Do It Myself Blog – Glenda Watson Hyatt

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Can’t Stop Me: Rock n Roll Singers Provide a Roadmap for My Motivational Speaking Career

Filed under: Motivation — by Glenda at 2:51 pm on Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Rod Stewart in concert at GM Place Stadium, Vancouver, August at 2009Over the years, various songs have been anthems or theme songs for my life. These tunes either mark milestones or help me navigate something I am going through.

My current theme song is Rod Stewart’s Can’t Stop Me.

Why does Rod’s song about how he got started in his singing career bring me to tears as I launch my motivational speaking career?

Back in my early years at university, I spent my second summer semester “learning how to use the microfilm and the microfiche in the library just in case I needed to use that technology to research a paper” – yes, I am that old! And, really, there wasn’t much else to do during simmer semesters atop Burnaby Mountain.

Actually, I was searching for anything and everything I could find about Rod Stewart, who I had fallen in love with during the 1989 American Music Awards. Yes, i was also a late bloomer! My excuse: I was raised on country music.

Print outs of magazine articles with post-it notes neatly attached

I spent a small fortune on printing that summer. I also neatly typed each article reference on post-it notes; obviously I had more “free” time back then. I even wrote to his record company, requesting 8×10 glossies.

But I digress.

I became fascinated with his career, particularly how he got started; how Long John Baldry discovered Rod while he was playing harmonica in a train station late one night (not seeing Long John perform while he was living in the area is one of my few regrets), and how, by fluke, a radio disc jockey played Side B and Maggie May launched Rod into stardom:

I was singing in the pubs
Was singing in the clubs
Then along came Maggie May

~ Lyrics from Rod Stewart’s Can’t Stop Me

Around the same time I also had a subscription to Rolling Stone magazine. Grabbing a newly-arrived issue and a cold can of Coke and heading to the spot just above the football practice field was one of my few opportunities to read something other than boring university textbooks. I was intrigued with the behind-the-scenes side of the music industry; how the formation of bands was rather fluid and intertwined was fascinating.  

At that time, my fantasy was to become a rocker chick with a searing electric guitar, but, sadly, this white gimp chick has no rhythm. My somewhat-more-realistic dream job was some kind of clerical or office position at the Little Mountain Studios – a local studio where big names like Aerosmith, Bon Jovi, Bryan Adams and many others came to record. I was devastated when the studio suddenly closed; that dream died before I had the opportunity to even pursue it.

I am the kind of concert-goer, when I can afford to go, who enjoys arriving early to watch the last minute set up. And then, afterwards, while I am waiting for the crowd to thin out before I head toward the exit, I watch how quickly the roadies dismantle the lighting and stage:

Now the seats are all empty
Let the roadies take the stage
Pack it up and tear it down
They’re the first to come and last to leave
Working for that minimum wage
They’ll set it up in another town

~ Lyrics from Jackson Browne’s The Load Out / Stay

Ever since beginning to entertain the thought of exploring the possibility of becoming a professional speaker, I have felt an affinity with the careers of singers. Those who have paid their dues by playing the smoky backrooms and who have worked their way up, until they finally got  their lucky start. Not like many of the performers today who gain, what seems like, instant fame.

As I see it, the singer and the speaker does the same thing: move, touch, motivate, inspire, educate, rally, entertain. The only difference is one puts the words to music.

The careers of these old rock n rollers – and country singers, too – have kindly provided me with the roadmap for my speaking career. I am willing (and have been doing) to speak to those groups in small, back rooms, in exchange for “a token of our appreciation”. Those gigs are affording me the opportunities to find my voice as a motivational speaker.

The way I present using a text-to-speech app on my iPad and my “uniqueness in movement” (particularly when I am nervous) doesn’t really fit the image of what a motivational speaker looks like. I totally relate to Rod’s beginnings:

"We can’t sign you, son
‘Cause you don’t fit in the mould.
It’s your hair and your nose and your clothes."
I said, "Thank you gentlemen
For this opportunity.
Now move on down the road."

In time, with enough practice, enough massaging of my message, enough confidence in finding my stage presence, my Long John Baldry or my Maggie May will come along.

They can’t stop me now
The world is waiting
It’s my turn to stand out in the crowd
They can’t stop me now
The tide is turning
I’m gonna make you proud

If you enjoyed this post, consider buying me a cafe mocha. Thanks kindly.

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An iPad and Proloquo4Text for Delivering Acoustic Presentations: The Review

Filed under: Living with a disability — by Glenda at 4:42 pm on Friday, June 13, 2014

Glenda delivering a presentation using the Proloquo4Text app on her iPad In May, I had the opportunity to deliver two presentations. In both instances, I used the text-to-speech Proloquo4Text app on my iPad.

And, wow! That was much easier, much less cumbersome than using the old way in PowerPoint.

The first presentation,  titled “From Speech Impairment to Motivational Speaker: How I Got From There to Here”, was based on much I have written here on my blog. Creating this presentation looked like:

  • Writing: 5.25 hours (not including the time my friend Karen spent editing)
  • Creating the  PowerPoint with only photos: 2 hours
  • Importing into Proloquo4Text: .5 hour
  • Tweaking and practicing: 2.75 hours

The total time for creating this “acoustic” presentation was a mere 9.5 hours for a 25-30 minute presentation. The old way took 50+ hours to create a presentation of roughly the same length. By the time I was ready to go with my iPad, I was in tears; tears of joy!

I felt (and still feel) a huge weight has been lifted off of me. I no longer need to spend an inordinate amount of time on the mind-numbing process of creating my presentations in PowerPoint. Rather I can now focus on what I love doing: writing and developing my message, my story, that I wish to share with my audiences.

For the first presentation, I created a basic PowerPoint with photos, like many speakers do. As a reminder to myself when to advance the slides, I changed the background colour (to green) of the applicable text blocks (on the left). This visual cue worked great.

Screen shot of Proloquo4Text on the iPad

The one challenge that I found was when I attempted a "tap and hold" to speak a text block, the text was not reliably spoken. In those moments, I would then do a “tap” to have the text appear in the text pad (the blue area of the right), tap “play” and then “delete” once it was done speaking that chunk of text. I don’t know whether that bug was because my hold wasn’t long enough or wasn’t steady enough, or whether it was the user, the iPad, the app or a combination thereof. But it is not a big enough challenge to dissuade me and I am confident there will be a fix or workaround in the near future.

My second presentation was totally “acoustic”. Just me and my iPad. No PowerPoint. No wifi. No curtain to hide behind.

Even though I was nervous, which is normal for nearly every professional speaker, this is all feeling so right. Speaking is what I am meant to do at this point in my life.

Now that I know the technology works in this kind of situation and I have more flexibility and choice than I did with the way I used PowerPoint, I am more ready than ever to put myself out there as a motivational speaker; to call myself a professional speaker.

If you have an audience looking for a unique motivational message, I am now scheduling for summer and early fall.

From significant speech impairment to motivational speaker…what a ride this is!


For more of information about my speaking, please visit my speaker site.

If you enjoyed this post, consider buying me a cafe mocha. Thanks kindly.

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An iPad and Proloquo4Text Creates an Acoustic Method for Delivering Presentations

Filed under: Motivation — by Glenda at 3:23 pm on Monday, April 14, 2014

Glenda using her iPadEver since buying my original iPad and, even more so, since my iPad Air, I have wondered if I could use the device to deliver a presentation.

Other people have been asking me if I use my iPad while delivering presentations.

Thanks to the fairly newly released app Proloquo4Text (P4T) – a solely text-based communication app – I think I can finally answer, ”Yes!”

With this app, I can enter text as phrases, sentences or paragraphs and, then, with one tap, my iPad will speak that text.

Screen shot of Proloquo4Text app

Unfortunately, the voice of Kate – the synthesized voice that I use in all of my presentations and feels like my voice – is not (yet?) available in the P4T app. But that isn’t really a big deal, right?

However, the good news is the text is easy to edit and to rearrange, which means that making changes right before “going on stage” is possible. I can even skip “speaking” a block of text while presenting. I definitely do not have that flexibility with the current method of using PowerPoint. With using PowerPoint, once it is saved to the USB drive, no other changes can be made. It is what it is. There is no flexibility while I deliver it.

And, with the P4T app open, I can type a comment or respond to a question, which creates further opportunity for spontaneity.

There are a few drawbacks, however. Because an extended tap can cause one block of text to be spoken, it would be relatively easy to “speak” a wrong block, particularly when I am nervous and my hands are more jerky than usual.

Also, I wouldn’t, necessarily, need PowerPoint, which I find redirects eyeballs off of me and onto the large screen. I find that is one way – perhaps a sneaky way – to deal with the jitters of being in front of an audience.

It does mean that if I have access to PowerPoint at the event, I can still use it to show photos and such. But I no longer need to spend hours on creating the captions, animations and timings, unless I choose to create my presentation in that way.

I now have a choice!

I can choose between my pared down, “acoustic” method using only my iPad with my nifty new Bluetooth speaker, which will be ideal for smaller venues or my full blown “rock n roll” method using PowerPoint with the scrolling captions and layered images, which is likely best for longer, more in-depth topics.

As this “acoustic” method has recently formulated in my mind, I have yet to test it in a living lab. I would gratefully welcome the opportunity to deliver a 5-, 10- or 15-minute presentation if you have an audience that might be open to a motivational message, but possibly a not quite perfected delivery method.


For more of information about how I deliver motivational presentations with a synthesized voice, please visit my speaker site.

If you enjoyed this post, consider buying me a cafe mocha. Thanks kindly.

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“We’re Ain’t Gonna Take It Any More”: Communication Access Now, No More Social Injustice

Filed under: Living with a disability — by Glenda at 6:35 pm on Wednesday, March 12, 2014

We’re not gonna take it
No, we ain’t gonna take it
We’re not gonna take it anymore

We’ve got the right to choose and
There ain’t no way we’ll lose it
This is our life, this is our song

~ Lyrics from Twisted Sisters’ “We’re Not Gonna Take It”

Individuals with communication disabilities, which affect how we speak or understand what others are saying, typically experience inequality in employment, healthcare and numerous other situations on a daily basis. We are often treated as if we are hearing or cognitively impaired, which is not necessarily the case, and we are regularly discounted,  devalued or, even, dismissed.

Access to effective communication is a social justice issue, where social justice is defined as "… promoting a just society by challenging injustice and valuing diversity." Social justice exists when "all people share a common humanity and therefore have a right to equitable treatment, support for their human rights, and a fair allocation of community resources." In conditions of social justice, people are not “discriminated against, nor their welfare and well-being constrained or prejudiced on the basis of gender, sexuality, religion, political affiliations, age, race, belief, disability, location, social class, socioeconomic circumstances, or other characteristic of background or group membership" (Quoted from What is Social Justice?)

Glenda using her iPadAs an individual with a significant speech impairment, I have experienced inequitable treatment in countless ways. The most impactful have been in the areas of employment and healthcare.

It still irks a back corner of my mind that I am unemployed and surviving on social assistance because I couldn’t find an employer willing to look beyond my jerky movements and difficult-to-understand speech to give my abilities and skills a chance. Actually, it sucks the chocolate chip right out of my cookie that after five years at high school and seven years at university, working hard to keep up (and sometimes surpass) my classmates and friends, only to watch them land jobs with decent salaries, Christmas bonuses and pension plans while I’m still stuck on social assistance, labeled as unemployable. I have no doubt that my speech impairment played a huge role in acquiring that employment status, but proving it is a different matter. After all, that would have been social injustice. Discrimination, which is illegal.

Glenda Watson Hyatt speaking at Open Web Camp IV

Thankfully, i have found other ways to put my skills, talents and passion to use, in service of others. With perseverance and current technology, I have found a way to become a motivational speaker to share my message with audiences. (I love the irony here!)

I remain confident that my rightful compensation will eventually find its way into my bank account. And, after all of these years of un- and under-employment, that will be one juicy Christmas bonus when it finally does come.

Being self employed, I have been fortunate to surround myself with people who believe in me and who know I am capable and have much to offer. For example, in the next few weeks, I have a couple of podcast interviews. These solopreneurs are willing to give me and the technology a shot in order to share my experience, my story with their audiences.

Unfortunately, I do not have that same latitude in surrounding myself with people who believe in me when it comes to my healthcare. Oftentimes I need to deal with healthcare professionals as they come; I have very little choice. And, frankly, these “professionals” have no clue when it comes to interacting with an individual with a speech impairment or, for that matter, any disability. (Again, the irony.)

As one example (of many): on one trip to the Emergency Room when I had badly injured my foot, the nurse indicated that my husband Darrell had to go back to the waiting room because there wasn’t enough space for both of our wheelchairs.

Darrell explained that I needed him for communication purposes. But, once he relayed how the injury occurred and other necessary medical details, he was told to leave. The nurse assured him that she would come get him if he was needed. None of the other patients’ companions were forced to leave.

In that moment I wondered what were my patient’s rights. Patients who are Deaf wouldn’t (or shouldn’t) be denied access to an interpreter. Non-English speaking patients requiring a translator would definitely not be denied one; that would hit the news for sure.

Yet, I, with a significant speech impairment, was denied my means of communication. Darrell did hand me my iPad before leaving, just in case, but I wasn’t sure I could coherently type because I was in so much pain.

In this instance, I was suffering from only an injured foot. What if it had been serious or, even, life threatening? Would I have been still denied my means of communication? When my well-being or life is at stake, that is social injustice!

This needs to stop. Now. People’s well-being and lives are at stake.

Communication Access symbol symbol contains two faces, one talking, both watching and a two-way arrow indicating an exchange or interactionFor this reason and many others, Communication Disabilities Access Canada (CDAC) is launching a 2.5-year national project Communication Access Now (CAN) to promote communication accessibility for people who have speech and language disabilities.

How can you become involved?

Check out the education and resources about making goods and services accessible to people with communication disabilities. Like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.

If you are in Vancouver, BC, on Monday, March 17th, please join us for the Communication Access Now event – an information session and a rallying of the people. To be held at the Creekside Community Recreation Centre, 1:00-3:00pm.

“We’re not gonna take it anymore.”

Our voices will be heard. Our voices need to be heard.


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If you enjoyed this post, consider buying me a cafe mocha. Thanks kindly.

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From Speech Impairment to Motivational Speaker: How I Create My Talking PowerPoint Presentations

Filed under: Motivation — by Glenda at 3:16 pm on Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Glenda presenting at the Cerebral Palsy Association's AGM

People are often puzzled by how I can be a motivational speaker when I have such a pronounced speech impairment. A fair puzzlement, indeed.

My career choice is largely thanks to technology. Because of technology, I am able to convert text into synthesized speech, which I then embed into my PowerPoint presentation that also has scrolling captions and images.

However, the process is not for the faint of heart or technophobe. For the technophile who likes an ingenious mashup, here is a behind-the-scene-look at how I created my most recent PowerPoint presentation “Go Beyond: Stare Your Fear in the Face and Go for It!”

Writing and Editing

The process begins with writing my presentation in Microsoft Word. Typing with only my left thumb is slow; using the WordQ software for word prediction and completion saves me keystrokes.

However, when I am in my writing groove, I either keep typing and lose the benefit of having word prediction or I constantly look up at the word prediction box on my computer screen and lose the flow of words.

Here’s where using my original iPad with the free (yet no longer available) DisplayLink app as a second computer screen comes in handy. I drag the word prediction box over to the second screen and place the iPad on my lap, within the same view as my keyboard, which makes writing a little more comfortable.

Word prediction box on iPad on my lap

Time: 20.75 hours

Chunking Text

The scrolling captions, for the benefit of audience members who are hearing impaired, are actually text boxes stacked above each PowerPoint slide. Motion paths (the green and red arrows in the image below) move the captions down to along the top of the slide when I hit the Space Bar while presenting. Each slide has 15 captions; an arbitrary number that can easily be decreased on a slide, but not easily increased.

A PowerPoint slide with caption boxes stacked above

Each caption holds approximately a line and a half of text from Microsoft Word.

Once I have written my presentation, I break the text into slides and captions. Captions become identified by the format Slide X-Y – where X is the slide number and Y the caption number – which is important in later steps.

My written script divided into slides and captions

Some slides end up having less than 15 captions and some captions are short depending on natural breaks in the content and where I want slightly longer pauses. This is one of the few ways I can control the speed of delivery.

Time: 2.5 hours

Copying the Captions

At this point, my ever-patient husband Darrell copies the captions from Word and pastes into the corresponding the caption box in PowerPoint. He also saves each caption as a separate text file, using the structure Slide X-Y as the filename.

Time: 4.33 hours

Kate-izing the Text

Next comes converting the text into speech with the software TextAloud and the synthesized voice known as Kate. One by one, I open each text file and listen to how Kate reads it. Sometimes some tweaking of the pronunciation is necessary; for example, is “read” meant to be spoken as “reed” or “red” in that instance?

Screenshot of TextAloud software

Once saving it as a WAV file (the only option compatible with PowerPoint), I link the audio file with the appropriate caption via the Animation Panel in PowerPoint. Here’s where the filename structure Slide X-Y comes in handy.

Animation Effects dialog box in PowerPoint

Time: 5.25 hours

Creating, Adding and Layering images

For the most part, I use my own images rather than stock ones in my presentations. Finding them and then cropping and adding arrows or such (as needed) takes time, albeit fun.

The tricky part is the layering of the images. The slide below has four images layered upon one another, plus text boxes and arrows to highlight details. All of these are inserted between the appearance of the captions via the Animation Pane on the right.

Slide with captions and open Animation Pane

Getting the order and the timing right for all of these moving bits is when I reach for the chocolate; the darker, the better.

Time: 17.25 hours

Testing, Tweaking and Practicing

Now that the presentation is built, I can see how it looks and sounds as a whole. I make revisions, adjustments and corrections as needed. Changing one word means redoing the audio file, editing the caption and re-linking the audio file to the caption. It all takes time, but it is worth it in the end.

With this one presentation, I ran out of time before I was 100% happy with the end product. No one knew except me.

Time: 3 hours

After 53.08 hours, 16 slides, 163 audio files, 163 captions, 163 motion paths, 38 images and numerous arrows, text boxes and accessories, I have a 30 minute presentation. Whatever it takes to get the job done!

Here is a brief clip from “Go Beyond: Stare Your Fear in the Face and Go for It!”:

(Transcript is available here.)

To have me share the entire presentation with your group, your organization or at your event, please contact me.

If you enjoyed this post, consider buying me a cafe mocha. Thanks kindly.

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