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Review: Do You Er... Struggle With Er... Public Speaking?

As a scientist, giving presentations are part and parcel of the job. Be it to peers, supervisors or at a conference, confident speakers communicate their data best. Although Universities try to prepare you for this experience, there’s a certain inevitability about stumbling when it comes to being up on stage.

From someone who has sat through their fair share of presentations, as well as given a few, it’s clear that everyone has their own nervous ticks. From excessive use of the word ‘like’ or playing with their hands, nervousness is unfortunately obvious.

Well, now there’s an App for helping improve your presentation skills. Meet Ummo.

See Ya, Filler Words

The principle behind Ummo is very simple, but really nicely implemented. You’re first required to give your speech or presentation to Ummo, while it listens carefully to what you have to say. A good presentation should always be practised, so when you are, have Ummo running in the background.

Ummo will then listen to what you have to say. During this listening, every time you use a filler word such as ’Umm’ or ’Basically’ - I’m terrible for this one - or the big one for us Brit’s, ’Like’, Ummo will highlight this in red and make an alarm sound. If you begin to hear this a lot during your speech, you know that you’re not performing to your best levels. Ummo comes with a defined 9 filler words, but you can chop and change these as you see fit. Adding terms like ‘Kind of’ and ’stuff’ can be really useful for scientists, as it encourages you to talk more accurately about the data that you are presenting. Perhaps the real beauty of Ummo comes with it’s in depth data analysis. It’s able to give you feedback on the number of filler words you use, the volume that you spoke at, the speed at which you spoke and even the length and number of your pauses.

One of the big no goes in presentations is speaking too fast for your audience to follow, and not allowing them enough time to look at your plots and figures. With Ummo highlighting your speed and your pauses, you can identify these points in your talk and help to speak at a more comprehendible rate, as well as allowing adequate time for data to be absorbed by your audience. Ummo is fully equipped to be the one stop shop for everything to do with your presentations. I can see it becoming an invaluable tool for me, and at just £1.49 on the App Store it’s a bargain. A small price to pay for what could make a priceless difference to your next talk.

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