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April 19, 2011


Dick LaRosa

Thanks John for bringing this up. I usually can't hear what is said at our Consultants meetings but I don't complain because I know my hearing has deteriorated, and some others seem to hear. I can usually hear the beginnings of sentences, so I know that the speakers then drop their voices as they are thinking about what they are saying. I don't think a hearing aid can compensate for the speaker's lack of concern for audience members. I was taught to try to make contact with audience members, keep the volume up all the way through to the end of the sentence, and make sure they were hearing the message.

John Dunn

Thank you, Dick.

One of the finest speaking voices of all time, I think, was that of the actor Jonathan Harris. He portrayed "Dr. Smith" in the really silly TV program Lost In Space back in the 1960s, but he did it with such exquisite speech.

From what I read, he had to lose a very strong Bronx accent to do this, but he really did do it!

There is an interview at


where you can get to hear what I'm referring to.

Niall Mac Caughey

Microphone technique has a part to play.
My wife & I attended a table quiz in aid of a charity held at a local hotel in the large ballroom. The quizmaster was a 'quizmistress'; a rather schoolmarm-ish little old lady.

She took the stage at the top of the room, but when she spoke into the microphone, all we could hear was 'mumble, mumble, mumble'. There was a mild revolt from the large audience and there was a pause in the proceedings while about 3 guys got to work on the sound equipment. The pause grew longer and longer until my wife started in with 'well, why don't you go and sort it out?'

There might be some people who would be touched by my wife's confidence in my abilities (we hadn't been married for very long), But I was very reluctant to get involved. I was working as a broadcast engineer, but I had little of the day-to-day experience of PA systems that would be needed. I also didn't have so much as a screwdriver with me. There were guys working on the kit who probably knew a lot more about it than me and wouldn't welcome someone else poking their nose in. Then there was the little matter of the audience. The hotel was opened in 1865 and had a huge ballroom. Even with all the tables crammed in, there must have been well over 400 people there and we were sitting at a table near the back.

Eventually as the delay lenghthened & my wife kept on pushing, I began the long, lonely walk to the stage. The guys didn't look thrilled to see me, but at least they didn't throw things. The gear was old but serviceable and I fiddled about for a while with different configurations. Then I tried the microphone. 'Testing, testing, 1,2,3,4,5' rang out across the room with crystal clarity and received a round of applause.

I bowed graciously to my 400 new fans and returned to my seat. I had just sat down when the old lady picked up the mike and began 'mumble, mumble, mumble..."

Niall Mac Caughey

I forgot to mention; the hotel has an engineering claim to fame.

It's explained rather badly here: http://www.royalmarine.ie/hotel-history/

Scroll down to the part where they mention Marconi.

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