A Kansas City startup is plugging into popular gaming technology to improve users’ public speaking skills.
Founded by Tim Wikstrom, PresentR taps Microsoft’s Kinect to analyze a presentation, scrutinizing everything from poor posture to counting how many times you say “um.” Founded in 2013, PresentR’s tech evaluates a user’s eye contact, gestures, voice and posture to offer constructive feedback.
With extensive experience in presentation training, Wikstrom said that PresentR was born out of the desire to help more people around the world develop their presentation skills.
“PresentR really fills the need that I hoped to offer in my small workshops — and that’s to reach millions of people,” Wikstrom said. “I leave people feeling more confident about themselves — that’s my job. And I love that. What I want to do is help people sustain that feeling moving forward and I can’t do that as an individual trainer. … With PresentR, we have metrics. Everything you can improve is quantified into a score.”
To use PresentR, a user plugs in a Kinect motion sensor device, flips on the software and then uploads a Powerpoint presentation. From there, she can practice a presentation to receive overall feedback for improvement or she can train a specific skill, such as posture or voice volume. The software’s analytics track progress and allows users to share results with others.
While training a specific skill such as posture, for example, the software can identify common stances such as “the bouncer” — crossing one’s arms — or “the prisoner” — placing hands behind one’s back.
“It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it — that’s been said many times,” Wikstrom said. “And that is absolutely true. People can be visually distracted by what they see and they miss the message. We have control over that — we help control your eyes, voice, gestures and posture. … The biggest thing people wind up walking away from a PresentR experience is they get to see what we see as an audience and also see how to change the way they perform.”
The company’s software — which it is planning to convert to a cloud-based solution — has yet to encounter a competitor, Wikstrom said. It’s also one of the few business-oriented solutions for Microsoft’s Kinect.
The Kinect is a motion sensor with a “natural user interface” that allows users to interact intuitively and without any intermediary device, such as a controller. With PresentR, the Kinect watches and listens to a user as they deliver a presentation, allow her even to switch slides with a swiping gesture.
Wikstrom said that PresentR is ideal for companies that are frequently sending out staff to present products or services. Now with five staffers, the company is looking for additional financing to build out its cloud platform and boost sales. PresentR is co-founded by Wikstrom and Tammy Palazzo.
To see the service in action, check out the video below.