adjust your microphone

Over the past week, I've observed or participated in 11 Indoor Cycling classes, lead by Master Trainers and everyday Instructors. In the very first class I attended, by a popular MI, I found myself critiquing the quality of her amplified voice. It was terrible. I could hardly understand what she was saying and it really diminished what she was presenting. I'm sure that if she was aware of how poorly she sounded, she would have taken steps to correct the problem.

I'm super anal about the sound quality of my guests on the Podcast. I request demand that we use Skype when recording remotely. It's typically crystal clear and has the guest sounding like they're in the same room with me. I'll only accept using a phone line on very rare occasions.

So with all that in mind I made a point of critiquing every class I attended, listening for the following:

  1. Can I clearly understand what's being said?
  2. Was there a clear difference in volume between their speaking voice and the music?

I'm not going to call out anyone in specific, but in a number of the workshops and classes I had a difficult time understanding the cues given. None of the classes lead by men had the issue - only the women... and only those with naturally high voices. Now I realize that many of these classes were at a conference, with temporary sound systems, but that didn't appear to contribute to the difficulty understanding the presenters. I sat in on two team taught rides, where multiple presenters spoke (male and female) and it was only the female presenters who I had trouble understanding. I wanted to be sure it wasn't just me, so each time I had trouble hearing I asked other's in the class. In each instance they confirmed the issue.

The importance of hearing it for yourself.

I've encouraged you to record your class, so you can hear firsthand what your class hears. We devoted an entire podcast to the subject that featured communication expert Alexa Fischer.

You maybe surprised by what you hear.

I recorded this short sample a few months ago for another Instructor. She cringed when she heard it and instantly understood that she needed to make some major changes, if she wanted her class to understand what she was cuing. As it was, you barely understand anything she said ūüôĀ

So, what are potential solutions?

#1 Get off your bike. When was the last time you walked to the middle of the room while you're teaching? If you've been reluctant to do this, here's another reason to hop off and work the room; you'll hear your amplified voice as your class hears it. If you don't like what you hear, then make some changes and run back out to see if it's improved.

NOTE: I don't feel you can depend on your class to give you accurate feedback. If you ask "how do I sound?" they don't have anything to compare to and will typically say "great" so they don't hurt your feelings. Better to hear for yourself. 

#2 Deliver from your lower register. Women (and men) with high-pitched voices need to learn to deliver their voice from their diaphragm. The feeling should be that you're breathing out while speaking, not like holding your breath.

#3 S l o w  d o w n  y o u r  s p e e c h... Slow down and breath = your words will come across much better. If you ever feel short of breath while teaching, your vocal quality is probably suffering. The easiest fix for this is just stop talking until or limit your cues to short sentences.

#4 Consider purchasing a different microphone. I don't have specific knowledge about what mics work best with what voice type, but I do know that every mic is different and you may improve your delivery with a different mic. Would this make for an interesting Podcast?


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