Your most common fear might also be the skill that will help you advance in your career. Employers say the most in-demand skill is strong communication skills, according to a LinkedIn study. But more than a quarter of us rank public speaking as our main personal fear, after snakes but before spiders. How can you improve your speaking skills if you’d rather handle a tarantula than give a presentation?
“No one was born a great communicator; it takes practice, ”explains Audrey Mann Cronin, founder of the communications company Say It Media. “Strong communication skills – the ability to be a powerful, persuasive and articulate speaker – can be critical to success. “
Fortunately, technology can help. From too many “uh” to too many butterflies, apps can help you overcome these four speaking fears in order to impress your listener.
Use filler words
We have all met a speaker who fills in the pauses with words like “um” or “ok”. Unfortunately, this habit can be harmful, says Mann Cronin, creator of the LikeSo: Your Personal Speech Coach (iOS) app.
“We all want to speak in a way that forces others to listen, but when we put in too many ‘likes’, ‘sos’, ‘you know’ and ‘totally’ we diminish our credibility, water down our senses, distract our listeners and invite unnecessary judgment, ”she said.
LikeSo uses voice recognition technology and a fitness tracking approach to train you to avoid bad verbal habits. With two modes — freestyle and voice prompts — LikeSo tracks and monitors your words and pace, giving you an A + score at Uh Oh!
Two other apps perform a similar function: Ummo (iOS and Android) records your speech and highlights filler words so you can identify areas where you rely on this crutch. And Um Counter (Android) counts the number of times you use the word “um”, so you can determine your stumbling patterns and work on correcting them. You can also customize Um Counter to recognize words like “okay”, “uh”, and “mostly”.
If stress is your problem, there is an app that will help you relax. Confident Public Speaking (iOS and Android) was created by hypnotherapist David Ridgeway and includes guided meditations to help calm you down before taking the stage. The 10-minute session invites you to let go of any anxiety you may have from bad experiences, real or imagined. The app also includes video interviews that explain stress, so you can better understand it and use it to improve your speaking skills.
Forget what you are going to say
If you’re worried about freezing and forgetting what you’re going to say, Prompster Pro (iOS and Android) is an app that can help. It turns a smartphone or tablet into a teleprompter so you don’t have to fumble with broken notes or memory anymore. Create or import a document, then configure the app to scroll through words, customizing speed and font size.
To have too little or too much to say
If you’ve watched TED Talks you’ve seen this clock at the foot of the stage that tells speakers how long they’ve been on stage. SpeakerClock is an app (iOS) that does the same. This app helps you master your timing so you don’t drool too long or talk too fast. Presentation Timer Pro (Android) is another timer app. It also mutes your ringtone so that a call does not interrupt your presentation.
English is not your mother tongue
If English is not your first language and you are worried about it being apparent in your speech, Orai (iOS) is an app that gives you instant feedback. It gives a report on your clarity, use of filler words, rhythm and vocal energy. The app was created by engineering students from Drexel University, Danish Dhamani and Paritosh Gupta.
“The only thing we had in common was that English was not our mother tongue,” says Dhamani. Fast business. “Paritosh grew up in India. I was born in Pakistan, but my family moved to Tanzania when I was very young, so I grew up in Africa. When we got to the US it was tough, from job interviews to networking events, speaking in front of groups of people.
Orai includes vocal exercises for a few minutes a day to help you train and improve your speaking habits. It also includes voice prompts that are noted and provide feedback.
“Speaking in public is like going to the gym. You can’t go just once and get bigger biceps, you have to work out regularly, ”says Dhamani.