Public speaking today can be enhanced by amplification and visual aids. While the message must have meaning, it cannot connect with the audience if it is not heard and understood! Technology has improved sound systems and media and will continue to do so into the future. A dynamic public speaker knows how to use microphones and media well and learns to make the sound technician her best friend.
The marquee of a church in the New Orleans area regularly posts the pastor’s sermon title. One week the sermon was entitled “The Devil is in the Sound System.” There was obviously a story to be told! Most speakers can tell their own stories about problems with the sound system and visual aids. There is no need to fabricate stories involving technology since they happen naturally. Speakers must simply be prepared for the unexpected.
I (Rhonda) enjoy teaching this session in my public speaking class because I have so many stories to tell. On one occasion, I was speaking for a women’s conference at a church across the street from a funeral home. The sound technician warned me that occasionally the frequencies connected and the ambulance service broadcasted into the sanctuary. Later, while I was speaking, I opened my mouth and a deep male voice called for an ambulance to pick up a dead body. I was stunned though the church members chuckled at this familiar interruption. Another time, I was teaching a seminar that included a video clip. When I moved my slides ahead, an aerobics video abruptly began. We all laughed as the technician hurriedly tried to find the correct video. I have learned to “expect the unexpected” as well as “go with the flow” when using microphones and media.
One who often speaks publicly must be aware of microphone usage. Several different types of microphones are available. Some are stationary while others are mobile. A podium or stand microphone is most typical especially when multiple speakers are on the platform. Handheld microphones are often used by musicians and may also be used by speakers. They may be wired or wireless, have long cords or be cordless. A lavaliere or lapel microphone clips on the speaker’s clothing and allows mobility while speaking. Headset or over-the-ear microphones have become popular in recent years. They offer flexibility and mobility as well as good voice quality and minimal extraneous noise. A guest speaker typically uses the amplification system provided by the host church or company. Professional speakers and musicians may travel with their personal sound systems. While many people may be fearful of microphones, they should be a speaker’s friend. Microphones can be intimidating, and a speaker must remember their purpose.
Consider a few other do’s and don’ts when using a microphone.
- Do dress with a microphone in mind. Don’t forget a lapel and a belt or waistband.
- Do wear minimal jewelry and accessories. Don’t let jingling or scratching distract from the speech.
- Do consider hand gestures. Don’t knock a stand microphone or cover a lapel microphone with your hand.
- Do check the echo effect. Don’t be distracted if speech reverberates in the room.
- Do keep on speaking. Don’t let microphone problems or sound system issues disrupt the flow of the message. When sound problems occur, continue your message and let the technician work out the problem.
- Do remember when the microphone is on. Don’t make embarrassing comments or inappropriate statements.