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“I could not understand the instructor. His words were jumbled. She was screaming through the mic, and it hurt my ears.”

Has this happened to you? Have you ever found yourself saying or thinking these exact words? If so, you know how frustrating it can be when you are not able to fully understand or hear the instructor’s cues during class. Also, there can even be safety concerns when students cannot understand how to follow along properly.

Gone are the days when group fitness classes were taught without microphones. Today’s standards demand the provision of this essential presentation tool, both to protect the vocal anatomy of the instructor and to ensure a safe and pleasant experience for the student. However, as a group fitness professional, this skill can often take a backseat to the more technical aspects of the job. That’s why it’s important to remember that your expertise as a Spinning® instructor is only as valuable as your ability to share your knowledge clearly with your students, a fact that highlights the need for all instructors to learn to master the mic.

Let’s further examine the benefits mastering the mic has for both students and instructors:

 

Instructor Benefits

A microphone provides instructors with the ability to increase their volume, so they do not have to yell. The microphone’s ability to amplify the instructor’s voice can help protect their vocal cords which are critical for a professional coach because the occupation relies so heavily on verbal communication. The volume amplification is also helpful because it allows the instructor to speak in a normal, conversational tone without putting any additional strain on their vocal cords. The ability to deliver instructions that are conversational and easy to comprehend without putting too much physical strain on your vocal cords is what makes mastering the mic such an essential instructional tool.

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Student Benefits

For the student, the primary function the microphone serves is to ensure that verbal cues are both heard and understood at a comfortable level. When you strike an ideal balance between microphone volume and music volume, it provides a more enjoyable experience for the rider. Also, when you consider the learning curve that new students undergo, the ability for them to easily comprehend the instructor’s cues as their bodies are still adapting to the physical demands of Spinning® is integral.

Now, let’s examine three core variables to improve vocal delivery using the headset microphone:

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.

2. Enunciation, Tone & Pace

Second, 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!

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3. Vocal Projection

The third, and perhaps 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 riders and can even potentially cause hearing damage. The Centers for Disease Control indicate that hearing loss can occur from frequent exposure to noise at or above 85 decibels or even a one-time exposure at or above 120 decibels. [i]

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, such as cues needed to overcome an intense hill. It also allows you to speak softly without compromising the students’ ability to hear the coach.

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!

This article was contributed by Spinning Master Instructor, Luciana Marcial-Vincion.

[i]   http://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/noise/signs.htm

Comments

  • Josephine C Wyatt

    This was a GREAT session in WSSC presented by Lu. I improved my mic skills in the class. My students understand me more and is able to really enjoy the ride without someone yelling in the face.

    Posted On February 10, 2017

  • Lisa Manchell

    OMG!! I have teaching for a year, I have had great comments from all the gym members, BUT they can’t hear me or they can’t understand me. I was just telling someone, I needed some Mic training. Thank you! Perfect timing.

    Posted On February 16, 2017

  • Ken Boyd

    I concur with all of the comments in this article and I would take it one step further and suggest purchase your own microphone and transmitter. Keep a fresh supply of batteries with you at all times. Nothing worse than getting to a class and finding the club mic is not working or the batteries are dead and the club is out of batteries. Be proactive and a happy instructor. 🙂

    Posted On February 17, 2017

  • Kathleen

    Great reminder…. especially if you do not take classes. We get wrapped up in the other components of class that we forget that if the student can’t understand us, it will change the entire class for them!

    Posted On February 17, 2017

  • Marc Yergin

    What you describe is what I learned to do the hard way. Too many of my fellow instructors at the club I teach at either don’t use microphones and end up sounding like an army drill sergeant of the old school or try to use one and swallow it. In either case, the result is the same: gibberish. There is also a tendency to turn the music AND the microphone up as loud as possible. I check my volume with a db app on my iPhone. I routinely am between 75 and 80 db. Other instructors rattle the windows. I would think when an instructor sees students putting ear plugs in their ears they might think their music is too loud. Then again, these are the same ones who don’t bother making sure new (and old) students are sitting on bikes that are properly adjusted. Unfortunately, some students get used to this and feel “cheated” if the instructor is not blasting music and voice at very loud levels and get insulted if efforts are made to help them properly adjust their bikes. If they do allow me to help on bike adjustment the common immediate comment is “that is so much better.” Go figure.

    Posted On February 17, 2017

  • rosanna

    great info thank you

    Posted On February 20, 2017

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