Speak Up. I Can’t Hear You!

You’re speaking to a group. It could be ten people around a conference room table. It could be fifty people at a luncheon. Maybe it’s 200 in an auditorium. Can they hear you clearly? As the communicator, the onus is on you to make sure what you are saying gets through to the recipients of your message.

Some tips:

  1. When amplification is available, use it. I’ve seen numerous speakers choose not to use a microphone (even a convenient wireless mike), presuming they can project well enough without one. Then, they proceed to talk in a normal volume. And they often look at and project their voices toward a SMART Board or other screen, not in the direction of the audience.
  2. When amplification is not available, speak louder. Realize that you may need to overcome other sounds. (A St. Louis radio group has its conference room located directly beneath the building’s heating/cooling system. When it kicks on, and the speaker does not raise her/his voice level, the message competes with a low range hum.)
  3. Remember that you need to be loud enough to be heard by those in the back of the room (or the back row). This is one of the basic guidelines of live theatre.
  4. If you and the venue A/V guy do a pre-event sound check in an empty hotel ballroom, remember that conditions will be different when 500 people are in the room, clanging tableware and chatting.
  5. Learn to use a microphone. I attended an event last year where every panelist was off-mike and barely audible. The moderator, a woman with speaking/media experience, was always on-mike and easily heard. She should’ve counseled her panelists about microphone use. As a general rule, the closer you are to a microphone, the better your chance of being heard clearly.

If what you have to say is important enough for people to want to hear you say it, make sure that they can hear it. Otherwise, just stay home.


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