It seems easy enough, right? Speak into the microphone and your voice comes out of the speakers. Well, that’s true to a certain extent, but if you use the proper techniques you’ll be heard loud and clear.
A microphone performs a very simple task
When speaking to an audience your microphone and speakers work together to perform one task – to amplify what is going in to the microphone and project it through the speakers. This means that you need to control what is going in to the microphone and optimise how it comes out of the speakers.
We’ll start with the most important factors and gradually teach you how to get the perfect sound from your microphone and speaker system.
1. How to avoid microphone feedback (or squealing)
Feedback is the squealing sound that occurs when either the microphone is too close to the speakers, or the microphone level is set too high. It is simply the sound from the speakers going back into the microphone and coming back out of the speakers. This repeats over and over again and produces the unpleasant feedback sound. It is very easy to avoid. Don’t use the microphone too close to the speakers and don’t have the level set too high.
If you are speaking and a slight ringing sound can be heard then this is the first sign of feedback.
2. Project your voice
The microphone is there to make you louder, but the more you give it to work with – the clearer sound you will get. You don’t need to shout, but remember you are addressing an audience and project your voice with confidence. If you speak quietly and turn up the level to compensate then you are more likely to get feedback, pops and breath noises.
3. Hold the microphone close to your mouth
This is probably the most important factor in making sure you get a high quality sound from the speakers when speaking through a microphone. It is much worse to hold the microphone too far away from your mouth than it is to hold it too close but there is an optimum distance and you should try to hold the microphone around 3 inches away from your mouth.
“But, wait! On TV they hold it right down at chest level… and it sounds great.” – Well that’s because there are no speakers, so they can increase the level. You can get away with a lot more when the sound isn’t immediately being sent to some large speakers that are in the same room.
4. Speak into the microphone
Most microphones are designed to pick up what is in front of the head of the microphone. So point the head of the microphone towards your mouth. If you move around and turn your head that’s fine. Just make sure the microphone moves with you.
5. Testing, testing, one, two, one, two…
Where possible try to do a quick sound check before you go live. If multiple people are going to use the microphone then advise them of how to use it. If you don’t get the chance to go through these points fully then at least tell them when you pass the microphone how far away from their mouth to hold it.
6. Don’t phone a friend. Ask the audience.
Don’t feel uncomfortable to ask the audience if they can hear you – and if you do then you should definitely check that you’re not too loud. You don’t want people to be distracted from what you’re saying, either because you’re too quiet, or too loud. If you get the impression that the majority of the room need you to change the volume, then if you’ve followed the points above then you can confidently adjust the level of the microphone.
- Don’t stand too close to the speakers
- Speak loudly and clearly – the mic can’t do all of the work
- Hold the microphone around 3 inches from your mouth
- Speak into the head of the microphone, and the move the mic when you turn your head
- If possible do a sound check, and if not ask the audience