It happened again yesterday. At an industry luncheon I was attending, a male presenter — and it’s almost always a man — declined to use the provided microphone.
I see this a LOT, and it’s ridiculous. If you ever wonder whether you need to use a microphone, the answer is YES.
That is why the microphone is there. So you can be heard.
It’s a Guy Thing, and I Don’t Understand
Yet time and again I see men refusing to use the microphone. I’m sure some believe their voices are plenty loud enough, but I get the feeling others think that using a microphone somehow undermines their masculinity, as if it’s a sign of weakness.
Come on, guys. It’s not like we’re asking you to hold a purse or wear a dress. It’s just a microphone!
Yet when presented with the option, so many men will stride to the lectern and proudly announces, “Hey, I don’t really like to use microphones. You all can hear me okay, right? Can everyone hear me?”
No one objects, so they proceed, unamplified.
Why Audiences Seem to Go Along With This
But there are several reasons nobody speaks up:
- Those who are hard of hearing may feel self-conscious about it and don’t want to call attention to themselves.
- Social pressure may stop someone from speaking their mind. It’s easier to go along with the group than to risk standing out.
- Others may have already decided they’re not going to listen anyway, so not being able to hear the speaker is no big deal!
It’s unfair to put your audience in the position of voting on it. Just use the microphone!
7 Reasons You Should Use a Microphone
Why is a microphone so important? Because:
- Most event venues are designed to absorb extraneous sound — audience chatter, silverware clattering, etc. The floors are carpeted, the windows are draped — often the walls themselves are upholstered. In this environment, you need amplification.
- The AV professionals, who know what they are doing, have determined that the room requires it. (But they probably aren’t going to argue with you.)
- Amplification produces a fuller, richer sound, and is thus a more pleasing, comfortable experience for the audience.
- You are probably not a professional performer — a trained actor or singer — who’s adept at projecting and preserving your voice.
- If you’re speaking for a long time, your voice will weaken and become strained.
- Some people are shooting and posting video and the sound will never pick up adequately when you’re not miked up.
- Finally, in the words of my friend (and professional speaker) Jack Vincent: “A microphone saves you from using half of your voice … the shrilly, screechy half.”
Everyone, regardless of physical limitation or proximity to you, deserves a chance to hear you loud and clear.
Just Say Yes
I recognize there are more fundamental aspects of delivering a winning presentation, from structuring it correctly, to creating visually compelling slides, to bringing energy to the room (in fact, here are 100 indispensable presentation tips).
But if people have to strain to hear you (or you have to strain to be heard), you’re sabotaging yourself right out of the gate.
So the next time you’re speaking, if you’re given the choice, I hope it’s clear by now what you should do and why. I will thank you, your audience will thank you, and your vocal chords will thank you.