Overcome your fear of public speaking using virtual reality

No, it doesn't make everyone naked

Public speaking can be an incredibly nerve-wracking experience, but it’s something that most of us will be expected to do at some point or another, whether at a wedding, or a meeting, or giving a full presentation to a hall filled with people. There are some truly terrible pieces of advice out there for overcoming a fear of public speaking, like practising in front of a mirror (why make it easier to spot your facial quirks?), being upfront and telling the audience you’re nervous (don’t talk yourself down!) and the old classic, picturing everyone naked (no, that’s weird).

The best way to overcome a fear of public speaking and develop your skills is probably to practice – just to keep doing it until it’s second nature. The problem with that is it still involves standing in front of large crowds of people and possibly messing up. This is where virtual reality app VirtualSpeech comes in.

VirtualSpeech is an app that works with Google Cardboard and it’s calling itself “the first photo-realistic public speaking training platform.” The idea is simple: you download the app, choose a speaking scenario, put on your headset, and practice in front of the interactive audience. The app offers different scenarios to cater to your situation and audience size. Right now it has an 11 person audience in an Oxford office, or 400 people in a San Francisco convention hall, but there are Bristol wedding and London office scenarios being added soon to provide audience sizes somewhere between these two extremes.

It also has some other neat features to make your practice feel as real as possible, like allowing you to upload your own slides which will be displayed on a screen inside the app, or set varying levels of sound distractions so that the environment feels more real. You can see the app in action here:

Helping people overcome their social fears is such a great use of affordable VR and we think this one could be really effective. By offering the strange faces, intimidating professional environment, and possible distractions that practising at home or in front of friends doesn’t, VirtualSpeech could make the ordeal of public speaking at least a little more bearable.

Right now the app is only available on Android and can be downloaded for free from Google Play, but the iOS version is on the way.