Microsoft has rolled out a new preview capability for its PowerPoint Presenter Coach that will assess a speaker's body language during a virtual meeting presentation.
The company has also extended its AI-assisted presentation coach in PowerPoint on the web to the PowerPoint apps for Android, iOS, macOS, and Windows 10.
Presentation Coach debuted in 2019 in PowerPoint for the web as a feature that allows people to rehearse a presentation and prepare them to deliver it naturally, effectively and with confidence. It basically helps people improve public speaking skills by pinpointing common mistakes.
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The ability to read body language is a new direction for Presenter Coach, which otherwise focuses on voice and relies on the device's microphone to provide feedback. The body language analysis uses the device's video camera and aims to help people improve presentations in remote meetings over Teams, Meet or Zoom.
"When you are presenting virtually, it is important to ensure that your audience has a clear view of your face, that you maintain your glance towards your audience, and ensure you have left appropriate distance between you and your camera to deliver an engaging presentation," says Derek Johnson, a principal PM manager for PowerPoint AI.
The Presenter Coach summary report for body language offers feedback on 'clear view' or how well an audience can see the presenter, the speaker's distance from the camera and eye contact with the camera. Currently it's available in preview and limited to PowerPoint for the web.
But this Presenter Coach body language feature only focuses on the face and shoulders. Microsoft has broader ambitions for reading body language in physical meetings too. Last year, a Microsoft patent surfaced detailing a system to assess the quality of in-person meetings. The "quality monitoring device" could consist of light, infrared and depth cameras to capture body language and facial expressions, while the mic might detect boredom. The ideas in the patent seem to dovetail neatly with Outlook Calendar.
For voice, PowerPoint's Presenter Coach gives users real-time tips on several aspects of presenting slides, drawing attention to things like the pace and pitch of a speech.
It also picks up on filler words like 'umm' or 'you know', poor grammar, verbosity, lack of originality, and use of culturally sensitive terms. And it flags when a presenter appears to be just reading from a slide.
After the rehearsal, users get a summary report with feedback on how they can improve their presentation delivery. The feature uses AI-power speech technology to analyze the speaker's delivery.
On Windows, users can try the feature by going to the Slide Show tab and in the Rehearse group selecting "Rehearse with Coach".
Other preview critiques arriving in PowerPoint for the web assess the use of repetitive language, and pronunciation. The new repetitive language feature detects repeated words and displays synonyms for the speaker to consider. There's also a score for pronunciation that provides suggestions on how to properly pronounce a word.