HOW TO PRACTICE PUBLIC SPEAKING VIRTUALY? VR AS A METHOD OF DEALING WITH STRESS BEFORE PUBLIC SPEAKING.

HOW TO PRACTICE PUBLIC SPEAKING VIRTUALY? VR AS A METHOD OF DEALING WITH STRESS BEFORE PUBLIC SPEAKING.

Can VR applications help reduce anxiety in public speaking?

A Gallup study found that four out of ten people in the United States suffer from glossophobia (fear of public speaking). Stress in front of an audience may result from fear of judgment of others, loss of respect in one’s professional environment, the need for exposure or, finally, the size of the audience. Can VR technology help us deal with stress?

What is VR?

Virtual Reality (VR) is defined as an engaging, realistic 3D experience that incorporates feedback from the movement of our body. This means that we can view and, so to say, empirically experience virtual objects in space as if they were real. Thanks to this, the effect of immersion is obtained, i.e. immersing all senses in virtual reality.

What is the use of virtual reality?

VR technology is mainly used in computer games. Children and adults can also learn in a very empirical way with VR. Solutions such as The Stanford Virtual Heart, where we learn about the individual elements of the heart, Curiscope, which enables the learning of the human body, zSpace with lessons in many disciplines such as biology, geography, music or maths, or Eon Reality, which has an extensive library of various lessons are some of the many educational solutions. On the other hand, Google Expedition can be a great tool for learning geography and architecture. With one click, it takes us to different places in the world, even to a space station. In the study, Ebali and Ebadijalal used the Google Expedition tool and verified how it would affect the willingness to communicate and language skills of learners for the language exam. The use of VR made users more motivated, showed enthusiasm and self-confidence. Educational solutions can be a great support for parents, teachers and lecturers in times of a pandemic, when we have a limited possibility of real exercise.

Thanks to VR, we can also visit museums and art galleries using, for example, Thersholds. Especially for people with disabilities, it may be the only option to “go out” for a walk in the forest or traveling. Sports training at home can be much more pleasant, which is made easier by the application, in which, while riding a stationary bike at home or at the gym, we can choose the scenery and travel through it while staying indoors.

VRT- Virtual Reality Therapy can help in fear of public speaking

Virtual Reality Therapy (VRT), i.e. a therapy that allows patients to come into contact with stimuli similar to reality thanks to VR, is becoming more and more popular. Extensive research into VRT confirms the effectiveness of this technology in the treatment of various mental disorders. With this tool, you can treat, for example, a phobia against public speaking. Lindner, in his study of 50 people with clinically proven public speaking anxiety, showed that patients following a four-week program of VR treatment reduced their anxiety levels by almost 7%. In the one-year experiment of patients diagnosed with PSA (Public Speaking Anxiety), VR was used in the mainstream of cognitive-behavioral therapy. Patients were exposed to stressful stimuli. The effectiveness of VRCBT and classic CBT was at a similar level. However, over two-fold fewer patients discontinued VR therapy. The effectiveness is also confirmed by other studies that have shown that VR is effective in treating social phobias within a 12-week process. Harris found that just 15 minutes of exposure effectively reduced the fear of public speaking. Another study measured stress levels before and after training, which consisted of four sessions of audience exposure. The declared level of anxiety dropped noticeably.

Using VR goggles to practice public speaking

In their research on a group of 40 people, Pertaub and colleagues showed that with the appropriate responsiveness of avatars that served as a virtual audience, it is possible to use Virtual Reality to investigate and treat anxiety related to public speaking. In turn, El-Yamri and colleagues have created a VR-based system that allows you to practice speeches in a safe environment. In their solution, in addition to the view of virtual viewers, they also added their reactions and gave real-time feedback based on the content of the presentation, tone of voice and the speaker’s gaze. The created algorithm was mainly based on the tone of voice and reflected the real reactions of the audience with great accuracy. Thanks to such solutions, it will soon be possible to practice speeches without leaving home.

Benefits of practicing public speaking with VR

Other studies also confirm that VR users who were fully immersed in VR experience with audience were able to effectively practice speeches and reduce their fear. Lindner also showed that as little as three hours of such training can lead to reduced levels of anxiety while speaking. Moreover, the respondents also declared a greater sense of their own competencies, as well as a lower level of catastrophic thoughts. On the other hand, Takac and colleagues showed that a virtual environment is able to induce anxiety, and that short and repetitive training session allow you to get used to the situation and reduce this anxiety.

Mostajeran and colleagues investigated the impact of virtual audience size on social anxiety using VR. The subjects were exposed to an audience of three, six or fifteen people. Participants’ heart rate with three virtual observers was higher than when there were six or fifteen people in the audience.

Conclusion

What is the conclusion of this? Virtual Reality Therapy (VRT) can effectively reduce the level of anxiety and be an adequate tool also for reducing the fear of public speaking. Pertaub and colleagues have shown that realistic and responsive avatars used in therapy can reduce anxiety, and thanks to this technology, it is also possible to effectively practice presenting to an audience. Regular exposure and practice with the use of VR reduced the level of fear of public speaking.

For people who want to practice performing in front of a virtual audience, I recommend the “VR Speech” app.

Bibliography:

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