Do you want to improve your public speaking skills and control your nerves addressing a large crowd? There’s an app for that … and it was developed by a Coronado teacher.
The PD Eyes app designed by Coronado teacher Peter Debrule combines gaming with public-speaking skill development to strengthen confidence and ease the anxiety of speaking before a real-life crowd.
“Educators will have helped their students with the groundwork, the outlines, the research, the format, the styles of speeches, and would have given advice and shown the students how to practice,” Debrule said. “It is up to the student to go home and practice. For many students, individually, this is hard to do and boring for them. This game allows them to take the classroom home with them so to speak.”
The app dropped earlier this month and is available for iPhone and Android users.
The game challenges students to keep their eyes on their audience and to learn the content of their speech. The timer begins when the user hits the start button, and then the virtual audience begins to start raising their hands. The user must keep their eyes on the audience and tap on that audience member, so they will put their hand down and stay seated.
“Otherwise, they get up, say ‘Eyes up! Eyes up! Eyes up!’ and leave,” Debrule explained. “The better you know your speech content, the better your presentation will be. Using the game will help you build your confidence through practice and preparation by presenting in a some-what familiar environment – the classroom.”
The app also addresses the anxiety linked to public speaking, explaining that it is normal to be nervous.
“The important thing is to self-identify how we each get nervous in situations and try to minimize our anxieties so that they are not visible,” Debrule said. “For presentations, it is through our practice, preparation, and experiences that will help us overcome our anxieties. It won’t cure them but help us to overcome them.”
PD Eyes first started as a Performance, Discipline, Visualization (PDV), later shorting to PD Eyes – carrying the same initials as its developer. But Debrule insists it’s just a coincidence and made for a better app logo. His more than 20 years of experience teaching communications is what led to the development of the app.
“We all have witnessed at one time or another someone stand in front of an audience and read their speech or read right off the PowerPoint. This is not a reading class,” he joked. “Communication, regardless if it is social or professional, is one of the most important skills every student needs to learn. It is a foundational building block every individual needs to have to build good friendships, family relationships, and professional relationships. It doesn’t matter what profession a student chooses.”
Debrule hopes to witness first-hand the improvements it makes in their presentation skills. He’s already noticed the difference it has made with some of his English Language Learner students.
“This has helped them with their presentations by making them speak English instead of reading it,” he said. “I never thought it would help in that sort of way. It is a tool to use for improvement. Once they get to the speaking level, they will see how the app will help them become an even better presenter through practice and preparation.”
Debrule definitely sees more app development in his future – possibly in the sports realm – but for now the former coach’s eyes remain focused on his current project.
“Not all of us are natural born speakers,” he said. “Our book even says that more than 90 percent of us need to work harder to become better speech presenters or to look like we are natural speech presenters. This app is for the 90 percenters. I just want to give everyone a tool they can use to become a more polished professional speaker.”