Let VR Make You a Better Public Speaker

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If you want to get ahead in your career, chances are you'll have to get good at public speaking. There are lots of avenues toward honing that skill, from the Toastmasters to improv classes to one-on-one coaching. If you really want to level up without humiliating yourself in the process, though, you might want to think about virtual reality.

Meet Ovation. For $20 per month, you've got access to full VR scenarios in which to practice your big talk and a metric ton of analytics to help you refine your talking points, hone your performance, and take out all the filler words that trip you up and slow you down. If you've already got a VR headset, you choose from a number of settings, like board room or lecture hall, and Ovation provides an audience which, while cartoony, behaves like a real audience. You've got to hold their attention as they cough, squirm, stare off into space, and whatever else people are likely to do in a captive setting. Not only that, but the program records your own movements and facial expressions to give you playback reviews once you've finished — you can watch and evaluate yourself in all your embarrassing (but improvable) glory.

Writing for the New Yorker, author Lauren Mechling describes overcoming glossophobia (fear of publish speaking) with Ovation. "Though virtual reality is better known for its ability to keep gamers up all night, it is also a proven aid for those suffering from a panoply of fears," she writes. Except to see more programs like Ovation for all kinds of self-improvement going forward.