Feb 29, 2024 - Technology

Generative AI as a speech coach

Illustration of older hands holding a phone with a picture of a podium

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Generative AI tools can not only help you write a speech — they can help you deliver it with confidence.

Why it matters: Two out of three people are terrified of public speaking, and artificial intelligence-powered tools like Yoodli are looking to ease these oratory woes.

Zoom in: Yoodli — founded in 2021 by Google alum Varun Puri and former Apple employee Esha Joshi — has raised more than $7 million from investors like Madrona, Cercano and Paul Allen's AI Institute.

  • It has also struck partnership deals with public speaking organization Toastmasters and executive search firm Korn Ferry.

Between the lines: Fortune 500 executives might have the resources for in-person media or speech training, but generative AI can bring that kind of coaching to anyone, anytime, says Puri.

  • "I want to help people around the world — especially kids in India — speak with confidence. Too many people miss out on opportunities they deserve because they may not communicate effectively," he added.

How it works: The platform can assess uploaded videos of speeches, presentations and pitches and provide feedback on delivery speed, word choice, repetition, eye contact and more.

  • The plug-in can also run in the background of a video call or meeting — though it only hears and records the speech of the Yoodli user — and will provide real-time notes on how you're communicating.
  • It can also help users prepare for tough conversations — like a request for a raise — by gaming out how the conversation could go, or assist with live interview prep by peppering users with pointed questions.

The big picture: There has been a major influx of AI-backed communication tools hitting the marketplace, and 64% of PR professionals have incorporated AI tools into their workflows.

What they're saying: Media trainers Axios spoke with said they could see some use cases for tools like this.

  • "I could see using this for continued engagement with clients and potential 'homework' exercises," says Sarah Brown, founder of media and presentation training firm Brighton Media.
  • It could also be used before a client's first session to help level-set and establish goals for human-led training.

Yes, but: Neither speech coaches nor the Yoodli co-founders view this as a replacement for in-person counsel.

  • "Yoodli is not designed to compete with human coaching," says Puri. "It's a way to augment human coaching and bring it to millions of people."
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