Selfish Tools

A Microphone Isn't for Your Benefit

Not long ago I attended an event being held in a gymnasium. It wasn’t a sporting event, rather it was a group event with a speaker.

The meeting went through the normal formalities and introductions, and after a few moments, the presenter stood in front of the group and started on his topic.

He started off telling everyone he was going to sit during the presentation because he wasn’t feeling well. He sat down on the edge of a table and began speaking. After a few moments it was obvious that the people in the back couldn’t hear him very well.

The human voice doesn’t carry well in large areas; this is obviously why we use microphones. If you have ever listened to a speaker outdoors on in a large room you may have experienced this struggle of hearing someone speak.

A man sitting on the side left the room for a few moments and walked back with a long black cable and a microphone. He walked over toward the plug in the wall and spoke out, “Would you like to use a microphone?” and instantly, as if rehearsed and a bit agitated he responded, “no, I hate microphones.”

The gentleman who brought the microphone, looking slightly puzzled, walked back to his seat and sat quietly for the rest of the meeting holding the cable and microphone.

Microphones are one of the most intimidating tools in our society. Many people, when they hear their voice coming through a PA, immediately back away from the microphone. It’s a strange reaction considering that’s exactly what is supposed to happen with your voice.

What fascinated me about this man’s response was that the microphone was not for him, it was for the audience. A microphone is one of those unique tools that we use almost exclusively for the benefit of other people. Refusing to use a microphone when you have one available is a bit selfish.

And if you use a microphone for a while, you find that it is a wonderful tool for enhancing your delivery. In all my years as a presenter, I have always asked for a hand-held microphone. You can use it for dynamics if you want to whisper something important, you can pull it away from your mouth and raise your voice, even shout. You can hold it up to people’s mouths when asking for commentary, you can even use a microphone and a stand as props.

When someone asks you if you would like to use a microphone, the answer is always “yes.”