My Three Cents

The Art of the Microphone

Recently I was sitting in the audience at a prestigious business conference when I realized I couldn’t quite hear what the speaker was saying. It wasn’t a question of whether the volume was loud enough – it was too loud. Nor did the speaker sound like he had a cold, although his words were muffled. It wasn’t the microphone (at least not from a technology point of view). Other speakers did just fine.


But, actually, it was due to a microphone: The speaker evidently didn’t know how to use it correctly. He was holding it too close to his face and distorted the sound. It was ruining his talk. And his opportunity to make a positive impression.

The mic is supposed to be 1-2 inches below your chin, and that optimizes the sound. For a mic on a lectern, the same is true. Too many put clip-on mics closer to their belly button than their mouths.

However, Richard Male, a leadership development consultant to nonprofits and NGOs, advised in his blog, “For all our advances in technology, a lot of bad sound is simply the result of talkers who don’t know how to use a mic.” The conference organizer attends to every detail but the one which is the key to success: getting the message across with clear audio.

My advice: Practice. Don’t take the mic for granted.

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