Why You Should Always Use a Microphone in Meetings
We gathered in a medium-sized classroom for the wrap-up session of my two-day board meeting at my alma mater. Most sessions were in larger spaces, with presenters using a lectern at the front of a well-miked room. The event organizers always saved me a seat at the front with good sight-lines to the speakers so I could lipread as needed. I really appreciated their assistance and was able to hear almost everything. Given the high level of concentration needed, my hearing loss exhaustion usually kicked in by the end of the day, but it was worth it.
Mic the audience
The wrap-up session was different — more casual, smaller, and in a different type of space — a classroom rather than a typical lecture hall. The leaders used a microphone, but a second mic was not provided for questions or comments from the audience. This made it much harder to follow the discussion.
Why It Is Important to Use A Microphone
Even strong leaders overlook top-notch communication in certain settings. That is why it is critical to educate people about the importance of using a microphone for all meetings, even when the gathering seems too small or too casual for the formality and fuss of a mic. Inclusion should never be sacrificed for the sake of ease.
This great captioned video, “Like the Mic,” produced by Rooted in Rights in conjunction with Hearing Loss Association of America, clearly explains the importance of using a microphone in meetings of all types. It also dispels common excuses for not using a microphone, like “I have a loud voice,” or “Everyone can hear, right?”
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Five important reasons for using a microphone at your next meeting
- Inclusion: Since 48 million Americans have some degree of hearing loss, it is likely that most meetings include at least one person who has trouble hearing, even if they don’t identify themselves. It took me many years to accept my hearing loss, so I attended innumerable workplace meetings where I struggled to hear. Looking back, I wish I had been more open about my hearing loss.
- Full Participation: Why bother to have the meeting if all the ideas are not surfaced? If people cannot hear all the comments, they are less likely to feel confident in contributing their thoughts for fear of repeating something that was already said. This holds true for everyone. Encourage full participation by ensuring each contribution is heard by all.
- Better Content Retention: When less brain energy is used for physically hearing the information, more of it can be committed to memory. This is especially true for people with hearing loss, but also true for everyone. You can read my post on this topic here.
- Clearer Conversation Flow: If people can only speak when using a microphone — this ground rule would need to be established up front — cross talk and side conversations are minimized. The meeting becomes more civil and participants are likely to be more attentive. A good rule of thumb is to have more than one microphone available to speed the time between speakers.
- Support for Assistive Listening Devices: For people using assistive listening devices like a hearing loop, a microphone is imperative. Sound only works in a hearing loop if it is picked up through the microphone. Make sure people hold the mic towards their mouth while talking and speak at a normal volume.