Using a microphone is the perfect way to ensure your audience hears every word of your speech.
If you've never used one before and don't know just what to look our for, things can all go horribly wrong!
Tips to make sure that using a microphone enhances your speech rather than sabotages it!
Practice Using a Microphone
Get hold of a microphone in advance and PRACTICE. If you can
practice using a microphone in the venue where you will speak on the the day of performance, even better.
Work on standing at just the right distance from the microphone.
Ideally your mouth should be around 8 to 10 inches away. Too close, and
your audience will be able to hear your every breath (and possibly the
odd anxious gulp, too). Too far away and they won't hear you at all!
Don't speak INTO the mic, speak ACROSS it. Remember not to turn
away from the podium whilst you are speaking (this is where a bit of
practice beforehand comes in very handy!). The 8 to 10 inches will allow
you a little room for movement, without bumping into the mic. Practice
moving your body, but not your head,
Get Feedback, Vary Tone, Sound Check
Ask a friend to watch (and listen) then give feedback on your
microphone technique. Ask them to sit in various parts of the room -
including the very back - to see how you're coming across. If you don't
have a friend available, then record yourself and look out for any
Remember to use plenty of expression and variation in your tone,
just as you would without the microphone. Don't try to put on a special
voice - be natural and be yourself.
Even if you've managed to get in some practice beforehand, it's
still a good idea to do a quick sound check on the day (if possible).
This will highlight any problems before you get started.
Know Your Mic
This sounds obvious, but so often gets overlooked. Make sure you know how your microphone works.
In most situations, it will be set up and ready to go. But just in case
it's not - or if you accidentally mute yourself mid-speech! - it's good
to know exactly how to make yourself heard again.
In the same vein, find out ahead of time the style of
microphone you'll be using. In some situations, you may be given a
microphone that attaches to your clothing (a lavaliere mic). If so, wear
something suitable (ie a jacket with a lapel, a top that buttons up at
the front, or something with a collar). If the mic is wireless, you will
also need to wear the transmitter for it, ideally in a back pocket.
A lapel-type microphone will pick up sounds from your clothing,
so make sure there are no buttons or jewelry that will knock against it,
or that your hair won't brush over it when you move.
Hand-held microphones are less common for speeches, but if you DO
use one, don't move your hand around too much on the mic itself. This
is because it will amplify the handling noise, drowning out your words.
Manage Your Quality
Ever heard the ear-splitting screech of microphone feedback? Too
much of that, and your speech will be remembered for all the WRONG
reasons. To avoid it, keep your distance from the mic and adjust it by
bending the neck, NOT by touching the mic itself.
TURN OFF YOUR CELL PHONE. Aside from risk of your Justin Bieber
ringtone accidentally being broadcast across the room, cell phone
signals can interfere with audio equipment and cause feedback.
Hiding your lavaliere mic reduces audio quality. But, if you must, watch this video.