Although this may seem obvious, make sure the audience can clearly hear every
word you say. Most jokes and stories depend on key words. If you slur a word,
the audience may miss the whole idea of the story (remember you need a good
sound system too). Besides enunciating clearly, you must use the microphone
properly. Hand held microphones must stay with you when you turn your head
from side to side and must be directed toward the mouth of anyone you are
conversing with during the presentation.
Larry Wilde, the author of more than 50 humor books, tells the story of the
time he was auditioning to take over the television show Let’s Make a Deal
when Monte Hall retired. In the opening of the show he was supposed to engage
in small talk with an audience member. He went up to someone in the first row
and said, “Hi! What’s your name?” Although the audience member answered
him, there was dead silence in the sound booth. The sound men were actually
laughing at Larry because he neglected to hold the microphone near the mouth
of the audience member for the response. You might think this is common sense,
but try it out and you will see that it is not as easy as it looks. It takes practice
to do it smoothly.
If you are at a lectern, you should know how far your lips need to be from the
microphone. Hopefully you checked this out before the presentation started. If
that was not possible, you can watch the introducer or speakers that are on
before you to get a feel for the proper distance.
When using a handheld or lectern microphone be very careful in pronouncing
words that have the letter “p” in them. This letter tends to make a popping
sound that is very distracting. If you are using a handheld microphone, you
usually can significantly reduce the “p” sound problem if you hold the
microphone at a slight angle. If the microphone is fixed on the lectern, you can
de-emphasize the word with the “p” or turn your head slightly away from the
microphone.

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