Based on our secondary research and literature review, oratorical proficiency is considered to be an extremely valuable skill for both academic performance and career development. However, it's often not prioritized in formal education systems. On the other hand, although research on solely technology-based solutions for learning public speaking are lacking, recent integration of technology in traditional public speaking courses has been proved to be beneficial.
To further explore this problem space, we conducted a series of research to seek technology-based solutions that help students improve public speaking skills.
Initial Problem Statement
How can we help students develop and assess their public speaking skills?
- What attitudinal and behavioral barriers do students face with public speaking? How do they deal with challenges that arise before, during and after a speech?
- How do students prepare for their public speaking assignments?
- What kind of help, if any, do students currently seek out to help them improve their oratorical skills? What is effective about current approaches? What is lacking?
Before diving into other activities, we conducted stakeholder analysis in order to identify relevant parties that affect students’ motivation to learn public speaking, or provide resources for improvement. This map not only helped us figure out who to talk to in our SME and participant interviews, but also served as a framework for interviews questions and a reference for our future solution.
Subject Matter Expert Interview
We did three 60-minute semi-structured interviews with experts in the field of public speaking education, in order to gain insight into how public speaking skills are taught and assessed, challenges for both teachers and students, and demographic and distinctions between different type of students.
+Expert 1. Principle at Consulting Company
Expert 1 runs her own consulting business that offers professional advices for public speakers and public speaking workshops facilitators. She is also a university lecturer in Communication and Journalism.
+Expert 2. Principle Lecturer in Communication
In addition to teaching public speaking course at university regularly, Expert 2 also founded public speaking center on campus, and keeps creating MOOC for public speaking.
+Expert 3. President of Husky Toastmasters
As an experienced speaker, Wei Zuo serves as the President of Husky Toastmasters, a local chapter of the well-known international public speaking club. She also has both academic and professional experience in language education and journalism.
Public Speaking Framework
We created this framework according to our secondary research and expert interviews, in order to find out all the key steps in users' speech preparation workflow. While we chose to focus on only three key aspects in our solution, the other elements are all necessary in this ideal process to build a successful speech.
70-minute activities with our target users, in order to understand students' current behavior and challenges.
10 Students at University of Washington from diverse majors and grad levels.
- 2 undergrad student tutors @ UW Public Speaking Center
- 2 PhD students, 2 master students, and 4 undergrads
Storytelling Activity (30 minutes)
Participants were asked to talk about their last public speaking assignment in detail. (For the Public Speaking Center tutors, this was replaced by field observation of a tutoring session.) The result of this activity was synthesized in the form of a user journey map.
Semi-Structured Interview (40 minutes)
Participants were asked to talk about their current process with preparing and delivering speeches, their challenges with public speaking, and any resources they use to help them.
A Speaker's Journey
After interviewing our participants, we created this user journey map, to better understand how their behavioral, emotional, and cognitive change, as well as identify the critical pain points during the journey.
To further find out how existing solutions worked, we conducted field research by observing two major public speaking training services on the UW campus. During each observation, we took notes of noticeable phenomena and used other methods to gather further information about them later, such as SME interviews and semi-structured interviews.
- Public Speaking Center at University of Washington
- Husky Toastmasters
In order to better understand the landscape of available resources, we conducted an investigation of current products, services, clubs, and educational tools that aim to help people learn and practice public speaking. We wanted to discover who our competitors are targeting, what technology they leverage, and their strengths and weaknesses. We then mapped the existing resources on 2 x 2 matrices to identify areas for opportunity for our design solution, which was also used in the ideation phase.