Become an Effective Public Speaker

September 3, 2016

In today’s business environment you must be an effective public speaker to be successful. Clear and confident communication can help with promotion, gain support for a project, secure business and persuade groups of people of your idea. It has become more important than ever to be an effective public speaker.

Stressful environments, including presenting to large crowds, cause the body to tense up. Adrenalin is released and all non-essential functions, such as speaking, suffer as a consequence. The key is practising in a realistic environment so that you are prepared and feel relaxed, ensuring you deliver your speech with confidence whether it is in front of a large crowd or a small board room.

Current methods of practice are not satisfactory

  • Practice in front of a mirror – this demands you focus on two separate activities, the presenting and you watching yourself. This can be very distracting.
  • Speak in front of friends – this can be useful as you can get good feedback from a colleague. However, they may not be willing to give hours of their time which is required to give a confident speech.
  • Hiring a coach – this can give you great results but it's hard to find a suitable coach and they are usually expensive. In addition, you’ll probably have to travel to see them which takes up more time.

Using Virtual Reality to practice

What is Virtual Reality?

Virtual reality (VR) is the term used to describe a 3D, computer generated environments which can be interacted with by a person. That person is immersed within this environment, giving the impression that the person is really there, and can perform a series of actions within this virtual world. It has both entertainment and serious uses.

Practice effective public speaking with virtual reality

Virtual Reality for Effective Public Speaking

VR gives you a realistic environment to practice your public speaking in. When you put on a VR headset, you can present in front of hundreds of people in a huge conference room for example. It provides a convenient way to recreate the nerves and excitement of giving a real speech, all from the safety of your own home.


Train with VirtualSpeech

The VirtualSpeech VR app was designed to help people improve their communication skills. A variety of realistic environments, courses and speech analysis features help you improve quickly by providing real time feedback. The virtual reality courses include:

  • Eye contact training for different sized audiences
  • Dealing with sound and lighting distractions
  • Giving impromptu speeches
  • Speech insights and feedback

Other benefits of the VR app to help you become an effective public speaker include:

  • Practice on your own in a photo-realistic environment
  • Experience a real life audience
  • Practice your speaking skills as many times as you need
  • Load in your own slides
  • Instant feedback on hesitation words, pace of voice and other analysis features
  • Watch tutorial videos and presentation tips from expert speakers
  • Track progress and record speeches to listen to later
Public speaking practice in VR conference room with VirtualSpeech app

Public Speaking VR in-app screenshot. The left and right eye images make the environment look 3D within the virtual reality headset.

Prepare with your own slides

This is a powerful feature within the app, you can load in your own slides into the virtual room with you so that you're more prepared on the big day of your presentation.

The process for doing this is:

Android

Watch the tutorial video or follow these instructions:

  • Save your presentation as a PDF document
  • Connect your mobile to your computer and change USB for charging to USB for File Transfer on your mobile
  • Go to the internal storage of your mobile and open the VirtualSpeech folder which is created the first time you run the app (Note: If you do not see the VirtualSpeech folder on your PC after connecting your mobile to it, restart your mobile and the file should appear)
  • Copy the PDF(s) into the VirtualSpeech folder
  • View your PDF in the virtual scene and cycle through the slides using the VR headset trigger button or hovering over the Next / Previous buttons

iPhone

Watch the tutorial video or follow these instructions:

With iTunes

  • Save your presentation as a PDF document
  • Connect your iPhone to your computer and unlock it
  • Open iTunes and click on your device at the top
  • Click the Apps tab on the side and scroll down to File Sharing
  • Click on the VirtualSpeech app and drag your PDF(s) into the Virtual Speech Documents section
  • View your PDF in the virtual scene and cycle through the slides using the VR headset trigger button or hovering over the Next / Previous buttons

Without iTunes

  • Save your presentation as a PDF document
  • Email the PDF attachment to yourself
  • Open the email and press and hold the PDF attachment
  • Select the Copy to VirtualSpeech option
  • View your PDF in the virtual scene and cycle through the slides using the VR headset trigger button or hovering over the Next / Previous buttons

Training rooms to suit your speech

Once you've got your VR headset, such as the Google Cardboard, you can start exploring the different training rooms and courses within the app.

The app offers a choice of both large and small conference rooms, interview rooms, mini courses, classrooms, TED styled rooms, wedding room and many more.

Main menu in Public Speaking VR app

Select an environment to present in, from a large conference room to a smaller meeting room. More environments and courses are being added frequently.

Public speaking and communication training in VR meeting room with VirtualSpeech app

A small meeting room to practice your presentation skills in.


Exercise: Practice these tips in the VR app

Think before you speak

Often we talk while we think. We think that filling the silence with noise gives us credibility. It actually has the opposite effect as what we say in these seconds adds nothing to the point you are trying to make. This takes away from your credibility rather than reinforcing it. Express your message as clearly as possible, and don’t be afraid to leave a silence, it can often add emphasis to your point. A good formula, from RADA skills training is:

  1. Think
  2. Breathe
  3. Speak

Posture and Delivery

Posture and a relaxed body are extremely important for public speaking and communication as they give a perception of dominance and authority. The following three points shows your effect on others:

  • Content – 7%
  • Voice – 37%
  • Body – 56%

A good posture opens up your rib cage and lungs so that you can communicate your points clearly. Deep breaths and full lungs maximise your voice and consequently your influence. Keep your shoulders back and your back straight, with your feet in line with your shoulders, this will allow you to command the environment you are speaking in.

Importance of good posture when presenting