Public speaking training in front of an imaginary or virtual audience: A randomized controlled trial

N. Kang, D. Ding, D. Hartanto, W.P. Brinkman, M.A. Neerincx

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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When preparing for a public speech, practicing with an audience is suggested to be effective in enhancing speech performance. However, it is often impractical to organize an audience to practice a presentation. Virtual reality can provide a solution, i.e., practicing with a virtual audience. This paper studied this practicing technique for enhancing speech performance and people’s training satisfaction. A randomized controlled trial (n = 40) was conducted to compare practicing in front of a virtual audience with another practicing technique whereby the presenter had to imagine an audience while practicing. Individuals practiced their presentations in three training sessions with either a virtual audience or an imaginary audience. Participants’ performance was assessed in an assessment session where they delivered their speech in front of a human audience. The results showed that individuals seemed to benefit more from a virtual audience than an imaginary audience in reducing speech anxiety. The clearest benefit of practicing with a virtual audience was the satisfaction it gave. Participants were more positive towards training with a virtual audience regarding both the training process and its effect on their presentation ability. We anticipate that virtual audiences can be beneficial in motivating individuals to practice their presentation skills.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-97
Number of pages8
Journalannual review of cybertherapy and telemedicine
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Public speaking training
  • Virtual audience
  • speech performance
  • self-efficacy
  • intelligent virtual agents

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