How I’m Using Virtual Reality to Prepare for a Speaking Engagement

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Photo Credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/69325672@N03/28163733360/">Joël Paynel</a> via <a href=”http://compfight.com">Compfight</a> <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/help/general/#147">cc</a>

A few weeks ago I walked into my local AT&T store and tried on The Samsung Gear VR headset. I wasn’t sure there was going to be any practical use for it until I experienced the public speaking simulator. A few days later I went back to the store and added a new Samsung Galaxy phone to our business account. As a speaker, I knew that the public speaking simulator would be invaluable to me in the process of preparing for speaking engagements.

Visualization on Steroids

If you’ve studied anything about self-improvement, you’ve probably been exposed to the idea that the brain can’t distinguish between something real and something imagined. Nearly every self-help book ever written talks about the power of visualization. But if you’ve ever tried to visualize, you know it’s a bit like trying to meditate. Your mind wanders in a million different directions.

Using a virtual reality headset is visualization on steroids. You don’t have to imagine a particular environment because that environment has already been designed for you. You quite literally see the thing that you’re trying to visualize.

The Setup of the Public Speaking Simulator

The public speaking simulator feels surprisingly real.

  • You have the ability to load your own slides
  • Those slides are projected on a screen behind you
  • You’re standing on an elevated stage
  • There’s a timer that helps you to keep track of the length of your talk
  • There’s an audience with people who are actually making eye contact with you.

For the most part, speakers rarely have access to the venues in which they are speaking. They usually have to practice in the comfort of their own homes or offices. But with the public speaking simulator they can recreate the experience of standing on a stage in front of an audience.

It doesn’t matter if you’re in your hotel room or standing in the middle of the desert. You just strap on a headset and you’re transported. Basically, the brain is being exposed over and over to the sensory experience of standing on a stage. Just imagine what this will do for people who are terrified of standing in front of a room and delivering a talk.

Challenges

Since the talk that I’m practicing for at the moment is about 45 minutes in length, I move around a lot. When I take off the headset I’ve sometimes found myself in another part of the room. Occasionally I run the risk of bumping into things in my physical space. And when you take off the headset you tend to feel a bit dazed.

The higher end headsets like Oculus and HTCVive actually put up a green grid when you’re about to bump into something in your physical space so I assume that would solve the problem. The first time I tried one of the higher end headsets a member of the team at AltspaceVR jokingly said “welcome to the matrix.” That’s about what it feels like when you are transported into one of these virtual worlds.

Like any technology that’s in its infancy, it’s not exactly flawless. It’s hard to believe but there was a time when you had to carry around a cellphone in something the size of a briefcase. My friend Matt likes to say that VR is where cell phones were 25 years ago. Just think about how much we’ve progressed. Given the rate at which technology continues to change we’re just at the beginning.

While some people have written virtual reality off as just another trend, I’m convinced that it’s going to be a game changer, especially for situations in which visual motor rehearsal has played a significant role for decades. If you haven’t had a chance to experience it, go to an AT&T store, put on a headset and decide for yourself.

I’m the author of Unmistakable: Why Only is Better Than Best (Available for Pre-Order on Amazon and Barnes and Noble). Each Sunday we share the most unmistakable parts of the internet that we have discovered in The Sunday Quiver. ​*Receive our next issue and learn more about book pre-order bonuses by signing up here.​

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