who’s your boss? the microphone, that’s who.

The microphone is your boss. Give it the respect it deserves.

I posted a blog this morning about Yahoo’s former bureau chief David Challian’s open-mic gaffe at the Republican National Convention. A gaffe that led to his ouster. I’ve had my own close calls and scrapes with ill-timed utterances into a hot mic. I’m not a broadcaster, but I know a thing or two about proper (and improper) behavior with a microphone.

For the past 11 years, I’ve moonlighted as a PA announcer for a local college athletics program. I’m fairly used to either holding a mic or having one attached to my head. When the proverbial red light is on, you have to be on your game and aware at all times of the mic. Like it or not, the microphone is the boss. And if you screw up and say the magic, four-letter word into a hot mic, you could find yourself in a bit of a jackpot.

Understanding this responsibility, I work very hard to make sure any off-mic remarks I choose to make are definitely off-mic. It only takes one time to bleat out a four-letter word and hear it reverberate back to you to realize you just screwed up BIGTIME. And, yes, it did happen to me once.

During a women’s basketball game, the opposing team scored a basket on a great play. As the point guard knifed through two defenders on her way to a pretty lay-up, my emotion got the best of me and I blurted out the four-letter word. As soon as I said it, I was greeted with it echoing back to me over a cacophony of laughter from the bleachers. That’s when I realized I just screwed up. It has never happened again.

I wasn’t fired for my transgression. Probably because my four-letter word of choice was, “nice!” Unprofessional? Yes. Stupid? You bet. Offensive? Nah, not really. People thought it was funny.

My point: never lose sight of what you’re saying—what you’re thinking, even—when performing a job that requires speaking into a microphone. I don’t care if it’s in broadcasting, PA announcing or working as a hostess at Olive Garden. Treat that microphone like it’s your boss…because it is.

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