You have a speech coming up; should you use an AI tool like ChatGPT to write it?

I’m preparing to answer that question for my graduate students at Harvard Kennedy School in our class, The Arts of Communication.

For several years, I’ve studied the implications of artificial intelligence in the field of public speaking.

This includes advising AI speech coach companies like Yoodli (Global Public Speaking LLC partnered with Yoodli to create our own bespoke platform AMPLIFY) and beta-testing half a dozen other platforms and apps.

Attending MIT Technology Review’s Em Tech Digital AI Conference last year provided a deeper understanding of the benefits, risks, and process involved in integrating an AI system into my business.

I believe artificial intelligence can be used effectively in a “driver-assist” as opposed to a “driverless” function. It should not replace our speechwriting process, but it can augment the way we prepare.

Generative AI tools such as ChatGPT are helpful in searching for speech topics, overcoming writer’s block, and finding creative ideas for targeting different audiences.

Platforms like Yoodli provide instant feedback on filler words, pacing, and pausing. By integrating ChatGPT, Yoodli offers speech summaries, potential questions to anticipate, and suggestions to make your speech more concise.

And this is just the beginning.

Who am I learning from in this space? Paul Roetzer of Marketing AI Institute with their Responsible AI Manifesto for Marketing and Business, Kevin Roose and Casey Newton on Hard Fork podcast, and Peter H. Diamandis on Exponential Wisdom. Finally, my good friend and technologist Matt Strain who advises companies on generative AI.

Beyond the public speaking use case, I see AI completely changing the way businesses tap into and utilize their knowledge. Businesses can train an AI system on their own data in order to synthesize and summarize it, so they can make more informed decisions.

For my Harvard class, here’s the guidance I’m planning to offer:

If you choose to use AI tools in this class, I expect you to fully document how you’ve used them and describe it in your post-speech survey. You may not use these tools to generate speech drafts because that can hinder rather than aid your learning in this class. You may not submit AI-generated text as your own.

Remember that generative AI is like a qualitative calculator that is correct only some of the time, especially given potential bias and inaccuracy in the information it contains.

Ultimately, you are responsible for the words that come out of your mouth, both figuratively and literally. I expect any speech you deliver in class to reflect your own stories, anecdotes, beliefs, and opinions.

This tipping point in artificial intelligence creates a new technological frontier, and we are all learning as we go. What would you add to this discussion? Share your answers with me at or on LinkedIn.