Public Speaking: Seven Tips to Using a Mic

February 24th, 2009 by Frank Damelio

In many cases, if a mic is available, and you have over forty people in your audience, use the mic.

Darwin Ortiz, a world-class card shark, affirms that when performing his stunningly visual skills “it is more important to be heard than seen”.  This comment  is from a man who makes his living with a deck of cards.  I’m sure he’s performed in every type of situation, and his experience is that volume is essential.

Granted, some shy people will prefer not to be heard when speaking, but this will KILL your presentation. You will lose your audience.  It is much better to use a mic.

Here are some suggestions:

1) Nobody will focus on a talking statue.  Take the mic off the stand so you can move around.

2) Avoid crowding the mic.  Adjust the volume so that you can keep the mic at least a few inches from your mouth.

3) Ideal amplifier volume is the point at which you are speaking fully, without straining.

4) A hand-held mic has some advantages over headsets and lavalieres.  You can have the audience comment into it, you can move it a bit closer or farther from your mouth for effect.  The benefit to the headset or lavaliere is that you are hands free.  Typically, a cheaper headset will still project, but a cheaper lavaliere may have trouble picking up your voice.  Of course, the negative to a headset is that it blocks your face a bit.

5) If you are wearing or holding a mic before or after your presentation MAKE SURE TO MUTE or TURN OFF.  Embarrassing stories abound about people who forgot to mute their mics and had their private remarks broadcast to a large audience.  Do you remember this happened to former President Bush?

6) Be careful with signal.  If you’re receiver is at the other end of the room, it will work perfectly when there is no audience.  However, on your big day, the bodies of your attendees can impede the signal; so your voice will randomly cut out.  This happened to me with a quality system.  I was forced to dump the mic and naturally project to a group of 300 people.  Not effective.

7) Have a member in the back of the audience use thumbs up/thumbs down to indicate “raise the volume/lower the volume”.

There you have it in a nutshell. Seven tips to using a mic.

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5 Responses to “Public Speaking: Seven Tips to Using a Mic”

  1. Matt Lourie Says:

    Good set of tips, especially #7. I think it is better than asking “can everyone hear me” :-)

    8. To avoid feedback, don’t point the mic at a speaker.

  2. Frank Damelio Says:

    Matt,

    Thank you for your comment, and for adding your valuable tip #8. Much appreciated.

  3. David Portney, Public Speaking Training Expert Says:

    Those are practical and useful tips, Frank – here’s my addition to the list, a tip I learned the hard way more than once:

    If you’re going to take questions from the group – never, ever, Never (did I mention never?) hand the microphone over to an audience member.

    If you do, be prepared to never, ever get the microphone back!

    Best,
    David Portney

  4. Frank Damelio Says:

    David,

    I almost always use a headset or lavaliere; so I never would have thought of that. I can see how such a situation could put the presenter in a VERY awkward position. I can only imagine trying to grab the mic back. If you get the wrong person, it could turn out to be a wrestling match, which is an entirely different type of presentation.

    As always you expertise is very much appreciated here.

    Best,

    Frank

  5. Best Public Speaking Tips and Techniques [2009-03-07] Says:

    [...] Damelio gives 7 tips to using a microphone. A hand-held mic has some advantages over headsets and lavalieres. [...]

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