Higher Speech
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Thursday, August 19, 2010
Have you heard of the Speaker's Workout?

Are you willing to do what it takes to become better as a presenter? In the words of Goethe, "Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do."

Gym workout like speaking workoutOne of the things you can do is to work out. If you were preparing for a triathlon, you'd be putting some serious time in at the gym, wouldn't you? Similarly, there are exercises that will help improve your speaking ability. They may or may not be fun for you, depending on how weird you are. These can be done with material you would actually be using in your presentation, or with other material. The main thing is: they work!


Speaking quickly and articulately1) Speed Demon: Practice your material speaking (either from memory or reading) as fast as you can while articulating clearly. Do not slur the words. Make each syllable distinct. This will help improve your clarity when you speak, and will make it more comfortable for you to not only speak more quickly when you need to, but to be able to vary your rate of speaking - which will make you more easy to listen to.

Change your speaking style2) The Change Up: When we speak, we naturally speed up, slow down, and pause. Otherwise, we put people to sleep, or simply lose them. This exercise involves noticing where to speed up, slow down, and pause, and exaggerating it to the max. Consider a scale from 0-10; zero being dead and 10 being so far over the top that people would be running from the room wondering what drugs you'd been taking. Five would be ideal; not too much, not too little. For this exercise, get as close to a 10 as possible. Please note: in coaching hundreds of people in workshops and private sessions, I RARELY hear anyone get close to a 10. Many people do not even go over a "5." Be outrageous with this one. Give yourself permission to go "over the top." What this does, is to make it easier to hit that "perfect 5" more consistently. It also tends to make it easier for you to add more variety and interest to the way you speak. Try it - it really works.

Use both exercises, and you will like what they do for you. Yes, it is a bit of a workout, but it's worth it. The best part of it is that by practicing these simple exercises, not only will you be more effective as a presenter, your audiences will be more attentive to your message - and both you and them will have more fun.

Let me know how these work for you.


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Thursday, August 12, 2010
It's all about conversation! . . . or it it?

I bet you've heard many times that a speech should be a conversation. Some presenters agree with that, and some don't. Whether we like it or not, however, successful speaking involves conversation. If we ignore that, we will die on stage. Neither we, nor our audience wants that to happen.

Personal ConversationThere are many kinds of conversation that take place with every presentation. When you talk about a bad day you once had, and some of your audience nod — that is a conversation. When you ask for a volunteer, and get one — that is a conversation. The title of this post is a conversation.   Your audience members will constantly have conversations going on within their heads as you speak. Those are conversations you can't control, but you can influence them. Based on that influence, those "internal" conversations will determine the success or failure of your presentations because they are what connect you to your audience. Your message will only be "taken home" by people if they connect with you.

When you recall (and share) a conversation you had previously — or one you might have in the future, or even put into words what the audience is (or may be) thinking — those are all ways to use conversation. How you use these conversations, how often you use them, and when you use them are all up to you — and should be considered in light of your particular audience.

The most important thing to remember is this: If you were in your audience, what would you prefer — to listen to someone else's speech or to participate in a conversation? Your audience will probably have the same preference. In fact, you can bet on it.

That's all for today. Let me know how things are going for you and your presentations. Thanks for listening, and please stay in touch! I'd love to hear from you.

Datta Groover Best regards,

Datta Groover, Presentation Skills Coach

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Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Questions and Credibility

The QuestionAs a presenter, have you ever had the "recurring nightmare" that someone asks you a question, and you don't know the answer? Could you imagine that happening to you? Has it already happened?

When it does, it doesn't have to be a disaster, or even difficult. It can be as easy as saying "Great question. I don't know the answer to that, but I will find out and get back to you. See me afterward so I can get your contact information." If that is not appropriate, then at least admit that you don't know the answer.

What will happen if you do that? Will you lose credibility? In truth, some may judge you for it. Especially since as presenters, we are usually being counted on to be the "experts." Here's the hard news: People will know if we bluff. They may only know it as a "feeling," but they will know.

Pretend you have an audience of 100 people, and consider two possible scenarios. In the first scenario, you tell them you don't know the answer to a certain question. Say 13 (a number I just pulled out of thin air) of that audience judge you in some way for not knowing the answer when you "should." The other 82 members of the audience (we'll pretend 5 happen to be asleep) find you more credible because you admit that 1) you're not trying to pretend you are perfect the way so many other people do, 2) you are confident, and mostly 3) you are a person they can trust. The trust and credibility you gain in this scenario is realand substantial.

In scenario 2, say you bluff cleverly, with great expertise and finesse. Half the people in the room may not notice, but (at least) half will have a feeling that something is not quite right. You may have gained some trust or credibility with the half that thinks that you know the answer, but will lose trust with the second half. The slight amount of credibility you do gain with the first half will evaporate like windshield wiper fluid on a hot summer's day when they find out the inevitable contradictory information, or when their sense of intuition kicks in -- whichever comes first.

Which scenario would you rather have? 

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Wednesday, June 2, 2010
The value of presenting more naturally

Have you ever noticed that some of your best presentations may have been the ones you prepared for the least? Sounds backwards, doesn't it?

If you have ever given a presentation that has to be just "so," and took a lot of practice for it to be exactly the way you want, the biggest problem you may have after lots and lots of practice is that it looks too "rehearsed" or "polished."

You may think being polished is good, but in truth only one thing is good: your audience connecting to - and relating to - you and your message. If you are too polished, that connection won't happen - you will instead create a separation between you and your audience. So what's a presenter to do?

The first thing to do is to focus on your audience, and how they will benefit from what you have to say. The opposite of this is to focus on what will make you look good. My friend Tony recently shared with me that he imagines there is one person somewhere in the audience who really needs to hear his message (maybe it's a matter of life and death), but he doesn't know which audience member it is.

He then has a conversation with all the members of the audience, connecting with them individually as far as possible in order to reach that one person at the very least. One way to practice presenting in a more natural way, is to give your presentation sitting at the kitchen table, talking to a close friend (or at least pretending a friend is there). Taking it one step further, practice while eating a meal. Just making it very informal and conversational is powerful. The more you practice it that way, the better it will be when you deliver it.

Try being more natural and conversational when you present. You may already do that - consider trying even harder. I think you will like it. Remember that there is a range of how naturally we deliver - and typically we may be at different places within that range on different days. Work toward more consistently natural presentations, and you will not only be more effective as a presenter, your audiences will be happier and will take away more of what you have to offer.

Let me know how this works for you. If you already work towards being more natural as a goal, let me know that, too. I'd love to hear from you either way.

Please email me with any questions you may have. Whatever you do, keep improving.

~Datta Groover

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Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Just Drop It Into Neutral

When someone gives feedback about speaking, how often have you heard “That was great - just add a little more vocal variety,” or “your gestures could be more dynamic,” or “try moving more on stage”? When offered at the right time, in the right way, to the right person, any of the above can be appropriate, or even excellent advice. We’ve definitely seen our share of speakers who need some (or all) of those tips. No one wants to hear a speaker who doesn’t have enthusiasm for their topic, or even worse, who seems determined to put their audience straight to sleep. I think it would be safe to say that is an area in which we all agree.

On the other hand, have you ever heard a speaker who is so unceasingly dynamic, they make you want to jump up and say "Hey, could you just relax?" Always dynamic is not dynamic. When a presenter is always in "dynamic speaker mode," they are not only tiring to listen to, they may come across as less then genuine. Neither of those results is a worthy goal for someone who wants to be an effective speaker.

What's a speaker to do? I'm glad you asked, because the solution is simple. All you need to do is occasionally "drop it into neutral," and add no dynamic inflection at all. That will make the times when you do use dynamics far more effective, as it will leverage those dynamics.

"Dropping into neutral" can work best when you make your most important point. This can seem somewhat counter-intuitive to those used to making points while increasing their dynamic level, but it does work.

Don’t take my word for it. Try it with your next speech, and ask someone in the audience whom you trust how it worked for them.

It is said that variety is the spice of life. That is especially true for speeches and other presentations. "Dropping into neutral" gives you that extra variety. The hardest part may be breaking the “always dynamic” habit. By all means, be dynamic, enthusiastic, and energetic. Then occasionally “drop it into neutral” and see how well it works. Just don’t stay there all the time.

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010
An easy and effective way to be a better presenter

There are a lot of ways to become a more effective presenter. The one I'm going to share with you today is absolutely critical. You will never get past a certain point in your presentation effectiveness unless you do it. If you use it, you will improve - no matter how good you are right now.

Here it is: Record yourself every chance you get. Depending upon the situation, use video when possible, or use a pocket-sized audio recorder. Even if you are speaking at a "Leads" group, a PTA meeting, or at your local chamber of commerce for 2 or 3 minutes, at least audio-record yourself. If you are presenting, video yourself. That is Step One. Step Two is to listen to or watch it after you record it, with an eye for improvement. Note: A lot of people do Step One only. This process ONLY works if you do Step Two as well.
Flip Video Camera
Having the right equipment is crucial. One of the best tools I ever bought was my Flip Video camera. Yes, most of us have camcorders. But who wants to go to the trouble to set them up? They also attract a lot more attention than the Flip, which is only slightly bigger than a cell phone. It works wonderfully with a small (5 inch tall) table tripod. It's small enough to fit in your pocket, purse, or carry-bag, and therefore more likely to be taken along when you go somewhere. I found that while I intended to record all my presentations with my camcorder, I rarely actually did that. In practice, I use the Flip Video because 1) it sets up in seconds, 2) it's inconspicuous, and 3) I can download it later to my computer in minutes (while charging it at the same time).

The best part is that it is pretty inexpensive. You can get a Flip Video camera for between $90 and $180 (US$Sony Digital Video Camera) depending upon features. I recommend the rechargeable model (which will charge when you plug it into your computer, and is very convenient). Sony and Creative Labs make similar models. I suggest you look at online reviews to see what is best for you, and walk into an electronics store in your area that carries them to see how they actually work.
Olympus Digital Voice recorder
Digital audio recorders are cheaper than ever, and you can find them starting at around $25. I recommend getting one with features you want (and better sound quality) but it still shouldn't cost more than $50 or $60.

I highly recommend both the audio and video recorders. They have different uses, and are both valuable. An added bonus of recording yourself is that you now have material you can use on your website, or to produce a CD or DVD that you can either sell or to "demo" your work.

Video feedback is so important that we now video every participant in our speaking workshops (and send the participants the results).

Please email me with any questions you may have. Whatever you do, keep improving.

~Datta Groover

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Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Guaranteed to boost your communication effectiveness -

The most effective presentations consist of 3 essential elements that must intersect. Most presentations have at least one, many have two of these elements, but very few have all three.

3-WayThe first element is to share what you are passionate about - what you care about, what drives you - basically what is meaningful for you.

The second element is to give your audience what they want. That usually means some mixture of entertainment, information, and inspiration. You can ask people what they want ahead of time. What a concept! What would happen if you asked people in your Toastmasters club what they would like to see in your next speech (for them, not necessarily for you).

With rare exception, people want some degree of entertainment, so assume they do even if they don't say it.

The third element is to give your audience what they need. To be most effective, it's important to look more deeply into what people's needs are, and to the best of your ability, meet those needs. For example, say you are asked to give a talk that will motivate a group of salespeople to increase their results. That is a want of the people hiring you, and hopefully the sales people themselves. Their need (which they may not even be aware of) might be to look at how inter-office politics affect their over-all morale, and consequently their results. To find people's needs, you might have to do some digging - but they can always be found, and it is always worth it.

A good real-life example of the intersection of these three elements is 3-WayBill Cosby. His humor addresses people's wants. His messages within that humor addresses their needs for higher understanding and growth, and his own passion for his topics make it all come together.

The intersection of these three elements is what will make your presentations successful, every time.

Don't forget - the more you practice, the more effective you will be, and the more these tips will become second nature to you (which roughly translates to "the more you do it, the easier it gets").

I trust this finds you steadily increasing in your skill as a speaker and presenter. Let me know how you're doing - I'd love to hear from you.

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Higher Speech is a quality training organization for speakers, presenters, trainers, and coaches.

Higher Speech is also dedicated to providing quality speakers who are experts in their fields and are dedicated to inspiring others and making a positive difference in the world.

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The Mission of
Higher Speech


To provide quality speakers who are dedicated to making a positive difference in the world.
2) To help others reach their next level of communication; enhancing their work, their relationships, and their lives.
3) To assist organizations in reaching the communication level they desire - and in doing so increasing their over-all effectiveness, efficiency, and profits.

The History of
Higher Speech

Higher Speech was founded in 2004 by Datta Groover in the Rogue Valley of Southern Oregon. He realized that as much as he had to offer others, by bringing others on board with their own unique specialties and strengths, there is far more to offer the world at large together than what we can all do separately.

The name "Higher Speech" was chosen because it says what we are all about. In the history of our planet, "Higher Speech" is what has always made the most positive and long-lasting influences.

About Datta

Datta Groover's goal is to inspire others to improve their level and quality of communication, helping lives work better personally and professionally. He offers public-sector workshops on Communication and Public speaking, as well as workshops within the corporate world.

He has authored 4 books, both fiction and non-fiction, is a professional member of both the The National Speakers Association, and of The Author's Guild. Datta has published numerous articles, and worked for many years as the content and style editor for Torchlight Publishing.

He has been speaking in professional circles since the mid-1980s when he chaired the International Committee for Self-Sufficiency, and has spoken in Europe, India, Africa, South America, and North America (and not just to ask for directions).

He works primarily as a fee-paid speaker, though is always happy to lend his services to a worthy cause.  His primary area of speaking centers around personal communication, both within the business environment and in people’s personal lives.  His speaking style is simple, direct, entertaining, and from the heart.   

Datta & Rachael Jayne GrooverDatta is a motivational speaker and is hired frequently by speakers, authors, and trainers who want to improve their presentation and communication skills. He lives with his wife Rachael Jayne in Fort Collins, Colorado.