This public speaking app misses the point of speaking:
In the last week, a new public speaking app has been making big waves in all the big mags – and some people are really jazzed about it. These dudes are doing some killer PR!
It's called Orai, and… it's trying to take my job from me.
And I’m not gonna lie – my initial reaction was strong:
But!! BUT!!! Coaching requires intuition, relationship, a bird’s eye view of the entire experience – not just the words coming out of someone’s mouth. What about their BODIES?! What about what’s happening in the room? What’s happening in their brain?!?! ACCCCKKKKKK!!
Hey ORAI! YOU ARE TALKING TO A NATIONAL CHAMPION IN ORATORY! Don’t “orai” ME!!
(I grew up with three brothers and have a hefty strain of passionate Irish fiest flowing through me. Luckily, I’ve learned to zen it out a bit. A little. )
But here’s the deal:
We do very different things.
Orai wants to help you get rid of your Ums and your LIKES and moderate your pace for verbal delivery.
Ok – these are fine goals. And for some people – being able to talk into a phone rather than to a person might be a huge relief and help them in their speaking journey. For that, I say YAY! Keep going! If it helps, it helps!
But Orai is missing the point of speaking by a football field.
Who cares if you speak without any filler words – but YOU’RE BORING AS DIRT? (See: most memorized keynotes.)
Or you’re nailing your words per minute rate, but nobody’s listening because the heart of the content isn’t something this audience cares about?
Or you’ve achieved 80% on your word choice – no jargon here! – which is great… but you haven’t done the work to integrate those great words into your body. You might as well be reading this perfectly crafted genius instead of standing up in front of humans who are also experiencing this right along with you.
Perfection kills connection – and the point of speaking is connection.
Coaching – and speaking – is an intuitive art that is as much, if not more, about relationship, mindset and courage than it is about skills. Authenticity – connection – resonance – that electric zing that happens when someone is lit up from inside, eager to share their message? These things don’t happen because of an app.
Yet – speaking IS about skills.
As speakers, we must meet an expected bar of professionalism (or polish) and resonance if we want to earn people’s openness, and their precious attention and time. We can build that in how we interact, what we say, what we wear (yes, what we wear), and the WAY we say what we say – or, how the words live in our bodies.
Once we meet that expectation – audiences are generous, curious, and motivated, if we can show them why they should be.
Your accent, your disability, your vulnerability, a few umms and uhhhhs, your story, your struggle— these don’t have to be liabilities.
Audiences recognize an authentic voice – and give it a chance.
And what that means is that speaking is for EVERYONE – even if your rate of speech isn’t perfect.
And I think my biggest fear in something like this coming out is that it doesn’t actually HELP. It increases people’s anxieties about the WRONG THINGS.
The premise of this app is to help people who are afraid of public speaking – because so many of us are.
But: the most liberating idea that will release us from those fears is that you don't have to be perfect to have an impact. You don't have to say it exactly right. You don't have to erase all those umms, and uuhhhhs and ‘like's.
This app might help youf eel more confident – and if it does – great.
But know this:
Stop worrying about your speech rate – and focus on how those words are landing with your audience.
Stop worrying about your umms and instead integrate your content into your body so it happens less often.
Stop worrying about getting your words exactly right – and instead get the connection right.
[Sidenote: unless your ‘umm’s and ‘uhhh’s and ‘like’s are distracting (and sometimes they are) – it’s not something I want to worry you about. For those who meet this bar of concern, this app might be super helpful – but most of the time, audiences don’t even notice a few filler words thrown in there because they do it, too. ]
This app wants to erase your vulnerabilities.
But what I’m here to tell you is your vulnerability is the very thing that will connect you to your audience.