Can your smartphone make you a better speaker?
We use our smartphones for just about everything, and they certainly can help you improve your talks and audience engagement.
A few years ago, we posted an article on the 21 apps that you can use to improve your talks, and today we are updating this list with 10 new, tried and tested apps that can help you master your speaking techniques.
Let’s jump right in.
Create dynamic, visually powerful presentations
Some speakers find it easier to get into the flow and say what they are thinking, rather than write out what they would like to say. Voice Notes is one of the highest-rated free transcription apps and can help you by recording what you say and turning the recording into text. You can work out your content through various renditions of the recording, and then find the flow that will work best for your talk.
All of your favorite slide creation platforms: KeyNote, PowerPoint, Google Slides and Prezi, are available as smartphone apps. Create and change your presentation on the go, keep them on hand so you can practice your talk anywhere, and have an immediate backup in case the tech fails at your next event.
While PowerPoint has been a keystone for many presentations for years, below are two newer apps which can help you create visually compelling slides that integrate video, images, and audio flawlessly, while you are on the go.
Flowvella has been created specifically for iPhones and iPads, and is one of the best new platforms for creating fully integrated and interactive presentations. It has been specifically designed and developed for tablet usage, and uses smart gesture technology. It allows you to flawlessly integrate media from all kinds of different sources so you never get caught awkwardly waiting for a video to connect or being forced to screenshot or open a PDF to include in the presentation.
4. Haiku Deck
Haiku Deck makes the most beautifully-designed presentations. It is near impossible to make an unattractive presentation with this tool. It is only available as an app: which is perfect if you are on the go or your smartphone is your go-to device. If you are looking for a simple, easy tool that makes gorgeous slides, this is the one for you.
John Medina, a developmental molecular biologist and lecturer at the University of Washington, says that our brains will inevitably start to get bored after a mere 10 minutes, and by changing up the content style every 7-10 minutes, you can keep your audience engaged throughout your entire presentation. With Powtoon, you can create short informational animations that can help explain a specific point or an in-depth piece of information; keeping your audience engaged while still getting your idea across.
6. AIO Remote
Turn your Android smartphone into a presentation remote with the All In One Remote. All you need do is sync the presentation with the app and desktop app and you are ready to go. Integrates with Windows, Linux and Mac, and you can control any application on your computer through WiFi or Bluetooth. And it’s free!
Practice makes perfect
There is a fine line between over- and under-practicing your speech. Practice your talk until you know all your main points without hesitation, but still sound conversational and flexible.
Stop using filler words and improve your pronunciation
Most people use filler words like “um” and “ah” when they are speaking. However, when on stage this can be very distracting for your audience. Download the Ummo app to get a handle on your “ums” and “ahs”. The app records your speech, then generates a transcript highlighting where you used filler words. This way you can tackle making sure you omit them from your future talks.
This app was designed for non-native English speaker and speakers who struggle with speech impairments. Created by two international engineering students at Drexel University, Orai records your talk and gives you instant, action-oriented feedback which will help you to improve your pronunciation, pauses and energy levels, while offering speaking tips to help you improve the flow and make your talks more understandable.
This app will help you practice taking filler words out of your speaking. While Ummo will help you with your specific talk, what happens when you need to answer a question? The app will help you practice eliminating these words in unpracticed speech. There are two games: TalkAbout and FreeStyle, which record you speaking about various topics. The app monitors how many times you use filler words and gives you a detailed report to track your progress.
Timing is everything
Timing can make or break a performance — as anyone who has sat in on a session that has overrun by 20 minutes knows.
These next apps will help you manage your timing and pacing. From establishing good speaking rhythms to countdown clocks, these apps will help you go with the flow and stay on time.
A teleprompter “prompts” you with a visual text of your presentation. It allows you to read the text word-for-word ensuring consistent and accurate speech while maintaining the illusion of spontaneity.
10. iPrompt Pro
iPrompt Pro is one of the most intuitive teleprompting apps. It has a lot of options: from colour choices to scrolling speeds. It also has in-app text editing and timing changes, which is ideal for making changes as you are practicing. Although, there is some heavy advertising on the app (which can be quite tiresome) it is a low-cost, flexible app that has a lot to offer.
11. Teleprompt +3
Teleprompt +3 is a simple and well-designed app that has incredible options that will help you practice your talk. The timer tools are very helpful for ensuring your session runs on time. Tools like the audio and video recorder, rich text editor, and intuitive speed control help you make your talk look and sound natural. This is one of the more expensive apps, but if you are looking for a tool that will go above and beyond your expectations for a teleprompter, this is it.
Prompster is smoothly-designed and provides readable text for all sorts of audible presentations, including talks, lectures, and sermons. You can create or import your documents, record your presentation (pro version), and share your talk with your audience via email. The onscreen controls allow you to set your text size and speed easily. If you are looking for a great tool to practice with, this is a tried-and-true app. It was voted iPhoneLife Magazine’s Best Public Speaking and Presentation App.
Teleprompter Pro (both Lite and Premium) are very responsive and easy to use. You can type in or import your talk, then select your font, text size, and pace. The app continuously highlights where you are in the script so you won’t get lost. You can share your scripts on all of your devices: ideal for setting up your backup solutions. You can export prompt files using AirDrop or email. The Pro version also has a video recording function, which is perfect for watching your practices and making improvements.
Normal conversational speech ranges between approximately 120-200 words per minute, and listening to someone speak outside of this range can be difficult.
For example, an auctioneer can speak upwards of 400 words per minute, but listening to someone speak for 20 minutes in this range will befuddle and irritate any audience. On the other hand, speaking at less than 110 wpm will cause the audience to get bored and tune out.
Speech rate guidelines:
Slow: less than 110 wpm
Conversational: between 110 wpm and 160 wpm.
Fast: more than 160 wpm
Radio hosts and podcasters tend to speak at 150-160 wpm.
Auctioneers and commentators speak between 250 and 400 wpm.
Using a metronome can help you set your pace, but don’t forget to vary your pace — keeping it too even will sound monotonous, so play around with your pacing until it is in the right range while still sounding natural.
14. Metronome Beats
Metronome Beats has easy-to-use controls for increasing and decreasing the tempo in small increments. The visual beat indicators help you to keep track, and it is easy to mute the metronome while visually monitoring your tempo.
15. Pro Metronome
Pro Metronome was created for all kinds of stage performers, including musicians, to improve their rhythm. It is a fantastic app for public speakers who are working on their pacing. This app has a variety of ways to keep your tempo: from screen color changes to vibrations and sounds.
Timers and Clocks
It is so easy to lose track of how long you’ve been on stage. Being able to keep your talk on time is crucial. It keeps you from waffling on and ensures that the whole event runs in a timely manner.
Having a timer will help you keep your presentation flowing on time.
Modeled after a traffic light, this app helps you figure out where you are in your talk and how long you have left to get your point home. A green light displays for the introduction and body of your talk and it changes to amber when you are getting close to the end, and red when your time is up. The app is easy to use and allows you to custom-set your time frames. You can even change the alarm to a vibration if you are keeping it in your pocket onstage.
This app was originally designed for those who play the “Timer”, the individual in Toastmaster’s meetings who signals to the speaker when it is time to finish. It is a superb, free option for practicing. The timer is simple to use and has been designed specifically for speakers. It also uses the traffic light system but has slightly less customizable options than the Amber Light Speech Timer.
The SpeakerClock was inspired by the famous countdown clock that is used at TED conferences. The LED-style countdown clock is easy to see, even from a distance, so you are free to move around on stage. This app has a great design, and also includes a traffic-light-style feature that alerts you when it is time to get to your conclusion.
Keep your pre-performance jitters under control
While the above apps are practical and skills-focused, they don’t address one of the greatest challenges when speaking — stage fright.
Where a little bit of pre-stage anxiety is normal, if it tips into too much, it can have a detrimental effect and potentially ruin your talk.
These next few apps will help you manage your stress levels and bring your heart-rate back down. Helping you get your message out clearly and confidently.
This app is part guided meditation and part stress-relief training. It offers meditation-style hypnosis sessions, like “Relax Completely” and “Total Relaxation in 10 minutes”. It also offers video interviews on what causes, and how to deal with, stress. It aims to teach you how to enjoy small doses of stress and gives you some tools to help you deal effectively with anxiety.
Sometimes, all you need is some soothing, confidence-boosting words to get you in the right headspace. Dr Andrew Johnson's guided meditation / self-hypnosis program will help you relax and minimize the anxiety of speaking in front of crowds.
One of the most interesting new apps for public speakers helps you by putting you on a virtual stage. Upload your presentation, then practice in front of a fake audience. The app requires a virtual headset, but its 3D, realistic-looking scenarios can be very helpful in getting a handle on being in front of a group.
22. Insight Timer
With over 4.5K free guided meditations from over 1K meditation practitioners, and over 750 meditation music tracks, you will be able to find something that will help you stay calm. You can even customize your meditation using the background sounds and meditation tool intervals, so you have something that is specific to your needs and fits into your pre-performance routine.
While not specific to public speaking, Headspace is a great way to learn more about meditation and start regular practice. The free trial helps you relax for 10 minutes a day for 10 days with guided exercises and lessons, and includes a personalized progress page, reward system for continued practice, and can even hook you up with a buddy to help ensure you stick to the practice. All the while being fun, light, and engaging. It is one of the top-rated apps on both iTunes and Android.
Calm offers a wide range of guided meditations to help you relax. Meditations of various lengths can help with building self-esteem and calming anxiety. There are also breathing exercises, unguided meditations, and more than 25 soothing sounds to help calm your nerves.
Interact with your audience
The next set of apps are all geared towards helping you engage with your audience while on stage.
EngageNow lets you design attractive-looking polls and quizzes that empower the audience to interact with the big screen during an event. It can also be used to crowdsource questions or open up chat around the event in order to spark debate and connect audience members with each other.
Glisser is a “complete package” when it comes to audience engagement. Within a few seconds they can visit your unique URL, see and download your slides, write personal notes, share content on social media; participate in polls and live Q+As, vote on content, or offer feedback. Even if you only incorporate a few of these features into your next presentation, yours will be miles ahead of the average presentation.
BuzzMaster takes the idea of polling to the next level and is perfect if you’d like to engage your audience in a more holistic debate about a topic. BuzzMaster encourages your audience to have an active role in sharing experiences during the event. These interactions are perfect for fueling inspiring debates and giving the audience members a distinct voice, providing you with valuable insight. Companies like Google, ASML, Microsoft, ABN-AMRO, and KPMG have been using BuzzMaster in their conferences to better engage their audiences.
Poll Everywhere has been around for some time and is still one of the best apps on the market for polling your audience. Audience members can participate through the app, text message, web browser, or Twitter, and the results are ready to display instantly. Use it as a standalone polling app alongside your presentation or integrate it directly into your PowerPoint with the software Poll Everywhere.
Instantly and seamlessly interact with your audience by having them vote in real-time. Your audience does not have to sign-up or download anything. They only need to visit the website on their device, punch in the code unique to your presentation, then watch the stats tally instantly on a beautiful display. Mentimeter is a mobile voting app that lets you show the results live with real-time graphs and charts. Able to handle over 30,000 votes per minute, it can work for small events or big ones.
The app provides many different question/response formats such as multiple-choice, open-ended, rating scale and word clouds, and you can style it with your branding.
Slido has many of the same tools as the other apps mentioned in this section but has an interesting variation to the Q+A element for audience engagement. The audience can vote to discuss popular questions so that you can answer the ones that affect the most members. The questions can then be vetted by you on stage or by event organizers; saving a lot of time while giving your audience the feeling that they are connected to others who share the same thoughts.
31. Crowd Mics
Crowd Mics allows attendees to use their own phones as wireless microphones. Their questions can easily be amplified without the need to walk up to the microphone or have a runner try to access them. Your audience can also participate with text comments, questions, and live polling.
To sum up
There has been a slew of new apps developed that can help you give better presentations, as presentation skills become more important for professionals across all industries.
From platform which will help you create visually stunning presentation slides, to tools which will train you on perfecting your pace and timing—there is an app for that.
While none of the tools can get up stage and do your talk for you, they can help smooth out the rougher bit, helping you tweak and perfect your talk.
Are there any tools that you use that you would love to see on this list? Contact us — we’d like to know what you are using!