Astound teaches you how to confidently communicate in a variety of situations, from giving a presentation to going on a date. A voice and speech coaching app created by a professional voice coach and speech therapist, Astound features over 100 articulation, breathing, phonation, and stretching exercises to make you a better speaker. There are over 30 exercises available for free, but beyond that, you’ll need a subscription. The cost starts at $6.49 a month, but decreases if you’re willing to commit for longer.
Astound provides an incredibly well scaffolded and organized learning experience. The first time you use the app, it asks you to set a goal for your practice, identify how confident you feel in your speaking abilities, and choose the time of day you would like to be reminded to start practice. Based on this information, you recieve a 30-day learning challenge with daily sessions built to fit your goals. Each session is five minutes long, and includes four video exercises and information about what these exercises help achieve. You swipe through the lessons slide by slide, and at the end you’re prompted to record a short audio message. These are saved, so you can listen and compare the audio over time. Astound also provides visual feedback for each recording based on pitch and tempo.
In addition to the 30-day challenge lessons, Astound offers vocal exercises for specific needs. For example, there are sets of exercises geared toward articulation, pitch, and tempo. There are also work-related exercises (e.g., making important calls, customer care) and exercises for personal matters such as going on a date. There are even exercise plans aimed at remedying mumbling and lisps.
Astound mainly offers vocal warmup exercises and information about the exercises without providing much actual speaking practice. Although it prompts you to record an audio message each day, that audio message is only one sentence long. Astound could be improved if it provided more speaking opportunities comprised of longer content and different circumstances, or if it allowed you to record your own content and provided feedback on it. For instance, it would be great to not only engage in work-related or romance specific content, but to have feedback on the specific pitch, pace, and articulation suitable for each. The way I talk to someone on a date will hopefully differ from the way I conduct a meeting, so having situation specific speaking feedback would provide a richer experience to the app’s vocal practice.
Astound offers meditative vocal exercises and warmups to help you feel more confident as a speaker in any context. It’s not a quick fix; rather, it’s scaffolded so you grow as a speaker over time. It’s best for adults who want to infuse their speech habits with poise, confidence, and composure.Image: by Tyler Nix via Unsplash