If you'd rather do just about anything else than speak in front of a crowd, you are most certainly not alone. There's an old rumor that people fear public speaking more than death. While it's not accurate, it wouldn't be so popular a myth if it didn't at least feel a little true.
If the idea of giving a best man toast or major work presentation gives you anxiety, a virtual reality app called VirtualSpeech might help you overcome those feelings. According to its website, VirtualSpeech is "the first photo-realistic public speaking training platform" that can help you become a master public speaker.
The tool offers users numerous scenarios to mirror the real-life situations in which they might be speaking. For example, a user can practice speaking in front of a virtual 3-D 400-person audience for his upcoming best man speech, or in front of an intimate crowd to mimic the conference room presentation he's giving next week. The main idea is to help a person become comfortable with their surroundings.
Depending on the audience chosen, the user can select different rooms with human-like avatars who seem to be engaged in what the speaker is saying. The app even lets users upload visual aspects of their presentations to help them get comfortable controlling that medium as well.
Here's what it looks like:
The simulator currently works with Google Cardboard and Android, but an iOS version is expected soon. The concept is simple, and certainly a lot easier than asking a dozen of your closest friends to meet up to help you practice a speech.
Of course, you don't necessarily have to download a 3D pseudo-conference room to dull your anxieties. Experts say that practicing does help. According to psychology professor Adam Grant, author of Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success, one crucial tip is to "practice under conditions that resemble the performance as much as possible." (One point for VirtualSpeech.) To do this, you can practice in the venue in which you'll be speaking, or do a dress rehearsal in the same clothes you'll be wearing.
Grant also suggests dimming the lights a bit, so that you don't get distracted by the audience or attempt to (mis)read the group's reaction. Alternatively, if all else fails, you might fall back on the "imagine the audience in their underwear" trick. It might not work for everyone, but it'll certainly make for an entertaining day.
H/T Mental Floss