Speaking: Three Reasons to Use a Microphone

Watch behind the scenes at any event long enough and sooner or later you'll hear a speaker refuse the microphone, saying "That's ok, I can manage without it."  Perhaps they can 'manage', but they should still use the microphone for reasons that might not be so obvious.

People can't hear you. Maybe you could manage to make yourself heard at the back of the room, but this is in fairly ideal circumstances where everyone is quiet, the acoustics are good and you are using full power all the time. Reality is different. Even people standing still in silence still make noise. There are other noise sources, too, like air conditioner fans and equipment cooling fans -- maybe also traffic noise from the street outside. You might also start with a bold clear voice, but most likely you will not sustain it for the entire speech. And don't try asking people if they can hear you. Nobody ever says that they can't hear you. They might even say that they can, but then not follow your ideas because they only catch some of the words.

Your voice is less stressed. You might be able to fill a large room by raising your voice, and that is exactly what people did before amplification was invented.But this increases the stress on your voice; For a ten-minute talk you can probably sustain it without too much trouble, but if you have to speak for any length of time you will end up losing at least part of your voice. If your work involves regular speaking this can become a serious problem and one that is almost entirely avoidable. There are times when you have to stress your voice but never do this voluntarily.

You sound more persuasive. There is a third reason for using a microphone that is much less well known. When you are not struggling to fill a large room with your voice you can use a natural speaking voice that sounds more conversational, more relaxed and more persuasive. There are other ways to make your voice sound more persuasive and a voice coach or even a singing coach can help with that, but simply by using a microphone you can manage your voice more easily.

But is there a time when you should refuse the microphone? The only time that I would not use the microphone provided is when it doesn't work. Before giving up try asking at the sound check -- you did turn up early for the sound check, didn't you? -- if the problem can be fixed. Perhaps you just need to change microphone, maybe the batteries need replacing or maybe the amplifier settings can be adjusted. If there is still a serious problem -- hiss, hum, feedback, distortion or whatever -- then you might reluctantly have to turn it off and continue without it.

Lectures, Workshops, Coaching & Writing

For lectures, interactive workshops, one-to-one coaching and writing about public speaking, influencing and other topics you can contact Andrew Hennigan at speaker@andrewhennigan.com or 0046 73 089 44 75.  One-to-one coaching can be face-to-face in the Stockholm area or through Skype anywhere in the world. Learn how to go from good to great, great to awesome or just staying awesome but spending less time on each presentation.


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