Microphone tips

Tip: Always request to use a wireless microphone it helps you to focus and connect with your audience without worrying about being heard.

Recently, I was fast-forwarding through a video tape of a conference proceeding trying to find “my” speaker –the person who had scheduled a one-on-one private coaching session. Because it was in fast-forward I happened to notice something; a similar interaction occurring just before every presentation.

It seemed the host must have been offering each speaker the use of a wireless microphone because after each private huddle a few speakers were handed a wireless unit, while most others just nodded or pointed toward the build-in microphone on the lecturn. Hmm…that’s odd, I thought.

Why would a speaker give up the opportunity to use a wireless microphone? Did they realize exactly what they were giving up when they made the decision NOT to use the wireless microphone? Did they realize they were giving up freedom? Did they realize they were limiting their ability to make a connection with the audience? Did they realize that they were potentially lessening the overall impact of the presentation?

Based on these questions I am sure you can guess that my advice is to NEVER refuse the use of a wireless microphone. In fact, my advice is even stronger than that…if it’s possible you should ALWAYS specifically REQUEST the use of a wireless microphone, even if one isn’t typically used or offered.Why, you ask?

Well, first, in general, a microphone is always a good idea. The goal is for you to always speak in your normal conversational tone of voice. You should never strain your voice just to be heard because the strain can limit your vocal variety.

Secondly, for some speakers, their normal tone is perhaps quieter than average and by using a microphone your voice can be artificially amplified allowing everyone to hear you, again, without you having to strain your voice or make you feel uncomfortable. For those that are naturally “loud” speakers, you can also have your voice artificially adjusted down to a happy medium level.

I know, I know, any microphone can solve that problem, so why a wireless microphone? Because most people have never trained/practiced using a built-in lectern microphone. Most speakers become frozen behind the built-in microphones, never moving their head or body fearing they won’t get picked up by the microphone. Or worse, they do move around and the volume of their voice fades as they move away from the microphone.

So what’s the trick? Obviously, if you turn your head away from the microphone you won’t be heard. So, the idea is to pivot or swivel around the microphone always keeping your mouth exactly the same distance away from the microphone.

If you want to move off to the left, move your entire body left but leave your head angled right toward the microphone. As you shift positions again, just remember to always keep your mouth angled toward the microphone and approximately the same distance away. For most, this requires regular practice in order to look smooth and natural with your movements.

Obviously, a wireless microphone frees you from having to remember to pivot your body and head exactly so. You simply put the microphone on and you can move and look wherever you want without having to worry about the sound quality. More importantly to me, though, is the ability to completely move away from the lectern all together. Yes, I almost always recommend that speakers try to move away from the lectern; if not for the entire presentation at least for part of it.

I have been doing this long enough to know that some of you are saying, “but in our field we ALWAYS present from behind the lectern”. To that I say, well, are you sure? Think back to the very few times you saw truly excellent speakers, I’d bet a paycheck, that the majority of these excellent speakers did not present from behind the lectern, at least not for the entire presentation.

I often suggest to my clients to make little changes, not big ones, and let the feedback (not your comfort level) be your guide for future changes. If you NEVER leave the lectern and EVERYONE presents from behind the lectern, then try to present just one small section front and center.

Maybe you can start the presentation out front, or perhaps when you get to your most important slide, you move to the side of the lectern, or better yet, walk a few steps forward toward your audience. Without a wireless microphone, not of this is really possible.

The wireless microphone lets you focus on connecting to your audience and not worry about being heard.

The biggest advantage of a wireless microphone is that you have the freedom to deliver your entire presentation without the obstacle of the lectern in front of you. The lectern limits your ability to make a direct connection with your audience, in fact, research supports this. The physically closer you can get, the more likely you are to persuade your audience. Your goal for all presentations should be to make a conversational connection with your audience and a wireless microphone facilitates your ability to do this.

So here’s this presentation skills quick tip in a nutshell…

If you are offered a wireless microphone, you should always respond with a cheerful, “Yes, absolutely”. Better yet, request one ahead of time so you can be assured of your freedom to make the connection with your audience!

Do you want to learn more? Sign up for the next small group presentation skills workshop, consider one-on-one coaching, or ask your organization to sponsor a large group seminar. After all, you didn’t learn to ride a bike by reading a book–you needed an expert coach (your Dad) to show you how to do it and then you needed lots of encouragement and practice, right? That’s what I can offer.

Don’t agree with me? As always, I am interested in your feedback. Please leave a comment here or feel free to call our listener line to leave a recorded comment. Oh and be sure to let me know if it’s OK to use your voice on an upcoming podcast or your words and a name on blog posting.

There are 2 comments .


I always ask for a wireless mic when doing public presentations. I recently started using the mics that are almost invisible. I have used the “headset” wireless mics but they are bulky and mess your hair up. I think you need to spend a good $400 for a mic that is something you can be proud of.

Thanks for the excellent post.

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I agree that the old preacher microphones are big and bulky and lead to a more non-professional type of presentation. I think you will spend $500+ on getting a wireless microphone that will allow you to be clear and concise and without a receiver very nearby.

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