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Public Speaking Tip #37: Avoid Microphone Mishaps

You’ve practiced your speech a million times in your office, in the car and even in the shower. You’re ready to deliver it. You step to the stage and someone hands you a microphone. But you haven’t practiced with a microphone. The first thing you do is bump the microphone against your body making a loud noise that irritates your audience. You nearly trip over the microphone wire. Then you hold it up to your mouth and everyone can hear you breathing loudly into it. You begin to speak and your voice is far too loud. Your speech is off to a bad start before you have even begun.

So, how do you avoid microphone mishaps? Follow these tips to master the microphone when public speaking:

  • Find out in advance what type of microphone you’ll be using – handheld, lavaliere, lectern-mounted?
  • If you know you’re going to speak with a handheld microphone, practice with one in your hand (or at least with some similarly shaped object in your hand) so that you get used to gesturing properly.
  • If possible, practice your complete speech with the sound system to uncover any problems well before your presentation.
  • Arrive at least 30 minutes early and perform a sound check. Just saying “check one, check two” isn’t good enough. Say a  portion of the actual speech so that the sound technician can equalize the range of your voice.
  • Determine the appropriate distance from your mouth the microphone needs to be to sound good.
  • Beware of distracting vocal noises (popping sharp consonants or heavy breathing) or nonverbal sounds (hitting the lectern or ruffling papers) that might be amplified.
  • Get as familiar with the microphone as you can. Where is the on and off switch?
  • Be careful not to make private comments. Always assume a microphone is on.
  • If you will be speaking with a lavaliere microphone, wear a belt to clip the transmitter on or have a pocket to put it in. You also may want to wear a suit jacket or a blazer to hide the wire.
  • Use a high-quality microphone that doesn’t make you sound muffled.

A microphone can be a great tool to help your audience hear the nuances of your voice, which can help you to better connect with them. If you follow the tips outlined in this post, your microphone will enhance your presentation and allow you to deliver a great speech.

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