoid these 3 mistakes so you can present with poise, energy and confidence.

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Sunday, January 24, 2016

Inspired by Gilda to let my voice be heard

"I want to thank you for sharing your insights with me at yesterday's Women Architects Event. I was especially inspired by the recommendation that we 'take up more space at the table.' That we speak up, speak with clarity and confidence, and literally put our elbows out. Especially as women in a male-dominated construction industry, we must be proud and strong and make our voices heard! 

I will be paying attention to how I present myself: am I clear and confident? Or am I asking permission with my tone of voice? I will make an effort to leave out the 'umms' and 'uhhs' and other filler words that take away from the directness of my intended statement. I appreciate your advice and will put it to work!!"
- Maura Newell Juan, AIA, Co-Founder and Principal Architect, seventy2architects

To see more testimonials about Gilda's work, visit

Friday, January 15, 2016

About Gilda Bonanno

Gilda Bonanno is a speaker, trainer and coach who helps people improve their presentation and communication skills so they can be more successful. She achieves these results by combining her business background with her improv comedy performance experience and a conviction that with the right training and practice, anyone can become a more effective communicator. She has worked with executives and entrepreneurs throughout North America and in South America, Europe, China, India and Thailand.

In addition to facilitating high-energy, client-focused training programs, Gilda speaks about leadership, motivation, communication and humor to groups ranging from engineers to healthcare professionals to investment bankers. Gilda also coaches individuals to overcome their fear of public speaking and eliminate the barriers to letting their voice be heard.

She is a past Board Member for the CT Women's Business Development Council (WBDC) and Past President of the CT chapter of the National Speakers Association (NSA) and the Southern CT chapter of the Association for Talent Development (formerly ASTD).  

After living through the tsunami that hit southern India in 2004, Gilda came home and decided to launch her own training, speaking and coaching business. Her previous work experience in the pharmaceutical and information technology industries gives her a keen understanding of the challenges facing businesses.

She is a certified Project Management Practitioner (PMP), has a certificate in Process Reengineering and holds an Advanced Business Certificate in Management from the University of Connecticut School of Business. Her expertise in process improvement and project management allows her to help clients use their communication and presentation skills to solve business problems.

She authored a chapter in Paid to Speak: Best Practices for Building a Successful Speaking Business, a book published in 2011 by the National Speakers Association, which includes chapters from speaking luminaries such as Nido Quebein, Lou Heckler and Glenna Salsbury.

Gilda is also a founding member of the World Class Indifference improv comedy team, which for the past seven years has performed comedy shows and taught classes in New York City and Connecticut. She incorporates improv techniques into her speaking, training and coaching, helping people learn to think quickly, be creative and develop confidence.

She also holds a master’s degree in history from Fordham University.

Monday, January 4, 2016

6 Mistakes to Avoid When Answering Questions

Questions2.jpgHow do you handle the questions that come up during or after your presentation?

Handled effectively, questions can be an important part of your presentation, allowing you to clarify a point, expand on your ideas or provide another example.  They also can demonstrate that the audience members were paying attention to you and are interested in your opinion.  Handled poorly, however, questions can expose your lack of preparation, disconnect you from your audience and derail your presentation.    

Read the six mistakes to AVOID when you are answering questions - here on my post on the Constant Contact Community blog: