New YorkTimes- For some people, public speaking comes naturally.
However, if you are like me, you may um and ah too much, spurred by the worry that nerves may get the best of you, that you might speak too fast or mess up in some way.
Therefore, I have been practicing my public speaking with the help of some applications.
One of those is a new app called “Ummo.”
With Ummo, you take a prepared speech, tap the microphone icon, wait for the countdown, and then talk.
As you speak, the app listens and automatically logs the words, the number of pauses and the use of pesky filler words like, “you know,” “like,” “right?”
Ummo can show a transcript of what you have said on the screen.
To improve, you can tell the app to beep when you use a filler word and edit the list of filler words to include ones you know you overuse.
Ummo can then give data like how many words were spoken and how often words were reused.
It also displays your pace in words per minute, how loud you were, whether your volume was consistent and so on.
The data is presented in easy-to-read graphs, and if you tap on a point in the graph, you can see the words in the speech transcript at that moment.
The idea is to learn when in the speech you faltered, so you can practice and fix mistakes.
Despite that, sometimes Ummo misunderstands the words that were said (though admittedly this American-made app may have had an issue with British accent), and I wish it kept a log of speech data to track whether there was improvement with practice.
Yet, Ummo is easy to use. It costs $2 and is available only on iOS.
Virtual Reality against Panicking
Part of the terror of public speaking is standing in front of a group of people who are paying attention to you.
This is a problem that the app “Public Speaking” by Virtual Speech may help alleviate.
Public Speaking, which is a virtual reality app, delivers an immersive 3-D video that moves as you look around.
The videos make you feel as if you are standing in different public speaking venues, like a podium in a small boardroom or a theater, sometimes with video of people listening to you.
The idea is to get someone accustomed to what it feels like to be presenting to a crowd, and thus prepare for the same situation in real life.
Because Public Speaking is a virtual reality app that shows the room as you look around, you need extra hardware to see the video — specifically Google Cardboard, a simple device that fits around your smartphone and costs $15 and up.
The app has a few extras like background noise simulation and the option to load in your own speech slides to the teleprompter-like display seen in various scenes.
Though the app cannot deliver the thrill of a real public speech, virtual reality experiences can be convincing and help conquer stage fright.
The app is free and available for iOS and Android.