Do you suffer from Micro-phobia? (Fear of a live Mic)

Micro-phobia: fear of a live mic. Photo from

I interviewed an amazing entrepreneur last week. She’d grown up in Delhi, where she experienced the daily abuse women suffer in parks and on public transport. Surely technology could make women’s lives safer, she thought. So she gave up a well paid job to develop an Internet-of-Things solution to a problem that she just couldn’t ignore any longer. Great story! I get out the mic and the interview starts:

Me: “So what made you give up a well paid job and become an innovator?”

Her: “Well, it was such a high value proposition, I thought it was a very strong use case…”

What? WHAT? No, no, no. Stop, please stop.

I switched off the mic after a minute and told her she was throwing away the interview. We started again, I got my quotes. But if it had been a live interview, it would have been a terrible waste of a good story. Nobody would have kept listening past the first thirty seconds.

Afterwards I gave my entrepreneur some advice on dealing with Micro-phobia (fear of a live mic).

  1. Ignore the microphone – talk to the person behind it. The mic stresses you out, so you reach for safety. You imagine you should talk like an accountant because you’re talking about business. But unless you connect on an emotional level, you’re just more words in a noisy world. Talk with the same passion you had before the mic went live, talk like you’re just talking to me.
  2. Use the fear – it makes you more human. Ok, you hate speaking in public, you’re not a polished performer. Even so, you’re still here, facing the live mic. That means what you’ve got to say must be important to you. People will pick up on this and respect you for it. Don’t be afraid to admit you’re nervous, slow down, stop and restate what you really mean if you find yourself wandering. This is how normal people speak.
  3. Find some teenagers and practise on them. Ring up your local 6th form college, ask if you can come and talk to their students about being an entrepreneur. If you can face thirty bored teenagers, you can face any live microphone with a bit more confidence.

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