Channeling is generally associated in the public mind with various persons who claim to go into trances and then are taken over by some sort of spirit. Since the Michaels are not a spirits or ghosts, this has no meaning in their context. The Michaels consider a "legitimate" channel to be "an Old Soul whose Life Plan includes Mid-Causal channeling, and whose overleaves make channeling possible." They also acknowledge a margin of error of about twelve to fifteen percent, even with legitimate skilled and experienced mediums. Variables can include fatigue, the nature of the question, and the available energy at hand. Michael's "take" on "time" can also result in error. A medium will also "block" some information for any number of reasons, including "past" experiences.

As anyone who has read the books can tell you, the Michaels can be quite eloquent, but their version of the English language is distinct and all their own. Grammar and syntax as the Michaels use them, are unique and consistent, and have been through five mediums and almost thirty years.

A session with the Michaels and a medium is simple, relaxed, and not at all dramatic or exotic. Unlike the early days, no Quija board is used. As those present ask questions in turn, most everyone is purposefully trying to accurately record with pen-and-paper or on a laptop computer the Michaels' words. Sessions can also be recorded and later transcribed.

Here's a definition of channeling from The Skeptics Dictionary by Robert Todd Carroll that highlights many of the reasons channeling has gotten a bad name.

The Michaels had these words (on February 2, 2005) concerning communication through channels:

As we have indicated in the past, there are subjects upon which words are apt to fail us. These are subjects associated with concepts outside the usual "human" experience which lack not only vocabulary but actual context that we can address. There are in fact limitations put upon us because, eloquent though it may be, language is extremely limiting, particularly in regards to these concepts we have mentioned.

Some of what we can discuss only directly with you, we can communicate far more clearly to cetaceans¹ because of their concision in regards to what you call music. Just as they do not in fact readily express complex intellectual concepts, so you do not have a frame of reference that allows for these particular areas of understanding to be communicated in any form that is "close" to the manner in which it can be understood. Often, in seeking for the means to express these emotionally centered understandings, we find ourselves seeking out other phraseology in order to convey the conceptual issues we are endeavoring to communicate. Of course, circling a thing repeatedly does not necessarily identify it, and just as you would hear communication of intellectual concepts expressed to cetaceans as a "theme-and-variation" melody line, so we are reduced, when constrained by language, to approach the ineffable with the tools at hand, however inefficiently.

When repetition begins to insinuate itself into multiple answers, it is a good indication that the understanding and execution of major composers for mediums might come closer to capturing our meaning through melodic interpretation. That does not mean that there is a one-to-one ratio between emotional and intellectual information -- we did not say that and did not mean to imply it. However, should you be willing to consider our "circling the subject" as an attempt at melodic extrapolation, grasping the nature of the problem may be more readily accessed. Of course where there is "static on the line", neither melody or [sic] vocabulary can serve to break though information to those who are determined not to receive it.

¹ Micheal contend that cetaceans -- whales and dolphins -- are the only other ensouled species on Earth, although there are more than 10 million ensouled species in our galaxy.