Don’t Be THAT Speaker: Tools

In the previous post, on speaking and microphones we looked at how speakers need to work with microphones. If you have not checked it out, I suggest you do. While speaking is the primary medium of communication, a lot more contributes to it. Being a great speaker involves more that just actual speaking but everything else affecting it.

Platform communicators often make the mistake of only focusing on their message in preparation. Do not get me wrong, it is of utmost importance that the platform communicator prepares his message and presentation well, but he must remember that is not the only thing he needs to prepare.

Continue reading “Don’t Be THAT Speaker: Tools”

Don’t Be THAT Speaker: The Microphones

I am very choosy about what conferences or workshops I understand. I make decisions on whether to attend primarily on two premises:


1.There is a lot I can learn there and,
2.Whatever I learn is going to significantly enrich me in a pertinent way.

That’s right, I have a Conference Attending Manifesto… However, now and then I meet a speaker, whom is worth listening to but some stuff they do in their delivery annoys the living daylight out of me, I lose the beauty of the message because of the delivery. Bad delivery by a speaker does not help building what  Michael Hyatt calls a platform. I highly recommend you get his book: Platform.


Every speaker must make sure that the beauty and wealth of their message does not get lost in their delivery


What I am about to share I find very annoying and highly recommend every platform communicator to consider, to avoid being that speaker. You know the speaker that ends being talked about as a bad speaker and not because they do not know what they are talking about but because they are bad at it. Besides the 28 Random Things To Always Check, you must get one of the tools platform communicators use often right. Let’s focus on microphones…

microphones are critical tools for platform communication but are often thought about the least, negatively affecting delivery  || image by spDuchamp | cc
microphones are critical tools for platform communication but are often thought about the least, negatively affecting delivery || image by spDuchamp | cc

The Wand

When you use a handheld, remember it is a microphone not a wand. The microphone is there to help your audience to hear you. It enables the propagation of your message. When you wave it about it affects how your voice goes out and your audience can miss parts of your sentences if you are waving the microphone. If you use a lot of hand gestures when you speak take extra care.

keep the microphone in front of your mouth, not around it

The Kiss

Do not kiss or put the microphone on your lips or in your mouth. This does not help sound, it merely muffles it and leaves unnecessary bacteria for the next guy. (If you used a stinky microphone after someone has practically been kissing it, you will know what I mean).

Hold the microphone (or place it on a stand) at a 30-degree tilt and at a distance of about 15cm


Clip On

If you are going to use a clip on microphone, place it is where it is not going to rub against other articles of clothing, which can create noise. Trust the sound guy. He will place the microphone where it is best. Try not to move it about. If you do have to move it, place it about 25cm from your mouth. They are generally designed to pick up sound in that range.



Do not breathe heavily into the microphone. If you need to take a deep breath, move the microphone from your mouth. In the case of clip-on or headset microphones cover them or turn away from the microphone if you have to. I know you might be nervous but do not annoy your audience while you are at.

respect your audience and your work enough to take everything about it seriously


The Drum and Trumpet

The microphone is not a drum; do not beat it. Do not blow into the microphone either. This can damage microphones.

simply talk into the microphone to check if it is on

Ask the sound guys if you need to switch the microphone on when you get up to speak and ask how to do so if you do not know


The Rapper

When you are done speaking, do not throw the microphone down. (Eminem is an exception. If you are Eminem, ignore this). Gently place back on the podium, microphone stand or hand it back to the sound guy or stage manager. Mute or switch off the microphone before you put it down. Again, if you can, ask the sound guys what you must do with the microphone when you are done with it.

always consider how to best care equipment; be a good steward


Give Back

If you use a headset or clip on microphone remember to give it back when you are done. Because these are generally attached to you, it is easier to walk away with them. Ask for help from the sound guy to make sure that you take it off without damaging it.

if it is not yours do not take it with you



The sound guys will love you. PS: they are also the guys who will determine whether you sound nice or crappy ;-)

If you haven’t already, I recommend you also check out:


[disclosure: post has affiliate link]

Any questions on microphones when speaking? What annoys you most about speakers when it comes to microphones?


The clues to a great story

At different times in our lives, careers and organizations we contemplate the stories that we want to leave behind. The stories we want posterity to tell of us. To find inspiration through us. Interestingly, we find inspiration from stories that we hear from or about other people. From the movies we watch. There is something almost inexplicable that always opens the door for us to connect with stories we see on the screens.

Then there are the stories that we want to tell from who we are and what are doing now. It is the story of the life you have experienced and the one you are looking forward to. It is the stories of what your organization is doing as part of their bit in changing the world or adding value. People connect with stories than they do with numbers or statistics. Statistics only matter for people when they have a compelling story attached to them. As you attempt to share your life, cause or vision, consider the story you want to tell.

Stories are the platform for rallying support for your cause. They are the platform on which intimacy in relationships or partnerships is fostered. Think about it. We often feel more connected to people after spending an afternoon of hearing some of their childhood stories. For people to buy into your organization or cause there must be something that captures their imagination. There must be an ‘enchanting factor’. This is done through stories. At a TED talk, Andrew Stanton from Pixar, shares clues to a great story. Check out the talk below. (There is one incident of one strong word at the start, besides that, it is all worth a watch)

Your thoughts?

Confronting For A Change

At some point every leader has to address something that they or their team may find uncomfortable. There are issues that can never be let alone and must be addressed. It is always the leader’s responsibility to address the elephant in the team or organization. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

things are not just going to change on their own. be proactive; confront for a change!

When confronting your team:

  • But Why?: Validate the importance of what you’re about to say, say it and validate it again. I’m not suggesting you make your ‘address’ long and boring. Be succinct when you’ve made points. Build up to making your point but don’t be long winded.
  • The Way It Should Be: When you’re challenging how things should not be, make sure you clearly communicate how they should be! Don’t make the mistake of tearing down what should be torn down without building what should be built up.
  • Getting ‘There’: Your team must know the steps that they need to take to get to what should be.  You can either give the way forward or engage your team in charting the way forward. Whatever you do don’t leave the team hanging!
  • The Core: Put measures in place to ensure you don’t end up in the same place again. Addressing the issue is not enough; dealing with the roots guarantees death of the fruits. If you often end up dealing with the same drama it is because you haven’t curbed the root!
  • 180°: Keeping the confrontation one sided is a common mistake leaders make. Don’t get so worked up about the issues you address and forget that there are two sides to a coin. In your confrontation give room to your team to give input. In this way it is less likely to seem you were talking at them but resolving issues with them.
illustration by clagnut, flickr (cc)

What do you recommend in engaging your team in the context above?