In Support of Amplified Speech
I don’t write about performing or presenting all that often. I’m a performer and presenter and I like to think I’m pretty good at it. I’ve learned a lot of things in my years and recent experiences suggest that others might benefit from my expertise.
The advice I’m about to give will help you out if you are presenting a panel at a convention, making an announcement at a meeting or even performing on stage. This rule is absolute. There are no exceptions to this rule.
Here it is:
When someone puts a microphone in front of you, use it.
Now, let me tell you why my opinion might be relevant.
At the Minnesota Renaissance Festival, the Vilification tennis show is performed outdoors in the round without microphones. I have done that show for over 25 years and we get an audience of over 500 people for most of our shows. Most of those people (but not all of them) can hear what I’m saying.
I’m pretty damned loud.
You know what I do when someone hands me a microphone? I use it.
I don’t say “you all can hear me, right?” You know why? Because I know that they can’t. I also know that it isn’t my fault that they can’t hear me.
It’s just physics.
What is even worse is when you are in a room doing a presentation and someone asks you to use the microphone and you respond “I don’t need the microphone.”
Well they wouldn’t have asked you to use the microphone unless you did, in fact, actually need the fucking microphone. People don’t ask you to use a microphone because they are trying to punk you. They ask you to use the mic because they want to hear what you have to say.
If you respond by saying, in effect, “fuck you for not being able to listen well enough,” the odds are they are going to rapidly lose interest in what you are talking about. Because they can’t hear you.
What’s worse – they told you they couldn’t hear you. And you didn’t give a shit.
By they way, if you said “I’ll speak louder,” you didn’t make it better.
Because what you really meant was “I’ll speak louder for the amount of time it takes me to say ‘I’ll speak louder’ and then I’ll revert back to the volume I was using before.” That’s what everyone means. The odds are you are not the one person out of 100 who actually makes that claim and then follows through with it.
Even if you are that person, you won’t do it forever. You will quiet down. You will modulate your voice because you don’t want to sound like a Dalek. And then people will ask you to speak up all over again. And you will, inexplicably, be pissed at them because you didn’t listen to them when they asked you to use a microphone!
I work with a lot of people who do a lot of speaking and I don’t know a single one of them who would turn down a microphone if offered. Not even Mark Lazarchic and he is the one person I know who is probably right when he says he doesn’t need the mic. It is always the inexperienced speakers who wrongly claim that everyone will be able to hear them.
Let me tell you something: your sense of self worth does not need to be tied up with how well you can project.
If you can project really well, congratulations! I’m happy for you.
I also think you should use the damn microphone.
I was one of those “I don’t need a mike” folks, but you’ve convinced me, and I will use a microphone in the future, if available.