When and how to use a microphone…

How many times have you seen a speaker fumbling with a microphone at the beginning of a talk?

They seem uncomfortable with the alien object and then look hopefully at their audience: “Do I really need to use this?”

Here’s the thing: An audience will always say ‘yes, use the microphone’ because they have been in too many presentations where they could not hear the speaker. Especially at the beginning of a talk, they have not yet adapted to the speaker’s voice and personality.

The microphone, however, has nothing to do with hearing and everything to do with the speaker’s ability to enclose the audience in their own presence. The power of a speaker’s voice is simply a function of the power of his/her presence. By assessing vocal ability, one really assesses a speaker’s ability to invite an audience into their way of seeing things and to embrace the entire audience with their presence.

The awkward fumbling with the alien object (microphone) and the pleading question as to whether or not to use it, just makes the audience feel certain you will not be able to accomplish this. They feel they must save you from embarrassment and themselves from battling to follow and so they answer ‘yes, use it’.
Whether or not the speaker can actually grow their presence to embrace them, the audience cannot know. Only the speaker knows if they can do that.

How do you know if your voice and presence will carry??

In a room the size of a double garage with about 50 people, most speakers can do it. It takes special speakers to do it in larger rooms with larger audiences. You need not worry about microphones ever again in that size room with that size audience and no other noise (coffee machines or lawnmowers in the back ground).

In a larger room, with a larger audience, or with background noise, you need to work your voice. If you don’t know how, use a mic. But PLEASE, COME EARLY AND TEST IT! When the audience arrives, you must be ready. No sound tests, no fumbling. You must feel comfortable with the extension and at ease with using it, so your audience will have confidence in your ability to invite them into your presence through it.

How do you establish vocal and personal presence effectively?

You have one of two choices:

1. Ease into it by making small talk for a sentence or two to let them get used to your voice, your accent and personality (even if they know you, people need this time to adjust). If you were unsure of anything that you could not test without the audience, like the effect of their bodies on the acoustics, this is your chance to find out and adjust.

2. Come in with immediate power and confidence.
That means you decide beforehand to use the mic or not. You capture them from the get go. You do that with an upright, open posture, deepened breathing, eye contact, a resonating voice and an empathetic energy. In short you use the Confident Speaker’s ABC.

Book now for our workshop on the Confident Speaker’s ABC. 11 November in Cape Town.

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Also see our other November workshops:

09 Nov – Team Innovation Read more

10 Nov – Improvisation Skills for Coaches (NEW) Read more

17 Nov – Customer Interaction (NEW) Read more

18 Nov – Story Strategies for Facilitators (NEW) Read more