PowerPoint is getting smart; smart enough to form its own opinions and tell you if you’re bad. Introducing Presenter Coach.
A few months ago we reported on PowerPoint’s new ability to live transcribe the speech of presenters, and then to translate it into different languages. We were very impressed, especially because it would allow speakers to give their presentations to an international audience.
Now Microsoft are back with another tweak to PowerPoint, one that builds upon the speech recognition capabilities from the previous update. Called ‘Presenter Coach’ the new feature will listen as you rehearse your presentation, then offer feedback on how you can improve. Yes, it judges your performance.
According to Shawn Villaron, PowerPoint Program Manager, “Our belief is that everyone can improve how they present.” Which is true, but we’d be interested to see how effective PowerPoint’s AI internals are at that.
Microsoft say that Presenter Coach will listen out for things like filler words, swear words, and even “culturally incentive” phrases. It can even detect when the presenter is reading the content of the slides out loud. We like to imagine a digital hand reaches out of the screen and slaps the presenter across the face for doing something so heinous.
At the end of the rehearsal (which we can imagine being quite stressful) PowerPoint will produce a report of your efforts. This will show where improvements can be made and how you can tighten the flow and tone of the presentation.
This sounds great… if it actually works. We’d be keen to try Presenter Coach when it becomes available at some point later in the summer. However, we can’t help but feel concerned that glitches in the system, especially at the beginning, could result in some disasters. Presentations can make and break careers, so placing all your eggs into a digital basket might not be worth the risk. Yet.
Until all-powerful AIs are running the world and making decisions for us, it might be best to seek the advice of some human presentation experts.