Monday, March 16, 2009

4 things to remove before speaking

Speakers tend to focus on what to add to their presentations, be it more words, a choice of outfit or special visuals. But a quick scan of your person and your surroundings can help you strategically remove stumbling blocks before you speak--and before they trip you up. Here are four I focus on:
  • Lose the name tag: Photographers join us in asking you to take off that plastic name badge before you get on stage. Not only is it unnecessary--it can't be read from where you're standing, and you're going to be introduced--it adds a white, glaring square to your image and detracts from any video or still photos that capture the event.
  • Replace dangling earrings: Any earrings that have the potential to dangle, swing or make noise -- and be captured by the microphone -- should be replaced with something quieter.
  • Avoid bracelets and rings: Especially if you plan to gesture for emphasis, bracelets can make noise and rings on your gesturing hand can distract the audience. (I recall a speaker who pounded the lectern for emphasis, setting off a jangling set of bangle bracelets each time--beautifully amplified by the mic.)
  • Get your hairstyle off your shoulders: If your hair is shoulder-length or longer and you're wearing a lavalier microphone on your lapel, the sound of hair brushing over the mic will interfere with what your audience is hearing. Use a mic attached to the lectern, or pull your hair back to avoid contact with the mic.