Always Check your Mic Clip, Stands, and Cabling

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Have you ever been speaking on a mic at the lectern and for whatever reason you decided to walk away from the lectern  – only then to find yourself unable to take the mic away from the mic stand or mic clip? 

Remember, before you speak at the lectern, always test you mic and check out your ability to take the mic with you, away from the lectern, as you walk around the room, stage, or platform.  Don’t be ‘locked to the lectern’ so to speak.  Think of this microphone at the lectern as a grab-and-go mic.  At all costs, you want to avoid any reason for the mic to hold you hostage at the lectern. 

 This could happen to you, so let’s look at some situations and how to avoid them in the future:

 Check the tension on the mic clip

 Not all mic clips are made the same way.  Some fit more snugly than others.  Have you ever grabbed a mic that is held with a mic clip and then you found that mic clip to be very tight – so tight that you are struggling to get it out of the mic clip?  Don’t let this happen.  Check your mic clip before you speak and make sure you can get the mic free when you need to.

 Make sure the [wired] mic cables are free and unwound.

 If you’re using a wired mic at the lectern and it is a mic provided by a sound or technical team (other than yourself), make sure the cable attached to the mic has a long enough mic cord to stretch the entire distance – wherever you are going in the room.  Here’s  the thought behind this:  Sometimes, when the AV team or sound person places a “lectern mic’, they may set it up to look pretty and have the cables all nice looking and tightly wound up around the lectern and mic stand {we call that a gooseneck} and then they might also put the excess cable underneath the lectern, out of sight.  When you go to grab that mic to take it away from the lectern, it won’t be easy, if at all possible.  Make sure you have checked all the cabling before your talk and even consider having the mic cable positioned so that it can be easily unwound, away from the lectern when you need remove it. and when you go to grab the mic it may not budge.

(FYI…Remember, some venues do still use wired microphone systems!)

 If you’re using a wireless mic at the lectern

 Check to mic clip or mic stand to make sure the ‘fit’ of the clip holding the mic is not too tight.  Usually, you can remove the Handheld mic from the mic clip, but sometimes the clip holding the mic is configured in such a way that it is difficult to grab the mic  and leave the lectern.  Test this out and see if this is the case at the lectern mic being used is not

 Request a wireless handheld mic. 

 For an even better portable mic option, a handheld, wireless mic allows you to move more freely across the stage.  Keep in mind, though,  If you’re renting the mic, this will almost always be the more expensive microphone option  than with a ‘wired’ mic, but you can make sure there won’t be any cables attached to the mic which might hold you down when you want to walk away.

 Request a lapel mic

 Here again, you can request a wireless lapel mic option that allows you the same, if not, more freedom to walk around the stage.  With this type of mic, you can freely gesture without worrying about holding the microphone in one hand or the other.

 Bring in your own gear

 If the scenario permits, bring in your own wireless mic system, and you can alleviate many of these issues because you [should] know how your system works and the best way to set it up for your speaking style. 

 Stay tuned for future blogs discussing what types of basic audio gear you can invest in to make your speaking life a lot easier for you when you are in front of the audience.

 

Display Adapters are also called ‘Dongles’

 

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As you know, speakers give presentations. Oftentimes the presentations they give are not just verbal, they’re visual too. Speakers must make sure an audience clearly sees their presentation visuals in a large format by connecting to a projection device like a large display screen or a data projector.

 

Think about this. Have you ever been getting ready for your live presentation, and, in working through getting your laptop connected to a device, you find out that you can’t make a physical connection between the two because you don’t have the correct display adapter? Well, most likely, this is due to your not having a specific ‘dongle’ handy in your bag. Wikipedia basically defines a dongle as a small piece of hardware that attaches to a computer, TV, or other electronic device to allow for certain connectivity options.

 

To prevent this type of AV connection headache, make sure you invest in building a simple Dongle Kit for your travelling briefcase. Always make sure you get the correct connector to fit your computers’ video output port and then look for various tips on the other end of the dongles to cover the basic connections needed on the display devices.

Get To Know Your Presentation Remote!!

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Recently, while attending a presentation, I heard a fellow speaker say, “Hey…. how do I use this thing?” Do you know what thing they were talking about?  Well, have you ever seen the little device in the hand of a presenter, usually black or silver.  That little device is called a presentation remote, or ‘clicker’, or, if you really want to get picky, a ‘pickle’, yes a pickle.  Why it’s called a pickle I do not know!

In audiovisual-speak, a “pickle” is a handheld remote that allows you, the presenter, ‘freedom of movement’ to manually advance your slides at your own pace without being tied to your laptop’s keyboard while in front of an audience or onstage.  More importantly, using a remote allows you to focus your attention on your presentation and maintain good eye contact with your audience and not worry about where the slide advance keys are on your laptop.

This handy little device works with the more popular software programs like Microsoft PowerPoint™, Apple Keynote™ and online programs like Prezzi and Haikudeck, etc.

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There are many brands to choose from out there.  My favorite is the SMK Remote Navigator.  This one is simple, small, reliable, and extremely easy to use without looking.  In addition, it’s well back-weighted so it stays towards the front your palm without much worry that it will fall out of the back of your palm.   Ooooops!

So, to circle back around to the original question when I heard the woman say, “Hey…. how do I use this thing?” immediately, I cringed and thought, “What? She didn’t just say that in front of the audience? What the speaker meant is – How do I use this clicker remote to control my PowerPoint presentation on a computer. She was unfamiliar with the device.

It’s an absolute must that you know about all your presentation technology tools you use in your presentation on stage or in front of an audience.  Never say something like that speaker said!

Whether you’re presenting to one person in a business setting or delivering your first keynote to 5,000 people, you should be using a handheld remote, or a pickle. Yes, even the best speakers use them too

Takeaway point:

As a speaker, you must know about your presentation technology. When you do, you’ll look like you’ve got your act together and know your material well.                                                                    

Are you technically ready present?

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How many of you use presentation software during your talks?

Yep, I thought so, most of you.

Well you’re not unlike most other speakers, so you’ll probably be going to the front of the room or up to the platform with your computer.

Do you know how to make sure your computer device is ready to go?

Remember these 7 key points to make sure you’re technically ready to present.

  1. Set your presentation software into the ‘presenter’ view.
  2. Unless you are on a wireless content presentation device, know exactly what type display port output connector you’ll be using – if you don’t know, then make sure you have your very own Dongle Kit (stay tuned for a future article – Dongle’s for Dummies)
  3. If you have audio in your presentation, make sure you have the proper connection cables from your computer to the rooms audio source
  4. Make sure there are no issues with your audio portions within your presentation
  5. Always use a wireless remote clicker device
  6. If you are using a Windows computer, make sure you have performed a Windows update way before you get ready to present.  If the Windows update just happens to start at the time of your presentation, and it will, you’ll have to wait for it to finish.  There is no Microsoft policeman you can pay to quit the update
  7. Test.  Test again. Test another time, Test until you know all works.

Make sure your computer presentation device is as ready to go to present as you are!

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Hit that Record Button. Now!

record_buttonIn the future, every time you speak, challenge yourself to make sure you record your presentation with some type of recording device. In this modern time of ‘digital’ technology, data storage is now really cheap, takes up very little space compared to what it used to, and is easy to come by. If you can’t set up the recording device and make the recording by yourself, ask a colleague to assist.

Whether you’re using your own smartphone app (Android, iPhone, etc.) for making a basic recording file, or you’re using an actual standalone recording device that can usually make a more “robust” recording, some devices let you record in two different AV modes: either in an audio-only format or in a full HD 1080p video quality format containing both audio AND video. You make the choice. Remember, different quality formats require different amounts of storage space. To ensure you don’t run out of disc space, grab a calculator and do the math on your expected recording outcome file size based on the configurations of your recording device. Check your device user manual for recording card capabilities.

At about the size of a stamp, most data cards, for example, like the popular SD type seen here, are relatively SD_cardsinexpensive and can hold a handful of hours of high-definition (HD) 1080p quality video and even many more hours of audio if you wish to record in an audio-only format. Here is a reference link to a wiki page covering all of the difference types of SD cards. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secure_Digital. The three basic SD card form factors are the original size, the “mini” size, and the “micro” size and they all come in storage capacity ranges from 1-64GB, and higher, depending upon the card type. Remember, check your manual.

Finally, remember to record whenever you can. You will enjoy reviewing your past speeches to help you get better each time you speak in the future. If you don’t record, you can’t measure your progression. Recording your speeches is a great way to document and learn more about what you did right or wrong and what you can work on in futures speeches. One reminder, though, as you review your recordings, be easy on yourself – don’t be too critical. This is a learning progression. As you become more familiar with hearing your own voice and looking at yourself on stage, you will begin to get more comfortable with watching…well – You!

Just sit back, watch and listen.