The best public speakers are similar to our recent Olympic medal winners. To reach the podium, they worked hard, practiced, failed and tried again. And they all have an unwavering dedication into their craft.
It's been said, "there is no "I" in team (though some do point out there is a "me"). Until now, presenters who wanted to excel in public speaking could rely only on support from coaches, friends or colleagues. Now, there are also innovative apps can push your public speaking to new heights.
If you want to elevate your public speaking skills, here are five of the best apps to catapult you to oratory glory (hey, that rhymes--don't worry, I'm not giving up my day-job).
Disclosure: I'm not a professional app reviewer and I don't play one on TV. No promotional consideration was given to us for recommending these apps and I've never interacted with anyone from these companies. Oh, and no animals were harmed in the writing of this article.
1. Practicing your speech
Want to practice in front of an audience, but your friends or coworkers aren't available?
The next best thing: VirtualSpeech works with Google Cardboard to provide photo-realistic environments with animated audience members that move and interact as they would during an actual event.
You can also add ambient noise to prepare you for potential distractions on the day of--the app features multiple settings to choose from, including boardrooms, interview rooms, and even a fake wedding party for best man or maid of honor speeches.
It won't heckle you like you're at a comedy club, but but when it comes to leveraging VR, few public speaking apps are doing it quite like VirtualSpeech.
2. Managing your stress
Feeling a little stressed out about your big presentation? Stress Check by Azumio helps you handle the pressure by monitoring your emotional and physical stress levels.
The app measures your heart rate, so you can take the necessary steps to calm your nerves before the big presentation.
Used in conjunction with the guided meditation app Public Speaking from HiveBrain, this app could really help you identify signs of pre-speech jitters--and eliminate them--before they eliminate your speech.
Also, check out Breath2Relax. It's great for practicing calming breathing techniques right before your presentation when nerves are at their pique.
3. Staying organized
Being organized is one way to manage your stress, and the Outliner app makes it easy to arrange your thoughts ahead of time in a logical, smoothly-flowing order.
You can create outlines as detailed or as sparse as you see fit, and the app can sync to Dropbox for easy, on-the-go editing (the editor feature itself is incredibly user-friendly, with simple drag-and-drop and copy and paste features).
OmniOutliner is another app with similar capabilities. What differentiates OmniOutliner is that it allows for a higher degree of customization along with the option for creating templates.
That said, I'd save your money ($29.99) and go with Outliner. It works just as well for a fraction of the cost. Also, Outliner's Dropbox sync capability is a big plus for me.
4. Finding a teleprompter
Ever feel at a loss for words? With PromptSmart Pro you don't ever have to. It's arguably the best teleprompter app out there, and with a hefty $14.99 price tag, it ought to deliver.
One of my favorite features is its speech recognition scrolling, which adjusts to your natural pace as you speak--it also automatically pauses scrolling when you go off-script to allow for the occasional joke or aside.
There are a number of other apps that make the same promise, but in my humble opinion, PromptSmart stands apart from the crowd.
5. Printing your notes on the go
Forgetting your notes or a critical handout for your presentation can be a disaster, which is why Print n Share is such a lifesaver.
The app lets you print from just about any WiFi or Bluetooth printer (even over 3G). It works for any document format compatible with Mac or PC. After an in-app upgrade, it can convert files to PDF and lets you wirelessly transfer files and documents between your devices.
A quick heads up: The initial setup takes some time--entering printer IP addresses, downloading free software to print from a printer without WiFi, etc. Just don't let your first time using the app be the time that you're in a crunch and need something printed immediately.
Recently, I was coaching an executive on public speaking, he asked, "What's the secret? Do I really need to be prepared, word-for-word?"
Think of these apps as part of your preparation (you still need to know your material and follow public speaking tips). They can definitely boost your confidence and enhance your presentation towards being a top public speaker.