Anxious about public speaking? Talking to Alexa might help you

Anxious about public speaking? Talking to Alexa might help you

Researchers, including one of Indian-origin, have developed a public-speaking tutor on the Amazon Alexa platform which can be helpful for individuals who fear to talk in front of a crowd.

The tutor enables users to engage in cognitive restructuring exercise — a psychological technique that helps anxious individuals recognise and modify negative thinking behaviours. When users deployed the tutor in a recent study, their pre-speech anxiety was relieved, according to the researchers.

“This study represents a significant shift in our use of smart speakers, from a tool that answers questions to one that acts as a helper or coach,” said study researcher S Shyam Sundar.

According to the study lead author Jinping Wang, users' interactions with Alexa not only helped to ease their speech anxiety, but their feedback suggests that the tutor could be a viable alternative to person-to-person coaching sessions.

The researchers found that the high-sociable condition - through which Alexa adopted a more personal conversation style- provided a better user experience by establishing a sense of interpersonal closeness with the user.

The approach has the potential to assist individuals who are anxious about public speaking, from the comfort of their own homes. IANS

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