“I don’t need to use the mic for my presentation,” bellows our baritone speaker. “I have a strong voice.”
“Yes, of course you do,” I soothe him. “But please don’t be afraid to use our microphone.”
Photo Credit: Jim Bahn
Many times, fear is the reason why seemingly polished presenters balk when we request that they use the microphone. With macho bravado, a speaker will claim that he doesn’t need extra help. But deep down, the real reason he’s brushing off microphone support is because he’s scared.
Scared? Chicken? Of what?
Sometimes, it’s fear of the unfamiliar. We’re most accustomed to hearing our voices without amplification. With a mic, our voices can sound loud and imposing to our own ears. If you’re not familiar with the sound of your amplified voice, it can sound intimidating or even too loud.
Also, a speaker may not be familiar with the actual microphone itself. This is why running an audio check prior to the presentation is so important. The sound check isn’t merely to make sure the equipment is working: it’s often even more important to make a speaker comfortable with using the microphone.
When a speaker refuses mic support, I’ve learned to accuse him (oh, it’s usually a ‘him’!) of being chicken. I might say,
“I know the microphone must be scary for you. But if we run a quick mike check, maybe you can get over your fear really quickly. Let me set you up… there’s really no reason for you to be so afraid.”
Why do I accuse seemingly confident men of being afraid?
1. Most of the time, the scared person is quick to prove me wrong. “I am NOT afraid!” he’ll exclaim. To prove it, he often lets me mic him immediately. This saves me the lengthy hassle of explaining that no matter how strong his voice is, it’s not going to be heard by many people in the audience without a mike.
2. Rational explanations take too long and usually don’t work. Let’s say I make the usual rational explanations: i.e.: “The people in the back will not hear you well. We’re recording this, and it will not record properly. Your voice may be strong, but it will tire over time….” Rational arguments are usually poo-poohed with a delusional “No, it’ll be just fine.”
A macho man wants to prove he’s not scared. And a scared man won’t respond well to rational arguments.
Either way, my goal is to get the speaker to use the mic. In my experience, appealing to emotion works faster and better than appealing to logic.
How else might you get recalcitrant speakers to use the microphone?