How To Use Microphones

Microphones are designed to help your voice, not replace it. No matter how good the microphone, without effective vocal technique, your voice could remain unheard. Proper breathing, plenty of lubrication and vocal exercises are needed to ensure your voice remains in tip top shape. With a good voice, even poor microphones can be effective.

Microphone basics

  • A microphone is a simple device that converts your voice into electrical signals. There are two main types, condenser and dynamic. If you are given a choice, go for condenser.
  • Microphones can pick up sounds from one direction (unidirectional) or all around (omnidirectional). If given a choice, go for omnidirectional.
  • Microphones are fragile. Treat them with care.
  • Wherever possible, use radio mikes; sound degrades when using long cables.

Microphone tips

1. Preparation is the key ? always practice with the microphone before using it 'live'. Conduct a sound check in the conference room.

2. When using handhelds, hold them firmly in your non dominant hand, about 20cm from your mouth.

3. When using clip on mikes (also known as lapel mikes, lavalieres or tie mikes), clip them on to your clothing on the side closest to the audience (preferably also the side that is opposite your dominant hand).

4. Don't shout; talk at your normal level.

5. Always assume the microphone is on?! But check it is on before speaking?!

These tips are provided for speakers and presenters by Graham Jones.

For more speaking tips see:

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