Sure, you can always try the imagine-them-in-their-underwear trick to manage those public speaking jitters, but nothing beats real practice. Actually, something does. Ceverum's Speech Center VR helps people uncomfortable with public speaking hone their skills using the Samsung Gear VR.
This helpful app lets you practice your public speaking on a non-threatening audience, and it includes the ability to take interactive classes, create avatars and give speeches to a live audience. Cerevum has broken the app down into two services: one for consumers and one for enterprise users. While the regular service will be free, the business-centric iteration will be launch at a yet-to-be-determined price.
I started my demo with the enterprise version of the app. I was asked to tell the story of how I came to live and work in New York City. As I spoke, now highly conscious of every um, ah and like, the app recorded my three-minute spiel. Now that my voiceover was recorded, I could upload it to the the company account where my colleagues can listen in and critique it, all in an effort to improve my speaking.
If I were planning on giving a presentation about Tom's Guide editorial calendar to an outside company, I could also upload the accompanying docs I planned to show, including Microsoft Word and PowerPoint. The app can store company talks, creating a private database that employees can refer to at their leisure.
In order to sharpen my speaking skills and lower my nervousness, Speech Center VR provides 10 unique speaking locations to practice in. Some of the more realistic options include a classroom, board meeting or a stage with a lectern. You can also give your talk on a tropical beach or a under a starry sky if you're so inclined.
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In the consumer version of the app, you'll have the ability to upload your speeches as well as take classes. Cerevum has yet to announce pricing, but the company is offering real-time lectures with professionals covering a wealth of fields, including networking, effective negotiating and even dating. Because Speech Center VR's bread and butter is improving public speaking, the first course you'll can attend will be “The Art of Public Speaking”, presented by speaking coach Sean Michael Thomas.
One of my favorite experiences during the demo was the avatar creator. As an avid fan of role-playing games, I was impressed with the amount of options I could choose from when creating virtual me. My avatar ended up with my skin tone and eye color as well as my purple hair. Cerevum is promising over 50,000 possible configurations of avatars, thanks to the vast amount of options.
As someone who struggles with public speaking, I'm looking forward to using Speech Center VR to potentially smooth out my rough oratory edges. It's potentially an inexpensive way to bone up on a skill that can potentially make or break a career. Stay tuned for my VR journey as I attempt to go from tongue-tied newbie to poised pro.