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SpeakEasy: Making Public Speaking Easy

Speakeasy: Public Speaking Made Easy

Speakeasy is an app that helps you improve your public speaking skills. This page is a chronicle of the research and design process.

The topic for this year's competition is "BodyData: Designing for Qualities of the Quantified Self." This is a very timely topic, with dozens of devices like Fitbit, Jawbone, etc. popping up every month. However, our goal from the start was to think outside of the box. We wanted to move outside of this mainstream use and look at how we could apply the idea of quantified self in less traditional realms. We read lots of articles and joined quantified self forums. We talked with our friends who use these types of products and professors who teach these kinds of things (e.g. personal informatics).

We had settled on an idea revolving around posture. We all slouch, we all know we shouldn't, but it's just so damn hard to remember to sit up straight. Once we found out there were existing solutions (that were pretty good), we were a little disheartened.

So we went back to the drawing board. But instead of going to square one, I wanted to look at why we were attracted to posture.

  1. It was that it was relatively easy to quantify with existing technology.
  2. Its effects were multiple:
    1. physical health
    2. psychological - confidence
    3. others' perception of you

Posture can be incredibly important for more than just a straight back. This realization led to a pivot in my thinking. Let's not think about posture as the end goal, and instead look at it as a means to an end. Who needs to improve their confidence? I thought back to a brilliant TED Talk by Amy Cuddy. People need help with their public speaking. An estimated 75% of people have some form of anxiety when public speaking. This is a huge need.

It's funny, none of us were really that thrilled about our posture idea. But as soon as I suggest public speaking, all of our eyes lit up. We instantly knew it had a lot of potential.

Our research consists of: literature review, interviews, personas and scenarios, and ethnographic research. The literature review gave us a baseline of what has been explored in this area, and what things we might want to look for in our interviews. We conducted 15 interviews of students, working professionals, and professors who teach public speaking, communication, or negotiations. We had a good mix of male/female and domestic/international interviewees. The interviews led to development of personas and specific scenarios.

Toastmasters International is a recognized authority on public speaking. We sat in on several meetings, participating as guests, to better understand their method and the different user roles. This was invaluable research, and gave us lots to think about.

With all this research out of the way, we needed to consolidate our findings. We chose to use an affinity diagram. But instead of a wall, we used a whiteboard table, something I highly recommend. We were all able to work at the same time and making changes is as easy as erasing and rewriting.


We had already done extensive sketching as part of our research process. It was pretty easy to start user testing right away by converting our sketches into paper prototypes. From there, we moved on to several rounds of user testing with digital prototypes.

All of the following images are from our med-fi prototype. We decided to use Axure so that we could easily have the interactivity in order to create an as realistic as possible experience for our testing environment. Beacuse this is a new idea, the goal was to do Wizard of Oz testing where the focus was on the experience of using a system such as ours, not the look and feel or usability necessarily.

This is the Highlights Page that gives quick feedback so the use knows what he does well and where he needs improvement.

This is our Metrics Page. It shows the details of the user's performance broken down by the metrics that we identified in our research as important to public speaking.

This is the Talk History Page that shows the user's history across practice sessions for a particular talk. We wanted to make sure there was an easy way for users to see their improvement as they prepare for a presentation.

This is the User History Page. It shows the user's complete history of talks with SpeakEasy. Users can see how they have improved over time and can identify areas to focus on in future talks.

Below is a screenshot of our final design for the detailed metrics feedback page.

final metrics.PNG