Using the microphone can be a little intimidating at first... However as group fitness instructors, our verbal communication is paramount to a great class. Here are some great tips to help you Master the Mic!
Tip #1 - Mic Placement Position the mic at the side of your cheek about two finger-widths away from the corner of your mouth. This will allow the mic to pick up sound clearly, preventing the breathy “Darth Vader” effect caused by the direct line of airflow when the mic is improperly placed in front of the mouth or nose. Microphone Windscreens are vital to most aerobics instructor's headset microphones to achieve maximum audio quality and durability. Each headset microphone's capsule has a specific shape and most manufacturers make a specific windscreen for each microphone.
Tip #2 - Vocal Projection One the most important consideration when using a mic is awareness of vocal volume (how loud your voice is) versus vocal projection. High vocal volume is unnecessary; remember that it is the mic’s job to amplify your voice, not yours. So if you scream into the mic, the result can be unpleasant to your student and can even potentially cause hearing damage. Rather than screaming into the mic try mastering the vocal projection, a technique where you use your diaphragm muscle to create power in the delivery without excessive volume. Vocal projection creates peaks and valleys in vocal presentation, which allows you to emphasize key cues in each class. It also allows you to speak softly without compromising the students' ability to hear the instructor.
Tip #3 - Enunciation, Tone & Pace Your vocalization (or actual speech quality) impacts microphone clarity. Enunciation, pace and tone all affect how your voice is amplified. Enunciation is the art of using proper diction to ensure that your students can hear every letter of every word. Make sure to pronounce the beginning, middle and ending of every word. Pace is how 'quickly' and 'slowly' you speak. Find a pace that allows you to state your words and phrases clearly with natural breathing rhythms. In most cases, instructors find that slowing down even just a little allows students to comprehend cues more easily. Tone is the distinct pitch of one's voice. Tonal quality through the mic is most effective when it is natural. Use your normal, conversational tone when teaching. Instructors often have two different voices: their “teaching voice” and their “conversation voice.” There is no need for two voices; be yourself when you teach!
Tip #4 - Less is More Effective, meaningful cues must come from a place that is personal, natural and comfortable for you, otherwise you risk sounding like you’re reading from a script. Reciting someone else’s lines constantly will diminish your ability to impact your students. Remember that our words convey messages and evoke emotion, so choose your cues carefully. You will notice that the more powerful language you employ, the less you will have to say, thus giving your students time to actually assess your instruction and then implement it. It is better to have fewer cues with greater impact than too many cues with little or no substance. Oliver Wendell Holmes may have said it best, “Speak clearly, if you speak at all; carve every word before you let it fall.”
Tip #5 - Practicing Cueing Great cueing includes everything you say and do to help your participants follow the class correctly and reach their goals. Keep in mind... Your students want to understand more, be corrected, and know how to get the most from their workout. They want to feel successful. Your job is to add value – to be the catalyst between your participants’ abilities and their desired results – you also have to be more precise and strategic with cueing and also have eyes in the back of your head Practice saying your cues often, so you can say them quickly and efficiently. You can practice this while you’re doing other stuff — taking a shower or driving in the car. Think about an exercise you want to do in your next class, and go through the cues you’ll use. I strongly encourage you to practice saying your cues out loud. It makes such a difference to say it instead of think it. If you can, also practice your cues to the music you’re going to use. That way, you’ll get used to how much time you have to get through all the instruction you want. And always teach as if there is a new person in class... Even if there isn’t a new person in class, cover the basics well. Great instructors send and continue to send consistent messages of support. Give enough guiding tips to provide the first-timer with a well-informed and successful experience. Even long-term participants appreciate the basics being covered in a fresh and interesting way.
Tip #6 - Feedback ALWAYS ask for feedback! Throughout the class, I always ask, “How's the volume? Can you hear me?” I have my people give me a thumbs-up or thumbs down to give me an indication if I need to modify my mic volume. Asking for feedback is critical because it's better than someone being miserable the whole time because they cannot have a great workout without your directional or verbal cues.
Tip #7 - Don’t be afraid of silence. You don’t need to talk all the time, nor do you need to feel guilty about talking a lot. You’ll find your sweet spot between periods of silence and cueing. Especially in the warm-up and class intros, you can (and should!) talk a lot. The rest is up to you.
The list of benefits that come from mastering the mic goes on and on! As you hone this skill more and more, you will find additional ways that it can help benefit you and your students!