Thursday, April 29, 2010

Microphone manners

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who's campaigning to keep that post, is the latest politician to let an inopportune remark collide with an open microphone -- and anytime politicians are out campaigning, this kind of accident might occur.

I sometimes joke that I have two kinds of clients, those who need to be pushed toward the mic and those who must be pulled away from it.  But in fact, there's a dreaded third category: Those who forget microphones, their proximity and whether they're switched off. 

The problem's more likely to happen with lavalier mics, which are small and attached to your clothes so they're wearable...which can lead to situations like Brown's, in which he got into a car and forgot his mic was still on, or those where speakers who've just had their mics attached walk into the restroom before speaking...and broadcast to the crowd.  But you also might get caught when you're at the lectern before a talk, trying to figure out how the slides will work; in that situation, adjust the lectern mic so it's directed away from you, lest the crowd hear all the audio-visual arrangements before you begin.

You may not be running for anything, but do take the time to learn how to turn your microphone on and off, and put it in the off position whenever you are not addressing the crowd. It's a smart speaker habit to cultivate.