KBB Collective | The Designers' Corner

May 11 2010

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How to speak into a microphone

I know; you’re asking, “So what does this have to do with design?” You might be surprised. At some point, you could be:

—interviewed by the local station at your home show
—asked to give a presentation on design at a chapter meeting, weekend seminar or national conference
—running ads on the radio or television
—Or any number of scenarios that involve you stepping up to a microphone.

Do you know how?

Being briefly in television (I was behind the cameras, not in front. I freeze as well as anyone), I have a few tricks for you. Talking into a microphone the first couple of times does get the heart racing, and if you want to sound your best, there are some simple dos and don’ts.

Don’t “eat” the microphone. Ever been in an audience where speaker’s voice sounded so fuzzy you couldn’t understand a word? That’s because he or she is too close to the microphone. When this happens, the common mistake is to lean closer and talk louder, but that only makes it worse. Move away from the microphone, not towards. All good microphones will easily pick up your normal speaking voice from 6”-8” away.

Do project your voice slightly, but don’t raise it. Here’s the difference: Listen to a newscast. Copy the person using your normal voice. Notice how your voice sounds a bit light in comparison? The newscasters are “projecting” their voices — injecting a bit of energy into their speech. Obviously, you don’t have to sound like a newscaster, but even a bit of that vocal force will make you sound confident.

Don’t pop your “Ps.” Sounds a bit rude, doesn’t it? When people are nervous, they tend to over-enunciate the letter “P” very forcefully, until it’s all an audience can hear. Don’t feel you have to firmly stress every word. A microphone is not a bullhorn—it’s there to enhance your voice. (I can’t imagine how many microphones Ty Pennington ruins using that bullhorn. Okay, maybe I can.)

Do slow down. The first time I ever used a microphone, I was nervous and jittery. I ended up sounding like Minnie Mouse on her third espresso. Take a deep breath or two before you start, and puff out your cheeks for a couple of exhales—it helps release tension in your cheeks.

Do pay attention to your clothing: Ladies, if you’ll be using a lavalier microphone (which is what the tiny microphone pinned to your clothing is called), avoid heavy necklaces or noisy, dangly earrings—you know the kind. There should be nothing jangling against the microphone. Gents, watch that your tie or lapels don’t smother the microphone when you lean forward or back.

Until next time~


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