Giving a presentation is daunting, even when you’re backed up by brightly coloured and info-rich PowerPoint slides. That said, any task can be made easier with practice, though it’s hard to mark your mistakes when you’re just reading in a room to an imaginary audience.
In comes “Presenter Coach”, a tool for Powerpoint, that helps you improve your presentation skills, sans audience.
PowerPoint presents: Presenter Coach
Presenter Coach has been available for PowerPoint’s web application for some time already, and is now coming to desktop and mobile, making it so you can use the tool “when and where you need it, on the go or at home”, says Microsoft.
The app uses AI to help you prepare a school project, a professional presentation, or even a wedding speech. It analyzes the way you present and speak, then gives you feedback on your pace, pitch, volume, grammar, repetition, even your use of “um”s and “ah”s to pad for time. All of this is packaged into a neat little report shown to you at the end of your rehearsal run. This is a great tool for improving public speaking dexterity and confidence, an invaluable skill to have personally and professionally.
That’s not all
Presenter Coach has also made some self-improvements in the form of a few new features for its web version.
Knowing that presentations aren’t just about how you sound but how you present entirely, Presenter Coach can now critique your body language while you speak using your device’s camera to simulate the kind of PowerPoint presentation you might give online. It will assess things like how well your audience will see you, as well as your level of eye contact.
Additionally, the AI coach can now catch out on potential over repetition in your presentation. It’s a common mistake nervous (and even confident) speakers can be unaware of, and can be very distracting for an audience. Presenter Coach will notice repeated words and phrases, point that out to you, and even offer replacements if the repetitions can’t be tossed out outright.
Finally, Presenter Coach can give you pronunciation advice during your rehearsal. If it thinks it hears you mispronouncing a word, it will display the word and offer help practising it, such as by providing a recording of the word for you to listen to and then copy. This feature is based on “General American English” for now, and PowerPoint recognizes that accents and variations on the language change how certain words sound, so you can always turn the feature off it isn’t helpful to you.
Microsoft says that it appreciates feedback on these new additions to PowerPoint and Presenter Coach, uses it to improve the experience for everyone. The tool itself is a great way to practice speaking without the need for a teacher or audience for feedback, so that actual public speaking is a less daunting task than before.