Yoodli is an exciting new AI public speaking tool that I am using in my coaching.
A lot of my work is with people who have extreme public speaking anxiety that holds them back from achieving their career and life goals.
In my experience, there are three things that people need to overcome a crippling fear of public speaking:
Yoodli won’t replace the coach but it is a great tool to enable safe practice and support skill development.
A safe place to practice
You can’t learn how to play tennis by taking notes or talking to a coach, and public speaking is no different. There is no way that I know of overcoming a fear of public speaking without actually doing it!
The problem for many people is that they don’t have opportunities to practice public speaking in a safe environment. They need the equivalent of the practice court, where they can face hundreds of practice balls before they enter a tournament.
Over a seven-week Fear-less public speaking course, they will do three prepared talks and a range of other speaking exercises. But I stress that this is a bare minimum, and they need to look for other opportunities to speak outside of the course, such as at meetings, social occasions and any other ‘low stakes’ situation.
I now also recommend that they use Yoodli to supplement these real-life experiences, and I suggest they record themselves a few times a week. They can use the in-built Yoodli exercises or choose from a list of practice questions that I provide.
It might seem strange to think that talking to a piece of software can help overcome anxiety, but it really helps, and I believe there are a couple of reasons for this.
Firstly, it helps people to get more comfortable with the practice of speaking out loud so that it no longer feels strange and awkward. Many people report having ‘out of body experiences’ when public speaking. They can hear their own voice but feel disconnected from it.
Initially, the same happens when they record themselves speaking via Yoodli. But quickly, they start to feel more comfortable. Most importantly, they report that the benefits transfer to the real world so that they have fewer of these disconnected experiences.
An analytic approach to skill development
Secondly, it encourages people to be more analytical and less (self) judgmental about their public speaking efforts.
I have always videoed the prepared presentations in my courses so people can see what they really look like. Early in my career, I had a personal breakthrough when I watched myself on video and realised that my ‘mistakes’ were barely noticeable. This taught me that judging my performance by how I felt after a presentation was not reliable. Video footage provided a more objective measure.
But there is one issue with providing people with only their raw video footage. Some people struggle to overcome the ‘cringe factor’ they experience from watching themselves.
Using Yoodli doesn’t eliminate the cringe factor, but it helps to shift people’s focus from just the video footage to the analytics.
Many of my clients have had a past bad experience and have self-limiting beliefs about their public speaking abilities. Using the Yoodli tool, they start to realise that public speaking is a set of skills that can be broken down and learned.
By slowing down, reducing the use of filler words, pausing, and varying their pace and volume, they become better speakers and see the improvements. For example, they might race through the first presentation at 185 words a minute (pretty fast) but slow it down to 160 words a minute the second time.
A feature I love is the ability for people to replay their speech without the filler words (ums and ahs). To be told you said ‘um’ or ‘ah’ 30 times in three minutes can feel demoralising. But if you can hear the difference that eliminating these fillers would make, it is more motivating than embarrassing.
In summary, Yoodli is a great tool to help support people with public speaking anxiety. It can provide a safe place to practice and can encourage a growth mindset around public speaking.
My journey with the Yoodli tool is just beginning, and I am looking forward to developing new ways of using the tool in my courses and one-on-one coaching. I am also looking at how I can use Yoodli to broaden my range of coaching offerings.
Check out www.yoodli.ai/fear-less
Article written by Catherine Syme
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I get huge satisfaction from seeing the relief, pride, and even joy that people experience when they complete a course and reflect on the progress they have made. See what others say for some inspiring stories.