Thursday, April 27, 2017

How to Present to Your Peers

Sometimes you have to present to a group of your peers.  And you may be speaking about something they know quite a bit about themselves. How do you come across as being knowledgeable and confident without sounding condescending and cocky?

You need to believe that you are qualified to give the presentation.  Start by understanding why you have been asked to give the presentation. 

What is it about your knowledge or experience that makes you the perfect person to deliver this presentation? Perhaps you led the project or know the client better.  (Yes, sometimes you are giving it just because nobody else wanted to do it.  But even in that case, you have earned the right to be presenting.)

Being clear about the reason ahead of time can help you focus and be more confident when you present in front of your peers, rather than being stuck in your head worrying, “Who am I to present? These people know more just as much – or more – than I do about this topic.” 

Once you cover this ground with yourself, you can focus on your material. Think about it from the audience’s point of view – what questions or concerns might they have? 

Then practice your presentation and focus on how you might be perceived by the audience.  Practice in front of a mirror or on camera.  In particular, be aware of your facial expressions and your tone.  Do you sound condescending, like you are lecturing at the audience?

Sometimes you intend to sound one way and you come across differently, so ask for feedback from a trusted colleague or coach.  There can be a subtle difference between a smile and smirk or between sounding confident and sounding cocky and it’s helpful to get feedback about it.

Preparing and practicing your presentation will help you be comfortable and confident when you're presenting to your peers. 

Enter Email:

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Gilda to Emcee Manhattanville Women's Leadership Institute 6/8

I am excited to be serving as the Emcee for this event: 

3rd Annual 
Women's Leadership Summit: Pursue Your Dreams

June 8, 2017 8:30 am to 5:00 pm
Networking reception from 5:00 to 6:00 pm
Reid Castle, Manhattanville College

Keynote speakers
Andrea Gilman, SVP, Business Transformation, MasterCard
Jennifer Howland, Executive, Pathways Program, IBM 

Professional Development Workshops
Don't Leave Home Without Your Leadership Roadmap
Presenter:  David Severance, Advanced Development Services
Fast Forward:  Know Your Power and Purpose
Presenter:  Kim Azzarelli, Seneca Point Global

Special Lunch Panel Discussion: Field of Dreams
Moderated by Heidi Fuhrman, JD, Board of Trustees 

Master of Ceremonies
Gilda Bonanno
Gilda Bonanno LLC

Audience: Professional women, corporate business leaders, women entrepreneurs, non-profit and government professionals, and friends
Early bird pricing $295 until May 8th, Regular pricing $395
Special pricing: $195 Manhattanville Community, Non-profit,
and Government Organizations

For information on Group Pricing and Summit Sponsorships

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Gilda to Emcee Women Owned Business Day at the State Capitol

I am delighted to once again serve as Emcee for Women Owned Business Day at the State Capitol in Hartford on May 3. 

The Women's Business Development Council's 4th Annual Women Owned Business Day, in Partnership with CTNext

House Republican Leader Themis Klarides and
Representative Patricia Billie Miller, Assistant Majority Leader, 145 District

Wednesday, May 3, 2017
9:15 AM - 12:00 PM
Legislative Office Building - Hartford, CT

Connect with the largest organization in CT dedicated to
women's economic equity.

  • Hear from national thought leaders on policy issues facing women business owners; 
  • Learn about the only Microloan Fund in Connecticut for women entrepreneurs
  • Meet with elected officials, community leaders and other entrepreneurs from across the state.
Glendowlyn Thames Executive Director CTNext
Esther Morales
Executive Director
Keynote Speaker

Join WBDC for an interactive, empowering 
discussion with key national and state 
leaders about the economic clout 
of women entrepreneurs.

"Women-owned businesses bring more than $15 million 
in annual revenues to Connecticut. Our wallets and our 
voices are important - we are helping to grow this state 
and our country's economy."
 - Fran Pastore, President & CEO WBDC

Pre-Registration Required/No Charge 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Answering Questions Without Losing Control of Your Time

Have you ever seen a speaker run out of time because he or she spent too much time answering very basic or very advanced questions that were irrelevant to most of the audience?

Here are five strategies to ensure that those very specific or largely irrelevant questions don't take up all of your presentation time:

1.  In the description about your presentation, set the expectations as to the level that you will focus on – beginner, intermediate, advanced – and then stick to it.  Remember that you are in control of the presentation and timing and it usually can't get out of control without your involvement.

Read the rest of my blog post on the Constant Contact Community blog:

Saturday, April 8, 2017

6 FAQs About How to Deliver Your Pitch Presentation with Slides

Raising money requires that entrepreneurs develop a high quality pitch that speaks to potential investors.  Many entrepreneurs struggle to tell their stories in an organized, focused and concise way that is meaningful to investors.  One area they often get tripped up is in how to present slides during their pitch. 

Here are answers to 6 frequently asked questions about how to deliver your pitch presentation with slides: 

1.     When my slides are projected onto a screen on the other side of the room from the investors, where should I face?
Since your goal is to communicate effectively to the investors, resist the urge to face the screen and instead, turn your body to face the live audience and speak directly to them.  Don’t make the common mistake of presenting to the screen rather than the audience.  (Yes, I’ve seen it happen!)

2.     Why is it important that I look at the investors more than the screen?
Eye contact helps you determine if the audience is attentive and if they understand your message.  It also expresses your respect for them and demonstrates your confidence, since you know the information without having to read it.

3.     What if I can't remember my content without reading my slides?
Practice is the best way to ensure that you remember your content.  Practice by standing up and saying the words out loud as you go through your slides, paying particular attention to how you transition from one slide to the next.  The goal is not to memorize every word, but to become comfortable enough with the material that you can say it several different ways without getting flustered. 

In addition to practicing, you can also position your laptop screen in your line of sight as a "confidence monitor" - so you can face the panel of investors and still glance at the slides on your laptop screen, which can help you remember what you want to say next.

4.     How much information should go on each slide?
Enough to convey your message, but probably not as much as you think. Don't write out your entire pitch presentation on your slides and then read it word for word to the investors; that would be incredibly boring and there would no need for a pitch meeting.  You could just send them the slides to read on their own.

The value of the pitch meeting for the investors is not just the content on your slides – it’s also getting the chance to meet you and hear you talk about your business.  You are the presentation; the slides are just there as visual aids. 

So make sure your slides support your overall story without being a distraction.  They should be easy to understand and follow rather than densely populated with tons of bullet points in small font or charts that are impossible to read.

5.     What if when I look at the audience, they're all looking at my slides on the screen?
Don’t allow yourself to be distracted by this.  The investors need time to read your slides (another reason why your slides shouldn't be too busy or hard to read) and if the slides are easy to digest, their attention will quickly return to you.  And use your words to walk them through the slide and navigate any chart or graph.

6.     Where should I stand?
Stand to the side of the screen so you don't block the investors’ view.  Also be careful not to stand in the way of the projector light so your silhouette doesn't appear on the screen.  Using a remote control will allow you to advance your slides without having to hover over the laptop.  Many remotes include laser pointers so you can highlight items on the slide if needed.

Delivering a pitch presentation with slides is not necessarily easy, but with preparation and practice, you can learn to deliver an effective presentation that educates the investors about your business and clearly explains why they should invest.

Gilda Bonanno LLC

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

NSA-CT Speaker Academy

Now taking registrations for CLASS OF 2018 (Feb-May)

Are you ready to take the next step in becoming a professional speaker? Want to move closer to qualifying as a member of the prestigious National Speakers Association?

NSA-CT is proud to provide national’s exclusive Speaker Academy Training right here in Connecticut! Join in…just one Saturday per month at the Mercy Center in Madison (lunch included!)- Feb -May.

Get ready to cultivate strong speaking skills, build a profitable speaking business and work toward obtaining your NSA membership eligibility.

All class modules are facilitated by veteran speakers, many of whom are past presidents of NSA-CT.

*All Academy students are granted a 16-month membership to the CT Chapter of NSA, during program (4 months) and for the 12 months immediately following their course completion.

For specific questions or inquiries, please contact Academy Dean, Lisa Lelas: (203) 641-4405 or email:

ACADEMY CURRICULUM: Saturday classes run 9 AM- 3 PM (Lunch included)
*Note: Attendance required at all sessions for certificate of completion

FEBRUARY: Welcome/orientation/professional awareness/Your message/Topic Development.

MARCH: Sales & Marketing/Professional relationships

APRIL: Presenting & Performing/Platform Mechanics

MAY : Authorship & Product Development/Managing your Speaking
Business/Wrap-up & Academy Recap

JUNE Chapter Meeting: Graduation Recognition! Please note that all NSA-CT Speaker Academy graduates are encouraged to attend the NSA-CT member chapter meeting (at no cost) in JUNE where they will be recognized during the annual awards meeting with their certificates of completion & invited to participate in the Speaker Showcase (presenting a 6-8 minute ‘Ted-like’ Talk for practice, feedback & testimonials)

TO REGISTER: Email: for current registration info
Reg rate of $1,297
Earlybird rate: $997 NOW thru Dec 31, 2017

Friday, March 31, 2017

Marist College to Honor Hannah Storm of ESPN 4/20


Join friends, colleagues, and celebrity guests 
from the worlds of media and sports in honoring
as she is presented with the

Thursday April 20, 2017
The Edison Ballroom
New York, NY

The Lifetime Excellence in Sports Communication Award will honor Hannah and raise funds for the Marist College Center for Sports Communication endowment.

Please call (845) 575-3283 for further information.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Gilda Interviewed on Westchester Talk Radio

Here is the link to my interview on Westchester Talk Radio, recorded at the Westfair Communication Family-Owned Business Awards, at which I was a sponsor.  

My interview is the first segment of the podcast recording. Interviewer and talk show host Bob Marrone asked about my business, how I help clients and how I got started as a speaker, trainer and coach.

Glda Bonanno LLC

Friday, March 24, 2017

Gilda on the faculty for Half the Sky Leadership Program for Women

I am proud to be on the faculty for the Half the Sky Leadership Program for Women, offered in both Philadelphia and Atlanta.

The Half The Sky leadership program is geared for women in leadership roles as professional individual contributors or middle managers who want to strengthen their leadership skills, business acumen and executive presence.

The program consists of six in-classroom sessions, interim connections and ongoing leadership development through alumnae forums. The program focuses on topics that build competencies on results, relationships, reputation and resilience.  I teach Executive Presentation Skills as part of Session 2. 

Half the Sky: A Program for Emerging Women Leaders
Register today for Fall Philadelphia! Session starts August 22nd.

Half The Sky participants learn essential competencies to significantly enhance how they function and grow as leaders, and they emerge with strategies and confidence to immediately impact the organizations for which they work in their current roles.

For more information or to register, visit

Monday, March 20, 2017

PayPal CLO to speak at 3/27 ATD Meeting in Norwalk CT


Monday, March 27th, 2017
The Case for Continuous Learning
Enablers and Mindsets
With Guest Speaker:
 Derek Hann
PayPal Chief Learning Office

PayPal is an American company operating a worldwide online payments system that supports online money transfers and serves as an electronic alternative to traditional paper methods like checks and money orders. PayPal was spun off from eBay in 2015.  PayPal Chairman and CEO, Dan Schulman, is striving to make PayPal a customer champion.  He envisions a company that focuses on various segments of the market and solves real problems for customers.
So, in 2015, Schulman hired Derek Hann as Chief Learning Officer to help him create a customer-focused culture.  We are privileged to hear directly from Derek how he and his team are doing this through the use of Continuous Learning.

According to a recent article written by Bersin by Deloitte, 1% of a typical workweek is all that employees have to focus on training and development.  Continuous Learning provides the opportunity to learn 24/7, whenever an employee has the time. It is a cornerstone to the transformation taking place in many organizations.

Derek manages his team as a Product Organization (being customer-focused and reacting quickly), aligning closely to the business’s priorities, expanding on the needs addressed, and using learning technologies more effectively.  Join this session to learn from Derek how he and his team utilize Continuous Learning to create:
  • A Learning function that behaves as a Product Organization.
  • Learning that attends to all learners’ needs.
  • Learning technologies that are built to purpose and scale.
  • Learning that focuses on enabling the business roadmap and priorities.
  • Learning that produces products and services that earn the trust and confidence of the business leadership.
About the Speaker:
As Chief Learning Officer for PayPal, Derek Hann is the global leader of Learning architecture, content, technology, and strategy.  Partnering with the Executive People Leadership Team, Derek serves as subject-matter expert for aligning PayPal's business priorities with the development of its people. Harnessing the full complement of past experience, including demonstrated business acumen and analytics, leading-edge technological sophistication, a proven mastery of learning theory, and a performance consulting and scientific inquiry orientation, Derek passionately pursues world-class Learning for the entire PayPal family.  

Derek has held HR and Learning leadership roles with Phillips, GE, Pitney Bowes, Alcoa, Heineken, and Citi and has served on The Conference Board Leadership Development Council, the American Management Association National Training Council, and the Corporate Executive Board’s Learning and Development Roundtable. A Six Sigma Black Belt and featured speaker at both ATD and SHRM conferences, Derek holds degrees from Providence College and Sacred Heart University.
Date:  Monday, March 27, 2017
Time: 5:45 PM Networking/Registration; 
6:15 PM Dinner and Program
Early Bird Registrations through Friday, 3/24, midnight:  $37 Chapter Members; $50 Guests;       $25 Members In-Transition; $20 Students
Regular Registrations and Walk-ins:  Member $45; Members In-Transition $35; Non-member $60
Reservation Deadline: Friday, March 24th, 2017
No refunds can be granted within 48 hours of event.
Meeting Location: Norwalk Inn and Conference Center, 99 East Avenue, Norwalk, CT

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Gilda to Present Personal Branding 3/23 at Danbury Chamber

Don't miss my Personal Branding Lunch & Learn Workshop at the Danbury Chamber of Commerce on March 23

Offered by The Women's Business Development Council (WBDC) in partnership with the Small Business Administration and the Danbury Chamber of Commerce

Gain insights that will help you move your business forward and knowledge that will help you secure a bright future. Enjoy your lunch while meeting others.  This is a great opportunity to expand your current business network.

The value of your brand should not be underestimated. Understand the principles that make can make a measurable business difference.
For entrepreneurs and small business owners, your personal brand is your corporate brand. The key to success is building a brand that positively impacts your business.

For more information or to register, visit 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

4 Ways NOT to Start Your Pitch Presentation

by Gilda Bonanno LLC
The first few minutes of your pitch presentation are some of the most important – when you have the opportunity to make a good first impression and capture the investors’ attention.  In those crucial few minutes, the audience will decide whether what you have to say is worth listening to, which will greatly impact their decision whether or not to invest in your business.

Here are 4 ways NOT to start your pitch presentation:

1.     With Ums, Ahs and a Whimper
 “Um, thanks for having me here at this, uh, pitch meeting.  It’s, uh, a great, um, opportunity for my, uh, business, which is, ah, called, Acme Widgets.  And, uh, I guess I, um, will just start by, uh, telling you a little bit, um, about the, uh, business….”

Don’t waste precious time at the start of your presentation meandering into your topic and over- using ums, ahs and pause words.  You’ll bore the investors and come across as less than confident.  Instead, jump right into your content with a strong, enthusiastic, attention-getting opening that engages the audience immediately.  Practice delivering it with confidence and a minimum of distracting pause words. 

2.     Doing a Sound Check
“Can you hear me in the back?”
While it’s crucial to ensure the investors can hear you, the start of your presentation is not the time to do it.  If you’re truly concerned about voice volume, practice in the room before your presentation and have someone stand at the back of the room to determine if they can hear you. If you know you speak softly, then request a microphone and if one is not available, make a point of speaking louder. 

If you’re still worried about your volume, have someone stand behind the investors or at the back of the room and give you a signal at the start of your presentation to let you know if you can be heard easily.  (And by the way, logically, if people can’t hear you, they also can’t hear you ask, “can you hear me?”)

3.     Admitting You’re Unprepared
“I didn’t get a chance to finish preparing this presentation…”
Prepare your presentation ahead of time.  Don’t insult your audience by showing up with a half-baked presentation that you threw together that morning.  It hardly inspires the type of confidence in you that will encourage them to pull out their check books and invest in your business. 

And even if for some unexpected reason, you didn’t have time to finish preparing the presentation, don’t advertise your lack of preparation or start or with a list of excuses about being too busy to prepare. 

4.     Boring the Audience
“I know this is not as exciting as some other businesses, so I’ll try my best not to put you to sleep.”
Even if you don’t come right out and make this statement, your lackluster body language, monotone voice and lack of eye contact will broadcast it loud and clear to the investors.  If you can’t muster up enough enthusiasm about your business to start on a positive and energetic note, there’s no hope that the investors will be interested enough to want to hear more about it.  It’s your responsibility to explain why your product or service is important and interesting, however complex or simple it is to understand. 

Remember, the pitch presentation is not just a chance for investors to learn about the nuts and bolts of your business, it’s also an opportunity for them to meet you.  Prepare and practice a captivating and energetic opening to make a good first impression and draw the investors into the story of your business.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Perfect combination of professionalism and humor

"Gilda did an incredible job engaging our alumni with the perfect combination of professionalism and humor. Our group found her to be refreshing and energetic. I walked away with useful tips that I applied in my working environment the very next day, and will continue to keep her advice in mind in future professional interactions. The alumni office at Marist College is looking forward to continuing our relationship with Gilda with additional events in the future." 
Lisa Lombardo, Associate Director, Alumni and Donor Programs

To bring Gilda to your organization to speak, please visit 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Storytelling at Work: 3/20 ASTD So. CT Meeting

Monday, March 20, 2017

Story Telling at Work
(How to tug at heart to sell your idea)
With Guest Speaker 
Ann Marie Morris,
President of 
As learning professionals, we need to create training that sticks and that gains the support and budget we need for our work. Training should provide experiences that not only tug at the heart strings, but also tug at the purse strings.  We all remember our favorite childhood stories, such as The Cat in the Hat.  There, we rooted for the hero, laughed at his antics, and held our breath as he wreaked havoc.  Others, such as Little Red Riding Hood, left us spellbound with its threats and rescues.  All these stories grabbed our imaginations and taught us life lessons.

Stories retain their magic for adults, and make learning come alive, as they motivate and instruct. Come to our session and learn how to use a story to create engaging learning, or to sell your idea, product or service to your client, boss or even a reluctant spouse. 

By the end of this program, participants will be able to:
• Learn the three steps for any great story
• Tell an old story a new way
• Craft a story that tugs at heart strings and purse strings

Ann Marie Morris is President of Train-Your-Talent, an L&D consulting firm based in NYC.  Her 20 years of experience has encompassed an array of industry sectors covering financial services, media, entertainment, technology the non-profit sector and start-ups.  Clients have included JPMorgan Chase, Credit Suisse, Sony Music, Fairway and Interpublic. Ann's specialties include training, talent mobility, career pathing, executive coaching, team-building, succession planning and employee engagement. An engaging and dynamic speaker, she has served as the VP for The HR Alliance and on the Board of The OD Network of NY, along with being active in SHRM and ATD.
Date:  Monday, March 20, 2017
Time: 5:45 PM Networking/Registration
6:15 PM Dinner and Program
Early Bird Registrations through Friday, 3/17, midnight:  $37 Chapter Members; $50 Guests;       $25 Members In-Transition; $20 Students
Regular Registrations and Walk-ins:  Member $45; Members In-Transition $35; Non-member $60
Reservation Deadline: Friday, March 17th, 2017
No refunds can be granted within 48 hours of event.
Meeting Location: Norwalk Inn and Conference Center, 99 East Avenue, Norwalk, CT

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Interactive, used humor & got audience members involved

"Gilda Bonanno presented a personal branding session that we (Center for Women & Business at Quinnipiac University) co-sponsored with the CT Women’s Business Development Council. To sum it up in one word, she was outstanding. 

Gilda provided an interactive presentation that engaged all who attended. Her ability to use humor while imparting valuable tips on developing a personal brand was a great way to get audience members involved. The common feedback from attendees was that they wished Gilda’s presentation was longer. We would not hesitate to recommend Gilda. Her passion and knowledge are truly motivating."
-Professors Kathleen Simione, Judy Gedge and Trish Kelly, Center for Women & Business at Quinnipiac University Leadership Team

Gilda Bonanno LLC 

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Gilda to present at Yale Entrepreneurial Institute 2/28/17

Personal branding defines you to the community and allows you to be perceived as the go-to expert. Now you can learn how to build your brand through clear and consistent in-person communication and gain the principles you need to apply to social media too!
Join WBDC’s communication expert, Gilda Bonanno, and learn how to:
  • Identify what makes you unique and communicate that to others
  • Overcome the fear of speaking with confidence about yourself
  • Use powerful body language to connect to your audience
  • Develop memorable content that helps set you apart from the crowd

Pre-Registration Required/No Charge
*** This program is being offered in partnership with the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute as part of the Yale Women Innovators Series.***


New Haven


Tuesday, February 28, 2017


8:30 am - 9:30 am


Yale Entrepreneurial Institute


254 Elm Street, 3rd Floor