William & Mary

Speech software gives business students time and feedback

Tatia Granger

Business professor Tatia Granger heard from students in her Personal Branding for Leadership course that they wanted more time dedicated to speaking in class. The course, focused on building a brand specific to an individual’s leadership capacities, begins with lessons on speech. Granger hopes to teach her students to speak confidently in the workplace, but realized she needed to create more opportunities for speech practice.

With her student’s comments in mind, Granger designed a six and a half week summer course, geared toward part-time MBA students, that would allow plenty of time for students to practice their speaking. Utilizing VoiceVibes, a personal speech coach, Granger’s students were able to practice speaking when it was convenient for them and in ways that fit their learning style.

“I felt like it would not be an intimidating piece of technology to introduce to my students,” said Granger of VoiceVibes.

VoiceVibes uses voice analytics, predictive algorithms, and machine learning to assess and provide feedback on user’s speech. Students record themselves speaking, and the program gives the speech a rating out of ten in a variety of categories including clarity, pace, upspeak, and pausing ratio. It also provides speech tips and offers resources for students to better their work.

The individualized feedback on VoiceVibes is one of Granger’s favorite parts of the program. Students crave quick, positive feedback she says, and the program is able to provide that in a way that she, as one professor in a room with 50 students, cannot.

“Tools like this can help fill the gap,” Granger said.

The program also provides Granger with opportunities to assess her students’ work. VoiceVibes creates class sections and allows professors to listen to student recordings and track their progress. Granger is also able to give specialized feedback, often in categories that the program does not recognize such as tone and volume.

While VoiceVibes addressed the need Granger had for repeated speech practice, it also introduced students to a new tool, giving them the opportunity to master the technology and see the impact it made on their speaking abilities.

Students used VoiceVibes in different ways, some repeating the tasks over and over, while others focused more on the program’s feedback and improved after just a few tries. They were able to practice at home and when it fit into their schedules.

Granger is already thinking of ways she can implement VoiceVibes in her other classes and with her undergraduate students.