For executives – AI can serve as a valuable tool for busy executives, streamlining the speechwriting process without compromising authenticity.
For individual contributors – AI can help you be more effective and authentic in your communications without taking over the creative process.
Earlier this year, I faced a challenge. ChatGPT had just come out, and I needed to develop a policy for my graduate students in The Arts of Communication at Harvard Kennedy School. I wanted them to experiment with AI tools in the classroom, but I didn’t want them simply to outsource the writing of their speech.
The solution? I set clear parameters on what not to do and, for everything else, let them use AI as long as they disclosed it.
At Global Public Speaking, we advise executives and emerging leaders on how to communicate effectively. From personal experience, I know that those executives want practical tools to make their lives easier. They don’t always have time to sit and write something from scratch.
I firmly believe in the potential for AI to help us in the process of preparing a speech or presentation. AI is a powerful tool to augment human creativity, not to replace it.
Counterintuitively, I believe that AI can actually make us more authentic because it will free up our time to focus on more creative endeavors. It will also give us new ways to harness our own stories, personality, and style in order to consistently bring our best self to our communication.
We have been using AI at Global Public Speaking for the past two years and I’ve been actively researching new AI tools and technologies. We use AMPLIFY, an AI practice platform powered by Yoodli.ai to help our clients practice their speeches.
Additionally, I have been preparing a new keynote speech on “AI, Authenticity, And The Future Of Human Connection.” Learn more about this topic when I broadcast a live discussion with my friend, colleague, and “AI Whisperer” (according to Forbes), Matt Strain, on October 25.
Five Ways to Utilize AI in Presentations
Here are 5 ways you can use AI in preparing for a speech or presentation. See the end of this article for a disclaimer on the limitations and dangers of AI, and a recommendation to use it much like the driver-assistant function on a car, not as a self-driving car.
1. Preparation: Summarize lengthy documents
It’s easy to fall down a rabbit hole of research before a presentation. In fact, many of our clients over prepare by spending hours on each question they might receive in a presentation. Try an AI tool like Perplexity.ai or Claude to summarize research papers or lengthy documents so you can easily see if they are relevant enough to read in depth as you prepare your presentation.
2. Writing: Find creative arguments or analogies
Sometimes creativity is simply looking at an existing message in a new way. Some of my most creative ideas appear while I’m doing mindless tasks, like drying my hair or washing the dishes. Busy leaders don’t always have time to wait for creativity to strike. Try asking ChatGPT to come up with counterintuitive reasons why your arguments make sense. For instance, you could ask it to come up with surprising reasons why clients should spend more money as opposed to saving during a recession. Let the ideas generated by AI spark your creativity.
3. Editing: Shorten your text (This is a game-changer!)
Brevity is one of the biggest challenges professionals face in their speaking skills. We have so much knowledge in our heads that it’s hard to condense it into clear, concise, actionable language. In our GPS workshops, we recommend participants hand their speech over to someone else to edit, because it’s easier for someone to edit text to which they’re not personally attached. Put your [non-confidential] text into an AI tool and ask it to shorten the text.
4. Practicing: Get feedback on pacing, pausing, and language
Practice platforms like our own AMPLIFY, powered by Yoodli.ai, provide an always-available place to practice your presentations and receive instant analytics on your pacing, pausing, and use of filler or weak words. Yoodli can also summarize your speech and suggest ways to rephrase it. I used Yoodli before recording a new video trailer recently and appreciated how it suggested more actionable language.
5. Preparing for the Unexpected: Identify potential follow-up questions
One of Yoodli.ai’s newer features suggests follow-up questions based on a video you either record or upload. For instance, as I was preparing to record a video about how my keynote, “Lead With Your Voice,” can help the financial services industry, Yoodli asked me these follow-up questions:
- What are some common challenges that leaders in the financial services industry face when trying to build trust through communication?
- Could you share a success story or case study of how your communication and influence techniques have helped a financial institution improve its trust with clients and colleagues?
In the near future, we can expect to see more and more tools that make our lives easier. I’m personally waiting to be able to generate clear, modern-looking slides at the click of a button based on text. Beautiful.ai is helping us get there, and image-generating tools like Dall-E let us come up with creative images we couldn’t have designed ourselves.
Using AI Responsibly: Disclaimers, Common Misconceptions, and Authenticity
Just as AI has the potential to improve our productivity and make it easier to tap into our authenticity, it comes with a number of risks. Here are some disclaimers to keep in mind.
- AI tools are imperfect and can often “hallucinate” or make up facts. Treat whatever information it comes up with like an unverified source that needs confirmation.
- Ultimately, you are responsible for the words you use, regardless of where they came from. Use AI tools like a driver-assisted function, not a driverless function.
- The first prompt rarely works, so we need to continue refining it until we get to the outcome we’re looking for.
- Ask yourself, does this tool bring out my authentic voice, or is it turning me into someone else? Would I be proud of this if my friend/spouse/boss saw it? The copywriting tool Copy.ai recently introduced “Brand Voice,” which detects and leverages your brand’s tone, style, and personality based on your existing content. We’ve had mixed results with this feature but are interested in its potential.
The field of AI is changing on a daily basis, as innovations are happening now that we thought were ten years into the future. We humans have created tools that are smarter and faster than we are, and this will have a profound impact on the future of human connection. I believe it will make the human-human relationship even more important, and as such, the need for human-human communication will be even more critical.
What are your thoughts on AI and the future of human connection? What AI tools are you using in your writing and presentations? We’d love to hear from you.