I came upon an informative piece of literature called The Power User's Guide To Successful Webinars by Citrix (GoToWebinar).
 The document is full of helpful hints on putting together a webinar, including the need for long-term strategy.
When it comes to speaker selection, the document says "Regardless of the webinar topic or theme, speaker selection is an important decision. There are a variety of qualities to look out for in a webinar speaker, but subject matter proficiency is key."
Yes, indeed, knowing the subject is crucial. However, nowhere in the 17-page document is there even a mention that one of the qualities should be the ability to speak without a lot of audible pollution.
In similar form, the "13 Most Common Mistakes People Make When Giving a Speech" does not mention audible speaker pollution.
Does the speaker start his or her presention with "Um", "Uh", or some audible, non-sensical utterance? Believe me, I've heard keynote and webinar speakers begin their presentation with "Um". Is that inspiring? No.
Does the speaker pepper his or her presentation with a lot of audible pauses like "Um", "Uh", "You know"? I've left webinars because the speaker pollution index created more distraction than interest in the topic. In one recorded interview with interviewer and guest, there were nearly 750 audible pollutions. This mind-boggling number was contributed by both interviewer and speaker. After those audible pollutions were removed, the interview flowed nicely. Imagine driving down a bumby dirt road and then driving in free-flowing traffic on a paved Interstate. That's the difference between polluted and clean audio.
Pollution does not always come out of the mouth. Speakers can create other distractions, such as tapping on the podium (where a podium-mounted microphone will easily capture each tap).
In this day and age of easy electronic production, which can put nearly anyone in front of an audience, the idea of good speaking ability seems to have been lost.
After attending, listening, and cleaning up interviews and presentations, I offer 10 tips for speakers to reduce the pollution factor.
  • Start right. Not with "um" or "uh". If introduced, start with "Thank you, Jane. Good morning everyone." Anything but the pollution!
  • Slow down. Better to slow down and think a bit before speaking. This cuts down on the number of false starts or shifts in direction mid-sentence. Slower speaking also makes editing easier.
  • As an interviewer, formulate questions silently, then speak.
  • Think, and speak, in short sentences. This will help the listener and an audio editor. You are also less likely to lose your point in a long-winded, run-on sentence.
  • Get training. There are plenty of options: Toastmasters, personal coaches, co-workers.
  • Become conscious of your audible, polluting, pauses. Most speakers are not aware of their audio pollution. Getting conscious is a first start to reducing the pollution factor.
  • Become concscious of your non-verbal noises that can create huge distractions or irritations. This includes tapping on the podium, the desk, the phone, tapping the desk with your foot. Are you constantly clicking a ball point pen because you are nervous?
  • Talk into a phone's handset, not a speaker phone. The microphone on the handset gives a better sense of being present in the same room.
  • Skip the cell phone. Cell phone audio quality can vary greatly -- from good to really bad.
  • Don't talk over an interviewer or other guests. While the discussion may be lively and even exciting, imagine the difficulty of a listener to grasp important points.
  • Repeat questions if there is any doubt the audience may not hear the questions from listeners.
-- Bruce Miller
SpeakerEdit.com -- Clean Speech for Easy Listening