'We all have the right to speech intelligence'
Public speaking may terrify the most confident of us but it's all about finding your natural rhythm - and tech can help you learn it.
That is according to James Bryce, founder of education technology company gweek and architect of Speech Intelligence Analytics™.
Users record clips of themselves speaking through the gweek app, which then uses machine learning to find out where they are falling down, such as using too many ‘ums’ and ‘ahs’, and helps them find their natural rhythm.
"We all possess speech intelligence and have the right to exercise this amazing power of speaking with impact, yet we've never been told the basic stuff which unlocks everything," Bryce told BusinessCloud.
"We meet 50-year-old PR executives at the top of their career who are still terrified of public speaking. This is a breakthrough. They say 'I never knew this is how I conduct myself in conversations' – and if you’re talking to five people or 500 it’s no different."
As so much of speech is actually physical, says Bryce, like learning to drive a car or play tennis practicing a few fundamental physical steps will help people become better speakers in the long run.
"Consultants and speech trainers who charge thousands of dollars a day for things like ‘the 10 things you need to do to be a great speaker’ won’t like gweek because we’re taking a lot of the myth out of what they do," he said.
"It's actually much more about finding the physical rhythms within yourself. They’re physically trainable but they take a bit of time."
One example of this is the 'power of the pause' idea which is often promoted by speech advisors. However, as this isn’t how people naturally talk, it often doesn't work.
"You're told that when you want to emphasise a point you've got to pause so people think you're serious," said Bryce.
"If you look at the way we use pauses in normal conversations you realise they’re actually the lifeblood of how we think. Pause gaps operate on a very frequent basis and allow the mind to shuttle from speaking mode to thinking mode.
"They also help the voice inflect up and down naturally so we don’t have to try and emphasise important words."
Bryce also describes how the idea of making lots of eye contact throughout a speech or conversation is also a myth.
"If you test this out in a normal conversation it will quickly fall off," he said.
"There's plenty of academic research which makes a connection between how eye movement helps facilitate memory recall. It helps trigger the thing you want to say in your mind. Ask someone a question and watch their eyes navigate around their mind."