Wednesday, April 20, 2016
10:00 am – 2:30 pm

Microsoft New England Research and Development
(NERD) Center
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
1 Memorial Dr #1,
Cambridge, MA 02142


Communicating with Confidence

Gilda Bonanno Speaker, Trainer and Coach

Gilda Bonanno kicked off the day with her keynote on the 3 aspects of communication.

  1. Developing & Demonstrating
  2. Words & Body Language
  3. Planning & Preparation
Pictured Gilda Bonanno

Pictured Gilda Bonanno

Gilda reminded us that communication skills are just skills. You can learn it, practice it, get, feedback on it, grow with it.

Own who you are. Do not allow the “joy sucker” voice inside your head allow to take over.

Confidence doesn’t mean you are better than anyone. It means “I know what I am talking about, I am prepared. I feel good about who I am. I earned my place at the table. I am ready.”

Be aware of how your body language is communicating confidence:

  1. use eye contact
  2. stand or sit up straight
  3. don’t forget to smile

When you are giving a virtual presentation you have to remember people can’t see you, your voice is everything. You need to be more awake, more energizing, more clear with your voice.

Be aware of up talk (where everything sounds like a question). If you have an idea, say, “I have an idea.” Say it and end it with a period.

When introducing yourself, don’t use language that minimized who you are. “I’m just a….”  Say “I am this…” or “I do this…” Work on your language.

Make sure you prepare for a presentation. Have a “dress rehearsal”. Practice in the room you will be presenting in if possible. Wear the close you are going to wear. Practice the presentation out loud. Get comfortable with your material so you hit your key points. Know your opener, key points, transitions, conclusions and and prepare for questions.

Gilda recommended Grace Killelea’s book “The Confidence Effect”.

To Your Health

Shannon Piers Associate Manager of HR Wellness, ESPN

Next, Shannon Piers led the “To Your Health” session. Shannon lead a controlled breathing session to help de-stress our bodies and minds.

Pictured Shannon Piers

Pictured Shannon Piers

Prepare and Perserve Panel

Our “Prepare and Persevere Panel” was lead by moderator Tracy Pitcher Comcast, and included Sarina Morales ESPN, Eileen Weinberg Time Warner Cable,Laura Brubaker Crisco Comcast, Chap Hanley Atlantic Broadband.  Everyone passed along advice they have learned and mistakes they have made in preparing to be better communicators.

Pictured L to R Chap Hanley, Laura Brubaker Crisco, Eileen Weinberg, Sarina Morales, Tracy Pitcher

Pictured L to R Chap Hanley, Laura Brubaker Crisco, Eileen Weinberg, Sarina Morales, Tracy Pitcher

Here is some advice our panel shared:

Prepare for everything. Go in with a goal. Make a list of the 3-5 things you want to cover.

Know the person you are communicating to and adjust to their communication style.  Know your environment and the current situation.

One of the biggest mistakes you can make during a presentation is the “slide read”. When you are presenting you want to tell a story. Visual slides can be important, but don’t put everything on the slide.

Pay attention to your audience. Get your audience involved and connect with them.


Have your elevator speech prepared, but don’t be too scripted.

Try and remember one tiny nugget of someone’s personal self.

Improve classes can help you to be better prepared for off the cuff questions/conversations.

WICT New England was also live tweeting during the event. Follow @WICTNewEngland on


Gilda Bonanno
Speaker, Trainer and Coach

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.

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 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).


Tracy Pitcher
Senior Vice President, Greater Boston Region, Comcast

Tracy Pitcher

Tracy Pitcher serves as Senior Vice President of the Comcast Greater Boston Region.  In this role, Tracy is the company’s top executive responsible for the customer experience for more than 1.8 million Comcast customers in more than 300 communities in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine.  She oversees all of Comcast’s operations in the region, including sales, customer service, network engineering, programming, technical operations and community investment.

In her former role as Senior Vice President of SMB Operations for Comcast Business Services, Tracy oversaw the strategic direction and organizational effectiveness of Service Delivery, Technical Operations and Care across all Divisions for all customer segments.

Tracy joined Business Services in January 2011 from the former East Division where she served as Vice President of Customer Operations since September 2009. Prior to Comcast, she held the role of Vice President, Customer Operations for Charter Communications and positions of increasing leadership and responsibility with AT&T Broadband,

Time Warner Cable, Comcast and Thomson Consumer Electronics.

Tracy graduated from WICT’s Betsy Magness Leadership Institute and was recognized as one of 2008’s “40 under 40” by MultiChannel News. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana.


Sarina Morales
Commentator, ESPN

Sarina Morales

Sarina Morales joined ESPN in January 2015 as a contributor to SportsCenter and ESPN across all platforms. In February, 2016, she was named as part of the team for the launch of SportsCenter:AM, the 7 a.m. ET edition of SportsCenter.

In addition to appearing on-camera with the program’s anchors, Morales is very active on social media platforms during the three-hour SportsCenter:AM, bringing her perspective to stories and presenting them in her unique style, appealing to younger sports fans yet resonating with all ESPN viewers and moving them to engage with the ESPN brand in a variety of ways through different media.

Prior to joining ESPN, Morales was at National Geographic in social media marketing, managing the Nat Geo Channel and Nat Geo Wild social pages, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and show specific pages (2013-14). Previously she served as Digital Marketing and Integrated Brand Strategy Coordinator at Turner Broadcasting, where she provided support for all of truTV’s digital initiatives (2012-13).

Morales gained national attention by winning a contest to be the 2009 Nike Field Reporter. The role had her responsible for providing original content for and reporting and blogging live and produced interviews, including those with Olympians when she created daily content for and at the 2010 Winter Games.

The Bronx, N.Y. native graduated from Syracuse University in 2008 with a B.S. in Broadcast Journalism from the Newhouse School of Public Communication. At Syracuse she was president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.

Eileen Weinberg
Director of Brand Strategy, Time Warner Cable

Eileen Weinberg

Eileen Weinberg is the Director of Brand Strategy for Time Warner Cable Business Class (TWCBC). She works across audience segments providing strategic input and guidance to internal marketing teams ensuring all messages and material under the TWCBC brand are cohesive and consistent. Her efforts have positively impacted the overall brand, helping to increase visibility and awareness.

Eileen has worked in high-tech marketing for over 20 years. Prior to her focus on brand strategy, she was the director of marketing communications. She was responsible for overseeing the international public relations program, staying on top of trends in the market place, and developing comprehensive lead generation programs that ultimately lead to a 25% increase in leads.

Outside of work, Eileen is an avid yogi, an adventure traveler and volunteers with her pooch and partner in crime, Phoebe, visiting nursing homes. She graduated from SUNY Albany and currently lives outside of Boston.

Laura Brubaker Crisco
Senior Director of Public Relations-WNE, Comcast

Laura Brubaker Crisco

Laura Brubaker Crisco serves as the Senior Director of Public Relations for Comcast’s Western New England Region.  In this role she is responsible for developing and implementing public relations strategies that position Comcast as a technology leader in the marketplace and showcase the company’s products and services and corporate philanthropy. Crisco also serves as a company spokesperson and oversees external communications and social media for the region, ensuring unified messaging and brand consistency.

Crisco previously worked for Madison Square Garden where she served as the Director of Public Relations and oversaw all public and community relations functions as well as broadcasting for the company in Connecticut, including operation of the Hartford Civic Center, Rentschler Field and the Hartford Wolf Pack AHL Hockey Club.  Crisco began her career working for French botanical beauty leader Yves Rocher, where she served as a Senior Publicist for the company in the US and Canadian markets.

Crisco earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Speech Communications – Public Relations from Millersville University in Pennsylvania and is currently completing her Master of Arts degree in Integrated Communication from the University of Hartford. She resides in West Hartford, Connecticut, with her husband and their son.

Chap Hanley
Vice President and General Manager, Connecticut, Atlantic Broadband

Chap Hanley

Chap is an experienced strategist and leader with over 30 years of experience in the industry. Chap is focused on customer experience, developing operational excellence and streamlining processes as drivers of revenue improvement. Chap builds teams that deliver a superior customer experience to drive growth, loyalty and raving fans.

Chap joined the WICT New England board in 2016 in the role of Executive Outreach Ambassador.