Whenever the president travels, there is a special bulletproof lectern called the “blue goose” or its smaller cousin the “falcon” in tow. Lately, the president Joe Biden making them almost obsolete as he increasingly reaches for a handheld mic instead.

From casual fundraisers to more formal remarks about responding to natural disasters, inflation and the like, Biden has opted for a microphone in hand more than a dozen times in recent months — even as he stood in front of the fixed dual microphones on the presidential seal-adorned lectern.

Those who know him best say that switching microphones makes Biden a more natural speaker, and he knows it.

When he makes the switch, there are obvious changes. His shoulders relax. A smile spreads across his face. He walks around the room, looking into her eyes.

“There are two tricks to public speaking, and neither of them are really rocket science,” said Mo Elity, a former Democratic consultant who is now executive director of Georgetown University’s Institute for Policy and Public Service. “First, you want to be as comfortable as possible. Second, you want to be authentic. And they go hand in hand.”

Elity said one of Biden’s strengths is his authenticity — “love or hate his politics, he’s a real guy who looks like one. This is because he is most comfortable talking to people as opposed to talking to them. Standing on the podium is formal.”

The president, who has acknowledged his struggles as a public speaker and struggles to overcome a persistent stutter, is often harsh as he reads his prepared remarks. As a candidate and now as president, he abandoned the traditional glass-paned teleprompters that were usually placed in the corners of the pulpit, preferring instead larger teleprompters on television screens.

His public style should be casual, down-to-earth — even folksy — as he works to connect with his audience. He tells his dad (or grandfather?) jokes, tells about his parents, wife, children, about his many years of government experience. But the sense of empathy and connection that he is able to cultivate in person is often absent in some of his larger events or live.

The microphone is, in a way, an attempt to bridge that gap.

Last week, as the president surveyed hurricane damage in Florida, he first spoke into stationary microphones while holding onto the sides of a lectern. But in the middle of his speech he called audible.

“Let’s see if this one works, does this one work?” Biden asked, grabbing a handheld microphone. The president then put his hand in his pocket and turned to the crowd as he continued to talk about the administration’s response to the disaster.

Aware of the power of stagecraft, Biden doesn’t completely avoid the iconic presidential podiums: They still keep paper copies of his remarks (in case the teleprompters get it wrong) and often a glass of water. But the built-in microphones are increasingly turned off.

Dark blue square stands with dark paneling—lots of them—are a symbol of the modern presidency.

Because of them, President Bill Clinton said, “I didn’t have sex with that woman,” the president Barack Obama announced that Osama bin Laden had been killed, and the Queen Elizabeth II was made almost invisible except for her hat as she was greeted on the South Lawn by President George W. Bush.

Now, when Biden’s staff puts a leather-bound folder of his written notes on the lectern, they also insert a portable microphone.

During a celebration of the Lower Inflation Act on the South Lawn, Biden donned aviators on a warm, sunny day and took out his microphone.

“With your permission, I will take off my coat,” he told the crowd, relaxing for a moment. – This does not mean that I will continue to speak.” He then said, “Folks, welcome to the White House.”

There are inevitably times when technology fails him. During a Democratic fundraiser for Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, the microphone signal kept going in and out, making it nearly impossible to hear Biden. But that doesn’t stop Biden.

Speaking recently at the headquarters of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Biden noticed a portable microphone.

“I’m going to use it,” he declared.