Can You Hear Me?

When speaking at a conference or event where audio equipment is used, please... do us all a favor... when you get on stage don’t ask:

“Can you hear me?”

If the speaker before you used the microphone and it worked, chances are pretty good that the equipment is still working and the audience can hear you. And typically the audio team will ensure it's working before you even get on stage.

I watched an experienced speaker ask this question before she even started her presentation. It’s not a very compelling opening to your talk, is it? 

The first words out of your mouth should make an impact!

Besides, if the microphone isn’t working, the staff or emcee will come running over to help you. And you can start over. In fact, you want to start over so that everyone can hear your compelling introduction to your presentation.

At the same conference, I was given THREE different microphones because the first two kept cutting out on me. Though I wasn't thrilled about the fact some of my words weren't broadcast around the room, I didn't want the problem of a microphone to distract from the value I was delivering so I ignored the problem and kept speaking. I kept my cool. In fact, as the audio team was switching the lavalier mic to a handheld, I created a moment of laughter in the audience when I asked them to avert their eyes as they worked to get the cable and earpiece out from under my shirt!

The speaker I mentioned earlier did not keep her cool. Each time the microphone cut out, she would point it out to the audience. She repeated words, adjusted the microphone, and huffed and puffed. It was such a distraction to her message. I understand she was frustrated but she did a huge disservice to herself as a speaker and leader.

Please don't get frustrated on stage if equipment fails you; just keep speaking, ignoring the awkward drop in volume and try your best to avoid repeating yourself.

I felt pretty good about the delivery of my presentation, however, it taught me a very important lesson: bring my own microphone!

As I watched another speaker present after me, I noticed he didn’t have ANY issues with the microphone. The audio was consistent and there were no drops. I later learned that he used his own microphone. He brings it with him wherever he goes.

That’s a valuable lesson right there. From now on, I’m bringing my own microphone!

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