In our 40+ years of experience in audio production, Lynx partners have provided sound engineering for thousands of events. It’s our job to ensure quality audio is delivered I’ve noticed a familiar theme among many large speaking events and conferences – not everyone is familiar with using microphones properly when speaking. It can even be downright daunting once you realize that…yes, proper microphone technique is vital for doing what you’re trying to do: address the public.
Microphone Technique when Addressing an Audience
Are you terrified to speak into a microphone? It turns out that glossophobia, or the fear of public speaking, is actually quite common. Making that fear louder would just be rubbing dirt in the wound, right? Health issues aside, let’s look at three things to “hold on to” for proper handheld microphone placement and usage when speaking.
Speak Towards the Microphone
The microphone can commonly be taken as some “mysterious loudening device” that can’t be understood. I promise that there is a design to the common “handheld” SM58-style dynamic microphone. That design requires some work on the part of the user. Proper microphone technique means pointing your mouth at the “ball” (the steel mesh grill) or pointing that ball at your mouth. Proximity and angle do play a part, but let’s not go there yet. Just let that thing do its job, near your face, while you speak towards it. Do not hold it at your chest, that is not what the microphone is for!
Don’t “Chew” on the Microphone
If the microphone is up to your lips, you may not be exhibiting ideal microphone technique. You’ve seen those rock stars who do that or those MCs who are practically devouring the microphone. There are several reasons they can do that, none of which I’m going to go into here. So just don’t “chew” on the microphone.
If there are 2-4 inches between your lips and the grill of the microphone, you are in business. Without getting into the science of what makes this an ideal distance, just think of the grill of the microphone as an ice cream cone you are perpetually savoring. You wouldn’t just keep your creepy mouth all up on that ice creamy goodness (sorry to my dairy/sugar/gluten-free readers). The ice cream would just melt and ruin everything. You have to be diligent in maintaining a safe but suitable distance.
Don’t Cover the Microphone
Where all my rappers at? That’s who I see pulling this old trick time and again during hip-hop concerts I’ve worked. It does look cool, it does modify the tone and the dynamic capabilities of the microphone – but is not ideal microphone technique for the faint-of-heart in a public address situation.
Keep your hand(s) off the steel mesh grill. It is easy to modify (or diminish) the sound quality of your voice as it passes through a hand cupped over the grill, and it may startle you. Please just hold on to the part of the microphone below the grill.
It’s important. For everyone. Especially you.
Do you have some questions about how to be ready on stage for your next big speaking event, and still a little terrified of the microphone? Share your stories and questions below.
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