Orator: A Karaoke Platform for Public Speaking


Fear of public speaking is often cited as the most common phobia, outranking even the fear of death. As Jerry Seinfeld famously quipped, “That means that the average person at a funeral would rather be in the casket than giving the eulogy!” At the same time, the ability to express oneself clearly and confidently in group settings is highly valued and admired. To confront this dilemma, designer Julia Lindpaintner created an application called Orator: karaoke for public speaking. Conceived as a way to make the art of oration accessible and entertaining, Orator gives people the opportunity to improve their own speaking by imitating great rhetoricians of the past and present.

 

Conceived as a way to make the art of oration accessible and entertaining, Orator gives people the opportunity to improve their own speaking by imitating great rhetoricians of the past and present.

 

The product addresses a pain point that Julia had identified in her own life. “I love listening to talks and stories, but never feel confident recounting them or telling my own. That lack of confidence often translates to self-editing and not speaking up—even if I have a lot to say.” Thinking about situations in which she feels uninhibited, Julia identified karaoke as a metaphor that could be applied to public speaking. Populated with a selection of historic speeches, dramatic monologues, and popular TED talks, Orator lets you speak the words of masters as a way to try on different styles, pacing, and techniques and gain confidence in your own voice. As a byproduct, it is likely that the active consumption of this content will make it much easier to retain.

Borrowing from Karafun—one of her favorite apps—Julia designed the application to guide the user by highlighting words at the speaker’s original pace, but provided a way to control the speed of the playback. She also added controls for the audio of the speaker’s voice and the audience reaction independently. This way, the user can practice along with the original, or turn the speaker’s voice down and deliver the speech to the original cheers and applause.

 

Users can practice along with the original, or turn the speaker’s voice down and deliver the speech to the original cheers and applause.

 

Under the guidance of instructor Ayse Birsel, Julia designed the Orator microphone, which plugs into the headphone jack of a tablet or phone, amplifying the voice through the device’s speakers. The microphone marries features of classic Shure microphones with the formal language of digital microphone icons, resulting in a flat, uni-directional microphone on an adjustable stand. Using the microphone with the Orator app unlocks special features, such as real time feedback on performance and voice recording. The act of speaking into a microphone also adds formality to the experience, allowing the user to hear themselves in a new way.      

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Julia is continuing to develop the app, assessing the feasibility of acquiring content and considering additional features to track progress and confidence, reinforce regular practice, and support user-generated speeches. She is gathering feedback on desirable features for a variety of audiences, such as schoolteachers and Toastmasters.

 

Populated with a selection of historic speeches, dramatic monologues, and popular TED talks, Orator lets you speak the words of masters as a way to try on different styles, pacing, and techniques and gain confidence in your own voice.