Drop the Mic Aversion: The Simple Case for Simply Using the Microphone

The term “mic drop” is a relatively recent addition to our language. It refers to the dramatic gesture of punctuating the end of your remarks with the action of dropping your microphone—a bold statement that declares “what else is there to say?”

While the brashness of that gesture may be a turn-off to some, it doesn’t bother me so much—as long as the speaker is willing to accept the responsibility for repairing or replacing a battered microphone. On the other hand, what astounds and annoys me is a phenomenon that plays out on the other end of the mic spectrum: the aversion of an alarming percentage of speakers to pick up the microphone in the first place.

It’s self-defeating and it’s selfish.

Last week, on three successive evenings before three very different (and quite large) audiences, I observed speakers wave away perfectly functioning—and abundantly necessary—microphones that were available to them.

For anyone who feels similarly inclined to rely solely on their vocal cords, as if they can pull off some modern-day Greek Amphitheater acoustic wonder, here are some pointers issued at the HIGHEST POSSIBLE VOLUME. (You won’t see CAP LOCKS employed below, but imagine I’m shrieking, Sam Kinison-like, into my metaphorical microphone):

  1. It’s not about you, and your own comfort level with the mic! If a mic feels awkward in your hands, get a grip: you have a responsibility, and it’s to your benefit, to make it as easy as possible for your audience to receive your communication.
  2. “Audience” is defined as everybody in your audience—not just those toward the front, and not even just those you can see in that very moment. If you are being audio-recorded or video-recorded (notably simple activities in this remarkable 21st century), it’s vital to have an amplifying device. That way, someone halfway across the globe, or down the street, can hear you when they come across your presentation days, months, or years later.
  3. When testing a mic, it always helps to actually make an audible noise. While that observation may seem obvious and even a bit snarky, how often have you seen someone whisper, “Is this mic working?” as they pull it away from their face. Then: silence, as they scan the audience for an answer. “I’m just going to raise my voice,” some proceed to say, in defiance of common sense and common courtesy.

Here’s my ‘mic drop’ wrap-up: to the degree that you want to amplify your message, display your expertise, expand your brand or otherwise maximize your influence, that’s how much you should capitalize on the mic’s amplifying effect.

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