AI, or artificial intelligence, has taken root in biotech. From lab assistants to drug discovery, AI provides a cheap, quick, and more effective process for advancement. And the AI push is visible within public speaking development, from counting your “uh’s” to determining if you speak with enough passion.
There is no shortage of apps, software, and computer programs that claim to increase your skill as a presenter and public speaker. Many Biotech companies have embraced Artificial Intelligence (AI) apps, software, and programs that offer a “speech coach in your pocket.” Should you whip out your credit card and sign up? And if you have joined the AI coaching bandwagon, what do you need to prepare for while using the app? Here are seven critical factors to consider:
1) Technical Difficulties– Utilization of AI for improved communication skills is a reasonably new technology and there are still technical issues to prepare for: Blank screens, constant reinstallations, “free plans” with little value, outdated versions that require a help desk to resolve, restricted content, a lack of continued learning opportunities after a certain point, lessons that won’t load, and any other tech issue you can imagine. This puts a damper on progress.
2) Lack of Context – Your app may flag you for pausing too long, but if you are a skilled speaker, you can hesitate for an extended amount of time and investors will wait with bated breath in anticipation of what you will say. The app may tell you your pace was too fast or slow, but again, a speaker telling a funny story or sharing a heartbreaking loss will utilize different pacing speeds to help create excitement, momentum, suspense, or surprise.
3) Minimal Support with Execution – Perhaps your app has analyzed that you need a stronger opening to your pitch presentation. Now what? What should you open with? How does a speaker determine why people should listen to them? And if you do decide to create a stronger opening with a personal story, for example, what should it include, how long should it be, and what is the best story to tell?
4) You Can’t Leverage All the Data – After recording a 17-minute investor presentation, your presentation app may list 43 ways you can improve, at which point you will calmly close your laptop, back away slowly, and take a long lunch. But truthfully, this data dump can derail and impede your momentum and confidence. How do you prioritize what will actually make a positive impact on your presentation skills? And is there a preferred order of learning and development? Do you conquer the “umms” first, or focus on your content organization? The decision making is left to the user, who may be so overwhelmed by how terrible they are that they decide just to avoid presentations and public speaking until they have more bandwidth to throw at their investor presentation development.
5) There Is No Accountability – Once your app tells you how subpar of a speaker you are, or even worse, how perfect you are, you are under no obligation to take action. You may also say to yourself, “Well, section three of the feedback doesn’t even apply to the types of presentations I do so I’ll just ignore that section.” The data and analysis to-do’s slip away you as you put out other work fires and respond to urgent emails. And since AI-generated performance tracking doesn’t feel urgent, it falls to the bottom of the pile.
6) Apps Cannot Process Non-Verbal Communication – We all know that non-verbal communication can hold more weight than spoken words. If gestures and body language is such an essential factor to becoming a skilled speaker, how will you incorporate this into the AI feedback? On most biotech teams, there are one or two members who are uncomfortable speaking in public, and will sabotage the pitch with unconscious pacing, wringing hands, and restless legs.
7) AI convenience often backfires – You will hear how easy it is to have a speech coach “right in your pocket,” which is great until your data is lost, or the app won’t load, or you need to update the app every three days for it to work, or you try to share your recording with your team but you mistakenly send a recording of what you need to pick up at the grocery store, and now your colleagues know you use Preparation H which will now be brought up at every holiday party.
The question to ask is: Will an app provide better communication analysis and training compared to a seasoned communication coach? I say no. As a communication coach, I admit I am biased but hear me out:
- Removing humans from communication is counterintuitive. When we speak, we make a direct connection with the listener. We persuade, we motivate, we inform, we educate. Is an app intuitive enough to share data on this type of communion?
- The data has no context. Can an app tell you if your company’s vision statement is “clear,” “inspiring,” or “goal-driven”? Or can it only tell you that you spoke too quickly?
- Can AI presentation software tell you if your current investor pitch inspires confidence in your team? Or will it only tell you that you said, “like” 4 times?
A Winning Combination
To understand how to best leverage AI data with your current public speaking and presentation competencies, a combination of AI software and an experienced speech coach is a robust, successful approach.
As humans, we rarely hear or see ourselves the way others do. We are flabbergasted when someone tells us we rushed through the presentation, or that we said “um’ 47 times. And when you have a recurring session with your communication coach on Tuesdays at 8 am, you can bet that you prepare well ahead of time (late Monday night) so that you can get the most out of your coaching and get specific feedback on what you are currently working on.
There are hundreds of apps available that claim to support and strengthen communication skills, and as a speech coach, I appreciate that data can be helpful as a starting point. Yet, even with the fanciest app or software, relying primarily on data-driven AI-generated feedback is a mistake.
Human judgment is still the most effective central processor. We feel, we see, we observe, all in real-time, when deciding how we feel about a speaker and their content. The best and most efficient way to become a better speaker is to speak out loud to another human being in real-time and get honest, insightful feedback. Whether it’s a presentation for a conference of 3000 people or a pivotal Investor pitch for the funding you desperately need, all Biotech companies require help presenting both their ideas and their team in the best way possible.
The Next Phase in Public Speaking and Presentation Coaching
To be clear, I do see a place for Artificial Intelligence to support public speaking and presentation training. Embracing AI is an initiative at my company, and we are always working to understand how to best support our clients with the smartest tools available.
Since public speaking and presentation AI technology is still in development, smart organizations know that embracing technology alongside human contributions will yield robust growth and professional development for all forms of communication.
To a large extent, AI and Communication skills are combining, and are here to stay. What will be the best use of apps for Investor pitch development is still to be determined. The future of both AI and biotech is being written at this moment. But biotech company’s need more than data on their presentation skills, they need a coaching plan to get them where they need to be. Biopharmaceutical companies can then utilize the AI findings to target their investor pitch weaknesses with a solid coaching program.