Check check check – is this thing on?
November 27, 2005
An open letter from the A/V Guy to people who tap repeatedly on the microphone to see if it’s on:Dear Tapper,I realize that public speaking may not be your strongest skill, and that you are probably a little bit nervous up there on stage, and that your colleagues are out in the audience waiting for you to screw up, but there are just a few quick things that I, the Audio Visual Guy – yes, that’s me in the back of the room – would like to impart to you. Write them on your hand if you need to.Firstly, there may come a time when you pick up a microphone to address the eager crowd and, upon speaking into it, realize that your voice is not actually being amplified. Several things could be wrong in this case – it may be turned off, it may be turned down really low, or it may be broken. Or, in extreme cases, it may not even be a microphone – you may be attempting to speak into the laser pointer or a remote control of some sort. But that’s OK, you’re nervous, we’ve established that. Whatever the case, in none of these situations will slamming your hand repeatedly against the “microphone” cause it to start working.”But,” you protest, “what if there’s a short in the wiring, wouldn’t smacking it around be valid?”No. Listen, there’s a reason that you’re in front of the room and I am in back of it: I know which kind of sensitive electronic equipment responds well to being slapped around, whereas you know how to perform bypass surgery. I’m not trying to make lifestyle judgments, I’m just saying that you’ve made your choices, so you should start learning to live with them.You focus on whatever little thing it is you do in your career (“saving lives,” etc. … ) and let me do what I need to do, like making microphones work.So, let me repeat that, because it really is worth repeating – slamming your hand repeatedly against a microphone does not make it turn on.So what should you do?First of all, asking the A/V Guy in the back of the room, the one who is writing this right now instead of listening to you, if your microphone is on is a good start. Most people get this part right. However, this should NOT be followed by you standing there in silence. Microphones are very complicated devices, and all I really know about them is that sometimes sound goes through them, and sometimes it doesn’t. When it does, I’m happy.When it doesn’t, I start pushing buttons until it does. And the only way that I know when it’s working is when you are making some sound that could potentially go through it. I don’t understand why you think that standing there with a puzzled look on your face will somehow allow me to know if I’ve pushed the right combination of buttons to make your microphone start to work. I don’t deal in puzzled looks. I’m an A/V Guy, not a clergyman.Say “check check check,” say “hello hello hello,” say “test one two.” But say something, and say it until you hear yourself get loud. Simple, really.If, however, you decide that slamming your hand against the dormant mic is the best way to get it fired up, then you will incur the wrath of me. Why this is, I can’t fully explain – it just bugs me, and that should be reason enough to not do it. See all these fancy gadgets back here with the blinking lights? These are processors. Or modulators. Or something. With them I can make your voice sound funny. I can make you tell inappropriate jokes to warmup the room. I can make you look foolish. Should you ever smack a microphone like it’s a stubborn bottle of ketchup again, I will be forced to ruin your career.Please don’t let it come to that. The microphone is not a Clapper. Treat it with respect, and I, in return, will seek professional help for my control issues.Sincerely,The A/V Guy