Whether you’re striving to make public speaking your primary job, you’re a professional learning to speak up more so you can become a stronger leader in your organization or you have goals that lie somewhere in between, mastering public speaking skills is the key to building your reputation and becoming influential.
Building a public speaking-oriented career is challenging, but with the help of these apps, it becomes much easier to be successful.
#1 Verbalize Your Outline
If you prefer speaking over writing, it may be more effective for you to plan your speech verbally rather than writing an outline. Instead of going through the motions of sitting with a blank screen or sheet of paper and planning your speech as if you would an essay, stand, sit or wander around while you record yourself planning what you want to say. This allows you to figure out what points sound natural to you, which ones you have a hard time explaining, which transitions need to be smoother, etc.
Record yourself using transcription apps to give yourself a document of your thoughts. If you do this multiple times, you can compare notes and determine what points and transitions you should incorporate into your final outline.
Here are two apps to start with:
- Voice Notes (Android)
This is one of the highest rated free transcription apps for Android.
- Dragon Dictation (iOS)
Likewise, this is one of the highest rated transcription apps for i-Phones.
If you want perfectly accurate transcriptions of your speech outlines to keep, use to create slides, etc., consider investing in a paid transcription app like Dictate2Us. In anywhere from 1-48 hours you can have a professional transcribe your speech with perfect accuracy.
Pro-Tip: Check out my article on the Science of Public Speaking to learn to learn about a tested and proven speech structure that you can use to guide your outlining process.
#2 Get Your Pace in the Sweet Spot
One of the most challenging bad public speaking habits to overcome is speaking too quickly. If your natural pace is already fast it can be difficult to tell you are talking too rapidly unless you are told and/or you see people’s confused faces.
A clear, conversational pace is between 110 and 160 words per minute, but when nerves, excitement or a natural speedy pace cause you to talk fast, it is easy to go upwards of 200 words per minute. While most people can comprehend that, it takes extra cognitive effort that your audience may not want to invest, prompting them to give in to their distracted thoughts. Speaking too quickly also makes you be perceived as nervous and unconfident – regardless of whether or not you are – because it sounds like you’re trying to rush through your speech as fast as you can so you can get out of the spotlight.
The app tracks your pace in real-time to show you when you’re speaking too quickly. Practice your speeches with this app until you are maintaining a pace within the 110-160 word per minute sweet spot.
Pro-tip: If you’re looking to pursue a public speaking career or a job that requires you to give frequent presentations, I recommend practicing with this app before you have a big speech coming up. You don’t have to do anything serious–you could record yourself telling your dog about your day or sharing your thoughts aloud or when you’re having conversations. The more often you are aware of your fast-talking tendencies and are able to correct your pace in the moment, the easier it will be to speak at the optimal rate when giving presentations in high-pressure contexts.
#3 Um…I Think You Need this App
Filler words like “um, uh, like, yeah” etc. make you look unconfident and detract from the power of your message. Luckily the app, Ummo, available for Android and iOS can help you eliminate filler words from your vocabulary. The app tracks the amount of “ums” and other words you select for it so you’re aware how frequently filler words come up and you can track your progress as you lower the amount of filler words you say.
Pro-Tip: Most people use filler words because they need a moment to think before they continue speaking. Taking a momentary break is great, but train yourself to replace your filler words with pauses. It will make you appear more confident and give your speech more power.
#4 Don’t Let Speaking Difficulties Quiet Your Voice
If you’re a non-native English speaker or struggle with speech impairments, your ability to speak clearly may reduce the power of your message and/or limit your ability to secure paid or voluntary speaking gigs. However, your voice deserves to be heard and there is an app that can help increase the vocal accuracy of your speaking.
Created by two international engineering students at Drexel University, Orai records your speaking and gives you action-oriented feedback to improve your pronunciation, pauses and other speaking elements.
Pro-Tip: If you’re a non-native speaker and/or struggle with speaking impairments, either only use words that you are confident in your ability to pronounce or spend extra time practicing difficult words. When speaking about technical topics in particular, you don’t want to risk losing people because they misunderstand key terms.
#5 Use a Speaker-Friendly Timer
If you’re giving speeches at events and in other contexts where you have limited control of the setting or environment, mastering time is critical to keeping hosts happy. Speaking in hotel ballrooms or conference rooms? These rooms rarely have clocks, so you’ll need to manage your time in a different way. The key to doing that is knowing exactly when you need to shift from beginning to middle to end in your speeches, talks and presentations.
Rather than setting up three different timers and getting distracted when you have to turn each one off, use the Toastmaster Timer for Android and iOS. The app uses a streetlight system to let you know when you should transition from your introduction to main discussion and main discussion to conclusion. It also contains pre-set recommended time breakdowns for a variety of common speech types and allows you to put in your own time measures.
Pro-tip: Don’t work on your timing until you have mastered your pacing. If you talk too fast, it is going to throw off your overall time and cause you finish too soon, which is extra terrible for paid speaking events. If you’re paid to speak for 60-minutes, your audience will expect 60-minutes of content! However, if you can slow your speaking by the time the event arrives, you’ll have more flexibility in flowing through your content with ease and control.
#6 Calm Your Pre-Stage Jitters
Often it is the moments while you wait to begin your talk that your nerves reach their peak and threaten to derail you. These next apps contain short, guided meditations, stress-coping tips and relaxation exercises to help you feel calm and confident:
Both of these apps contain exercises in different time frames that you can use both to calm your nerves during practice sessions and minimize last minute stage-fright.
Pro-Tip: If you struggle to get your nerves under control, join a public speaking group like Toastmasters to learn how to be comfortable public speaking before taking risks on pursuing important or paid gigs.