Are you ready to use Ai to build your public speaking and leadership skills?

Robot Technology” by Alex Knight/ CC0 1.0

So, how will you use generative artificial intelligence to help you improve your next speech or presentation?

That’s the question I asked in an Ai-themed education session at my Cambridge Toastmasters Club meeting on Aug. 17, 2023.

Some people replied they were already experimenting with it, while others were curious.  I remain open to exploring it, with a wary outlook. Yes, I do worry about how generative Ai will impact student – and faculty – learning in my business communication classes at Conestoga College.

Whatever you do, I encourage you not to trust whatever answer an Ai tool like ChatGPT delivers to you.  It efficiently delivers what appear to be facts, but it doesn’t really know anything. Things don’t always go well, even when you ask it to share its sources and references.

How ChatGPT Ai works

Sometimes, Ai chatbots don’t know what to say and “hallucinate” to complete the task. They make stuff up, kind of like the way humans do.

Keep all your fingers

So stay in control of the tool – don’t let that tool control you. As someone who’s used to using power tools in woodworking, control is a good thing.  I still have all my fingers. 

In my experiments with Ai, it often felt like magic. Other times, it was brilliantly stupid.

I’ve sometimes received wrong information in a chat response. Or the words looked pretty, like an empty crystal vase: all packaging and nothing inside.

I’ve found the more precisely I frame a question, the more accurate the response.  Prompt engineering is a thing.  Learn more about how to ask Ai effective questions in this free online course offered by The University of Michigan.

Trying on Ai for size

Yoodli is an Ai company that records your speech or presentation on video and offers speech coaching. Toastmasters International partnered with the startup company, offering a custom interface as part of your membership. Here’s the Toastmasters Yoodli FAQ list.

I used Yoodli to help me prepare for the speech. I found it helpful, offering me a tally of my filler words and reviewing my word choices. I’ll keep experimenting with it.

In 4 Ways to Use ChatGPT in Toastmasters, Mark-Shane Scale of Talbot Trail Toastmasters suggests using Ai to help with Toastmasters club meetings:

  • Generating or Brainstorming a Theme for the Meeting
  • Speech Writing Brainstorming Support
  • Impromptu Speaking Prompts/Questions
  • Word of the day suggestions 

I encourage you to experiment with Ai and explore your comfort level with the technology I believe is here to stay.

Proceed with caution

Sign up for ChatGPT at The basic tier is offered at no charge, but be aware that your data will be used to help the Ai service improve.  So, effectively you’re paying use of the tool with the data you share, and you’re nudged to sign up for the paid version ChatGPT Plus for $US20 a month (as of July 2023).  

Or you can sign up for the Microsoft version of ChatGPT that’s cooked into the company’s Bing online search engine.  You ask questions in a chat, and it offers summarized answers with links to source websites.   Microsoft is also pitching its Edge internet browser as a “copilot for the web.” 

Google’s Bard Ai tool is not yet available in Canada.

To minimize exposing your personal data to any online service or email list, consider creating a “burner” email account. It’s essentially a throwaway email account distanced from your personal or business accounts. Even then, I won’t share any personal or copywritten information with Ai. I don’t know where or how it will be used.

And if you use Ai generated content in a speech, ethically, I suggest you make your research source clear – just as if you quoted a book or a movie. It’s the ethical and human thing to do.