Are you afraid to speak in public? A virtual coach could help you overcome your anxiety


Virtual assistants could become life coaches.

Talking to an assembly is no easy task. Whether at work in front of twenty people or at a wedding in front of a hundred, fear can quickly take over, which makes the task difficult for the interpreter. Far from being inevitable, a new study may have found a solution that helps people gain confidence and deliver their speech with confidence.

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A team of researchers from the University of Pennsylvania has developed a virtual coach to talk about Amazon’s Alexa speakers, Science Daily. This technique would allow anxious people to recognize and modify their negative thoughts. According to the study, the subjects’ anxiety before speaking was alleviated.

“I“Concern to be judged by a human being”

“There is often the fear of being judged by human guards or human therapists”Jinping Wang, lead author of the article, explains. “If we can use a machine like Alexa to provide such training to people with language anxiety or social anxiety, we can help them get rid of their concern about being judged by a human being.”

Amazon’s virtual assitant Alexa. © Pixabay/Hamburgf

So forget the idea of a simple virtual assistant. Instead, Alexa would become a true life coach. In the study, participants dealt with an Alexa in their greetings and expressions, which is either very social or less social. The participants then had to use what they had learned to prepare and give a short speech in front of a room with 20 listeners.

The researchers found that the high-level social situation, in which Alexa adopted a more personal conversational style, improved the user experience by creating a sense of interpersonal closeness to the user. “When you think about the usual interactions with Alexa, they are quite dry and very functional”said Saeed Abdullah, an employee of the project. “But providing some kind of social cues seems to have positive results for users.”

Smart assistants, like Alexa, could be programmed to coach their users and reduce their different types of anxiety without even moving away from home.