Test the Microphone Before Each Presentation

You’re about to give a presentation. You arrived early so you can set up as needed. All your notes are in order. You tested the projector and launched the PowerPoint file. You walked the room and have begun greeting attendees. All feels good.

Is it?

One facet of presentations that can be overlooked easily is the microphone at the lectern. Presenters tend to assume that the mic is set just right for the presentation. You shouldn’t assume that.

If you’re using the lectern microphone, test it prior to your presentation. You’re interested in the microphone’s “working area”; that is, the range at which it will pick up your voice well.

Some mics require you to be rather close. Other times you can stand in a normal posture while you deliver your presentation. (If you can adjust the mic gain or position, do so. Sometimes you can’t make any adjustments.) The performance of the microphone dictates how you stand and whether you are able to move about at the lectern.

During one presentation I attended, the presenter spent most of the time leaning on the lectern with his right elbow. This meant his face was several inches away from the microphone. He didn’t know it at the time – the host never signaled to him – but he was difficult to hear unless he happened to step in front of the mic. Nearly everyone in the room — and that includes me — was craning their necks to hear him. One audience member moved to the front of the room to better hear the presenter. It was a real shame, too. From what I could hear, he offered some good material. (I posted a video about this issue, which you can view here.)

Remember that, as the presenter, it’s your responsibility to ensure the equipment you’re using works fine. A corollary to that states that you know the working parameters of that equipment. It takes only a few seconds to¬†familiarize yourself with the microphone. Doing so will ensure that an easily avoidable mistake, like the one discussed above, does not ruin your presentation.

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Tom Fuszard



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