5 Reasons Why Presenters Won’t Use a Microphone

Often, I have seen people refuse to use a microphone when they’re presenting, whether at an office meeting, community event or industry conference. Yet, using a microphone correctly can make it easier for the audience to hear you and understand your message – which is the whole point of your presentation.

Here are the 5 reasons I hear for not using a microphone – and how you can overcome them.

1. You Don’t Think It’s Necessary
You may think, “my voice is powerful enough and I don’t need it,” but often, that is not the case. Realize that it may be difficult for the audience to hear you, given the size of the room and the amount of surrounding noise. Also, according to a 2009 study by the Better Hearing Institute, the number of Americans with hearing loss has grown to roughly 11 percent of the U.S. population – and six out of ten of them are below retirement age. So it is likely that there are people in your audience with some level of hearing difficulty.

2. You Aren’t Used to Hearing Your Own Voice
The more you listen to your own voice, the more comfortable you will get listening to it. Almost every computer and smartphone has an audio recorder, so use it to record yourself and play it back, so you can get used to how you sound.

3. You Don’t Realize It Can Protect Your Voice
Most people don’t project well without a microphone (unless you have been trained in singing or acting). So you end up shouting when you try to project, which can leave you with a sore throat, laryngitis or vocal cord damage.

4. You Don’t Know How to Use a Microphone
This concern is legitimate and can easily be addressed by practicing with the microphone. Ask the AV staff or a techie friend to help. You want to find out things such as: where to clip the microphone or how to hold it; who will control the volume; how to avoid ear-splitting feedback (don’t point the microphone at the speakers) and where to get an extra battery. Then get in the room ahead of time and practice using it.

5. You Think It’s Too Formal
You may think that using a microphone is only for professional speakers on a stage in front of thousands of people and that it would be arrogant to use it in a smaller setting. Not at all. Used well, a microphone can demonstrate that you’re a smart and respectful presenter who cares enough about your audience to use every tool at your disposal to ensure they can hear and understand your presentation.

Making Negotiation Win-Win

Using current negotiation models, people feel they are giving up more than they want in exchange for receiving less than they deserve. As part of standard practice, negotiation partners going into a negotiation calculate their bottom line – what they are willing to give up, and what they are willing to accept – and then fight, argue, cajole, or threaten when their parameters aren’t met. People have been killed for this. But there is another way.

In 1997, Bill Ury and I had to read each other’s books in preparation for working together for KPMG. A week before our introductory lunch meeting in Santa Fe, I read his book Getting To Yes (where BATNA – Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement – originated), marked the areas I disagreed with in red, and sent the marked book back to Bill. There was a lot of red: his book teaches how to get what you want (potentially win-lose) rather than how everyone can walk away satisfied (win-win). After comparing our models and a very interesting discussion about the different outcomes between a win-win and a win-lose negotiation, he agreed with me and we worked with KPMG using a win-win model.

BELIEFS

Win-lose is an incongruity. Using benchmarks for ethics and integrity, if one person loses, everyone loses – hence there is only win-win or lose-lose. Yet in the typical negotiation process it’s hard to find a win when the ‘things’ being bartered are not ‘things’ at all but representations of unconscious, subjective beliefs and personal values (termed Criterial Equivalents in NLP) without either negotiation partner fully understanding the underlying values these items represent to the other: a house in the country might represent a lifetime goal to one person, and just a place to live to another; a $1,000,000 settlement might illustrate payback for a lost, hard-won reputation to one person, and extortion to another. When much younger, I spent a fortune on a 14K gold waist chain, believing that this decadent indulgence defined me as ‘making it.’ Seriously.

It’s possible to take the negotiation beyond the ‘things’ being bartered, away from the personal and chunk up to find mutually shared values agreeable to both – and then find ‘things’ that represent them. So it might be initially hard to agree who should get ‘the house’, but it might be possible to agree that it’s important everyone needs a safe place to live.

FOCUS ON SHARED VALUES FIRST

Try this:

  1. enter the negotiation with a list of somewhat generic high-level values that are of foundational importance, such as Being Safe; Fair Compensation;
  2. share lists and see where there is agreement. Where there is no agreement, continue chunking up higher until a set of mutually comfortable criteria are found. A chunk up from Fair Compensation might be ‘Compensation that Values Employees’
  3. list several possible equivalents that match each agreeable criterion. So once Compensation that Values Employees is agreed upon during a salary negotiation, each partner should offer several different ways it could be achieved, such as a higher salary, or extra holidays, or increased paid training days, or a highly sought-after office, or higher royalties;
  4. continue working backward – from agreement with high-level, foundational criteria, down to the details and choices that might fulfill that goal, with all parties in agreement.

Discussions over high level values are often more generic, and far less likely to set off tempers than arguments over ‘things’: if nothing else, it’s easier for negotiation partners to listen to each other without getting defensive. And once values are attended to and people feel heard they become more flexible in the ‘things’ they are willing to barter: once Compensation that Values Employees is agreed to, it’s possible to creatively design several choices for an employee to feel fairly valued without an employer stretching a tight budget.

Think about negotiations as a way to enhance relationships rather than a compromise situation or a way for someone to win. There is nothing to be won when someone loses.

Stylish Present Ideas by a Lifestyle Editor

Choosing presents is like a competition. Some people are brilliant, displaying Olympian levels of ingenuity and originality. And others? Well, it’s the thought that counts, isn’t it? But there are ways to turn yourself into a gold medal present-giver, even if you’re one of life’s last-to-be-picked for the team when it comes to present ideas.

It was all so easy in the days when a box of chocolates or a bunch of flowers were all anyone ever gave. No-one questioned your taste because ‘style’ had still to be invented.

Nowadays there’s almost too much choice. Hi-tech gadgets, silken fripperies, lotions, potions and perfumes, all turn present buying into a fraught activity. Will they like it? Have you misjudged their taste? Have you misjudged your own? Will they be impressed by your accurate assessment of their personality, or wonder why you and they are actually friends?

So, how to avoid misfires and wow everyone with your brilliant present ideas? Rule number one is never to buy something just because you like it. It’s their likes and dislikes that count. And, in order to work out what the recipient might like, there really is nothing for it but to note down their “I wish I had that’s”, all year round, keep in a safe place, and look up when necessary.

This process, by the way, doesn’t just mean buying what they don’t already have. The keen cook may actually enjoy chopping and slicing and not want the process smoothed with a food processor. The woman who doesn’t have pierced ears may not be waiting for the perfect pair of earrings. And the Chanel No 5 lady won’t want a bottle of new scent (but might be thrilled with a scented candle). Whatever you do buy, always, always make it a treat because the best present ideas of all are indulgent.

If you really are stuck for present ideas then don’t buy classics but sneak in an original twist. Instead of a bunch of flowers, give a perfect pink palaeonopsis orchid. Instead of ordinary chocs give a box of hand-made truffles by a cult chocolatier. Make bubblebath chic by adding a bar of heavenly scented soap, a loofah and body oil, then tie up the lot in a hamman towel.

And don’t forget that the perfect present idea may actually be an obvious one. A friend of mine loves nothing more than candles – for her, any candle is gratefully received, no matter how lowly its pedigree. But, whatever the present, always wrap it beautifully because even the humblest gift looks special tied with generous lengths of velvet ribbon.

They do say that it is better to give than to receive. That’s nonsense, of course. But it can be a lot of fun.