Fun fact: humans are more scared of public speaking than we are of death. Tapping into the near-universal experience of jitters before a class presentation, second-year student Eugenia Ramos Alonso designed Presenter’s Toolkit for an academic setting, to help students who struggle with public presentations become more confident communicators, and empower them to fully express and communicate their ideas.
Equipped with recording hardware and a set of prompt cards, the toolkit allows the student to record, play back, and analyze the content of their presentations, along with their speech patterns. Eugenia deliberately designed a physical toolkit, as opposed to a digital app, arguing that, “We are more likely to remember and become aware of our mistakes if we not only listen to them, but write them down ourselves. Awareness, repetition, and practice are all you need to reduce errors in your speech.”
The kit also includes a mirror, so that the user can practice eye contact while rehearsing.
She also wanted to provide students with something she believes they desperately need: to hear the way they sound to other people. Recognizing the potential cringe factor of hearing your own voice, the toolkit offers users the option to use voice-changing software before playing back their recording—circumventing discomfort. “The voice changing aspect makes the process more approachable, with less pain to the ego. This toolkit records process, because getting better at public speaking is a process,” shared Eugenia.
Recognizing the potential cringe factor of hearing your own voice, the toolkit offers users the option to use voice-changing software before playing back their recordings.
“I think that public speaking anxiety is a common issue among all people, especially students who are new to academia. When articulating concepts that are hard to grasp in the first place, it is easy to become deflated and discouraged when you notice that you did not communicate your ideas, discoveries, or beliefs well enough to others. Once you fail at convincing your teachers, classmates or group members about an idea you are passionate about, sadly this often can lead you to total abandonment of an idea, just because you were ’bad’ at explaining it.”
Going forward, Eugenia will design a website to accompany the kit, where users can share their experiences, vent about their anxieties, exchange resources, and track their progress, in order to motivate others and create a community for students struggling with public speaking.