Most of us have a brand new umbilical cord. A digital one. Attached to our phones. It’s like a lifeline that keeps us sane and connected to the world. I actually sleep with mine (using the Sleep Cycle app). However… our smartphones can also be an incredibly powerful public speaking sidekick.
Over the past couple of years, I’ve used and tested many different apps. Most of them have come and gone, but I’ve kept a few that I use everyday. Here are my top 5 iPhone apps that will make your life easier and more productive:
Evernote is a great app that can help you remember EVERYTHING. If you’re anything like me, you’ll get a great presentation idea or an anecdote will surface from long term memory that would make for a great speech opening… but then within seconds it’s gone! Unless you record it in time. I used to carry a small Moleskine notebook and a pen, but on top of a wallet, phone and a briefcase – it was never really there when I needed it. Enter Evernote. You can save photos, audio, text, links, make checklists and so much more on the fly with your mobile device. It’s available for iOS, Android, Mac and Windows.
It seamlessly syncs across all platforms and best of all, it’s free! All the information taken from various sources can be stored in a single place and you can even share with your colleagues right from the app. Here’s a great post on how Matt Madden uses Evernote to store his ideas and teach.
Many speakers have a habit of putting their important files and presentations on a USB flash drive. What happens if you lose that drive? Or if the file is somehow corrupted? DropBox is a cloud storage system that works across all platforms including Windows, Mac, iOS and Android. It automatically syncs a folder on your computer with their servers and you can get access to your files from anywhere with an internet connection. DropBox saved my butt a few times and I’ve come to rely on it for safe storage of all my important files. So… if my laptop explodes before the next presentation, I can still pull it up on a different computer and get on with the show.
The first 2.5 GB are free and you can earn an extra 500 MB for every referral you send. If that sounds like too much work, they have a couple of paid options that are more them enough for most professional speakers to keep all their presentations, financials, contracts and images in the cloud. Click here to check out DropBox.
One of the best ways to improve your presentation skills quickly is to see and hear yourself speak. It’s painful and often comes across as cruel and unusual punishment… but it works! This app is a great, high quality audio recorder. As far as I know it’s only available for the iPhone and iPad and there’s a free version as well as a paid one. I sprung for the pro version sometime last year and never looked back. It’s probably the best couple of bucks you will spend on an app that will make you a better speaker.
If I’m using a mic, I’ll usually set my iPhone on airplane mode and leave it close to a PA speaker. If there’s no mic, I’ll set it on the closest desk with the bottom part of the phone facing me. Quality is usually really great and you can download the files through iTunes. Here’s a post that explains how.
So, this is really nerdy… but usually before going to bed, I’ll pull up my iPad and read up on the latest developments in social media, business, marketing and so forth. I use Pulse and Zite to get fresh content daily, but they don’t come with a way to transfer bookmarks to your computer. That’s where Instapaper comes in. It’s a cross-platform bookmarking tool that you can access from your iPhone, iPad or any computer with an internet connection.
You can set up topic folders and even e-mail links into the app. It’s super slick and I’ve been using it for well over a year now to save some of the best articles I come across for a later reference.
Speaking anxiety gets to all of us. I’m usually fine in the morning, all the way up until 5 minutes before stepping on stage. Then… my palms get sweaty, I get jittery and my breathing becomes a bit shallow. I’ve done this for over 3 years, and the mix of excitement and nervousness still kicks my butt almost every time. I should mention that I do meditate occasionally and I’ve been through a few speech coaching sessions – and the key to get this anxiousness under control is to find a way to calm yourself down. Breathing exercises do a great job, quickly.
Breathing Zone is an iPhone app that helps you relax by guiding you through some simple breathing exercises. The exercises are specially designed to slow down your heart rate and lower the blood pressure. They’re five minutes in length, which is usually to calm down and deliver a killer presentation.
Do you have any favorite apps in your speaking arsenal?