Hints for Speaking into a Microphone - dummies

Hints for Speaking into a Microphone

By Judy Apps

Part of Voice and Speaking Skills For Dummies Cheat Sheet (UK Edition)

Using a microphone is straightforward. Use the same full voice you would normally use to be heard in conversation and you sound good. Don’t try to be anyone else by putting on a special microphone voice. Put feeling and interest into your voice to engage people as you would without a mike.

Here are just a few practical tips you need to remember:

  • Know your mike. Microphones come in many different types and styles, including:

    • Handheld. With this mike, keep the ball of the microphone below your mouth a few centimetres from your face and pointed toward your nose so that the air travels over the mike and not directly into it. Alternatively, touch the ball to your chin and keep it there.

    • Lavaliere mike. This is a mike that clips to your lapel or collar, and usually has a battery pack that you attach to your waistband. Speak normally as if speaking to a small group without a mike. The mike allows you to move about freely, but try not to turn your head too much. If you need to constantly turn to look at a screen, clip the mike to that side of your lapel.

    • Podium mike. Point the microphone at your mouth about two hand widths away, and speak across the mike, not into it. Don’t turn right away from the mike. If you have to adjust the mike, bend the neck without touching the mike itself to avoid nasty feedback.

  • Find the on off button before you start! Find the on, off, standby and mute buttons before your speech so that you aren’t caught in confusion in front of your audience. Switch to the appropriate mode before and after you speak. Speakers have occasionally been highly embarrassed by making an intimate comment off the cuff with the mike still on, and being heard by everyone present!

  • Do a sound check. Always find an opportunity to try your microphone before you speak, whether a technician is in charge of the sound system or not. Every venue and system is different, so get someone to check the sound with you and evaluate volume and quality from different parts of the room.

  • Test just before speaking. Don’t blow into the mike or hit the top which makes an unpleasant sound for your audience. Instead, gently tap the side just under the mouthpiece or speak your first words listening for amplification. Wireless mikes take a second to kick in after being switched on, so count to 3 before you speak.

  • Wear the right clothes. Wear something with a lapel or tie for the lavaliere mike for easy clipping. A front-opening jacket or a blouse is also fine. Beware of clothes that rustle, and make sure that buttons and jewellery are out of the way to avoid amplifying their sounds. Have a belt or waistband to clip the battery pack to, or a pocket to slip it into.

  • Keep your distance. Don’t get too close to the microphone, which distorts your voice. The microphone is designed to capture a voice that flows over or across it, not into it. If you get too close, the mike amplifies every breath, click, pop and hiss.