Are You Wired?

Posted by Dave

Two parties this past week have reminded me of everything I like – and dis-like – about wireless microphones. Depending on which mikes you use, and the circumstances in which you employ them, they can either really help – or really hurt what should have been a special presentation.

At a 50th birthday dinner, the honoree’s parents were seated 30 feet or so from the band area. They were an older couple, who didn’t move too quickly. But they were cute, funny, and full of stories about their son. Having the wireless mike enabled the emcee to give them “curb service,” delivering the mike right into their waiting hands.

A few nights later, at a ritzy gathering promoting resort real estate off the coast of Georgia, I got a vivid reminder of the pitfalls possible with a cordless microphone. The chief pitchman was constantly moving from one side of his audience to another. Normally, this is a very effective Speech technique called proxemics (as in “proximity.”) Unfortunately, he was either using a cheap mike or else one whose receiving antenna had been poorly placed. Every single time he moved to his far left, the mike produced only “white noise” (which sounds like the letter “f” being voiced for 10 straight seconds: “ffffffffffffft”). Worse yet, he never tumbled to the solution: if the mike doesn’t work when you stand there, don’t stand there!

At your next event, you may not need a microphone. But – if you do – you will want it to deliver your comments clearly and feedback-free. If a sound check (rehearsal) is not available for you to discover any potential gremlins, then let me suggest a prudent back-up plan: have a mike with an extra-long cable ready – just in case. It may be a little extra trouble to use, but it will ensure that your well-chosen words are heard by your audience.

Otherwise, the key moment at the event which has consumed months of your time and thousands of your dollars could sound like this: “Ladieff fnd gfftlemen, leff ffrink a toaff ffo our fffest of fffnor, Mfff Fffffffthffffson!”


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