Tools and Apps for Public Speaking Prowess

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I recently shot a couple of new videos for my website. In order to make the videotaping go more smoothly, my videographer, Mike Hensel of InMotion Studios employed a handy-dandy do-it-yourself teleprompter that involved an iPad (with a teleprompter app), an iphone (with an app used to start and stop the teleprompter), an 8 x 10 piece of split beam glass, a piece of black cloth, and a photo frame shadow box. He got the idea off of the internet, from several youtube videos that give explicit directions on how to manufacture these DYI teleprompters. To rent a teleprompter costs upwards of $400. To build one for your own use costs less than $100. And the added security of being able to read your script off a teleprompter is, well, priceless.

It made me think “What other kinds of tools out there can help speakers do their thing better and more smoothly?” After a little exploration, here are a few nifty apps and devices I came up with that might help make your public speaking efforts less stressful and more streamlined:

Presenter Pro (Rexi Media) for IPhone

Dang, I wish I’d come up with the idea for this (free!!!) app that give you tips, videos and practice exercises that can help you improve your public speaking skills. It’s like a mini-encyclopedia (remember Encyclopedias?) of public speaking tips that focus on six key areas: Vistuals, Words, Gestures, Structure, and Rate me. There are all sorts of examples in video or audio form, and various practice exercises, as well as little quizzes that help you retain the info you’ve just read. Until I create my own app (something that’s in the works!), you’ll have to (happily) settle for this robust app!

Teleprompt + for IPad (around $15.00)

This app turns your humble Ipad into a teleprompter… meaning, it allows you to type in or download the text of your latest presentation and then view it after a countdown (“three, two, one…!”) as it scrolls scroll down the screen so you can follow it as you speak. It’s downright fabulous.

Teleprompt + Remote (for IPhone)

If you want to be able to start and stop your Teleprompt+app remotely (meaning, so you don’t have to walk or lean over to your Ipad and hit “on” or “off”), you need this free app! It synchs up to your IPad via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, and is easy to use.

Presentation Clock (Shawn Welch Utilities, $0.99)

This simple app does something truly vital: It counts down time so you don’t go over your allotted speaking time. You can download it to your iPad or iPhone. The numbers fill the screen and are hard to ignore. And you help yourself stay on track by programming when you want the numbers to change from green, to yellow, to red. You can also program the app to give a little “ping” sound when it changes colors, which may be all the cue you need from the stage or podium to wrap things up and stay within your time parameters!

Microphones

As a speaker, I take my own wireless headset microphone to every gig. Knowing I have a great quality mic that I can rely on, that picks up my voice well and won’t fall off whether I’m speaking, running, or dancing, helps me feel infinitely more confident. I use a DPA Cardioid Headband mic, model #4088-F (dpamicrophones.com)—it cost upwards of $500, but has been worth every penny. Another option is the Countryman E6 Omni Earset Mic (Countryman.com). And if you want a system that allows you to have both a hands-free lavalier (lapel) microphone AND a handheld wireless microphone you could use while playing Oprah and interviewing your audience, Shure’s SLC14/93 Lavalier Wireless System comes highly recommended (shure.com). A great source of microphones of all brands and types is fullcompass.com. They’ve given me great service over the years.

DYI Teleprompter

If you want to create your own teleprompter, click on this link. And there’s plenty more where that came from on the internet. If you’re looking for a source for the split beam glass essential to make a working teleprompter, look no further than telepromptermirror.com. Located in Toledo, Ohio, this company can cut and ship the glass to you for less than fifty bucks. Such a deal!

Each one of these products allows you to take better control of your presentations, from start to finish. The more elements you can control in an otherwise out-of-control presentation situation, the more confident you’ll feel– and the more likely you’ll be to knock your presentation out of the park!