Public Speaking Tips #2

Public speaking can be terrifying for some people.  This is part of a series of presentation and public speaking tips from CDS. Our tips will hopefully help you to master the basic technical skills of presenting so you can focus on delivering your message.

Proper Microphone Technique – Public Speaking

One of the important skills that a performer learns is proper microphone technique – a singer will move the microphone back and forth to change the sound and manually control levels when they are belting out a song.

In general however, microphone technique for public speaking is far simpler but there are still a few basic techniques that will help you look and sound your best when presenting at a conference.

Lectern Microphones

Lectern MicPresenting from a lectern is pretty easy, however an inexperienced presenter can still make a few mistakes.  The biggest mistake we regularly see is a presenter that turns away from the microphone to look at the screen behind them and ends up talking to the back of the stage!  There is nothing the audio visual technician  can do to fix this – you really do have to talk into the microphone if you want to be heard!  So you should stand in front of the lectern microphones, project your voice and face the audience.  There is no need for you to adjust or move the microphones – the audio visual technician will make sure you are heard.

Your lectern should have two microphones.  This enables you to turn your head from side to side to address everyone in the audience without moving outside the microphone zone.  Sometimes though you will only find one microphone at the lectern.  When this is the case, it is best for you to stay focussed in front of the lectern – don’t step away from the lectern!

Hand Held Microphones

This is the traditional microphone that you are used to seeing on talk shows, interviews etc.  The most common mistake made with this microphone happens when people are nervous.  When a presenter is unfamiliar with using a microphone they feel uncomfortable holding it in front of their face – I’ve seen presenters hold the microphone pointed at their stomach!

For a hand held microphone to work best it should be held right in front of your mouth and a short distance away.  The easiest way to measure this it to make a fist with one hand, and place it against your lips and put the microphone against the other side of your fist.  Then, remove your fist.  This is how close the microphone should be to your mouth for it to work optimally.  Just speak at a normal level – don’t whisper and there is no need to shout!  The audio visual technician in the room will make sure you are heard.

Lapel (Lavalier) Microphone

lapel_miclapel microphone (also known as a lavalier) can be one of the trickier ones.  The most common error here is to clip the microphone to one side of your body, and then turn your head and speak the other way!  Generally, the microphone should be clipped about where the 2nd button on a shirt would be – in the centre.  This isn’t always possible (especially with some clothing) but if it can be located centrally it will work to its best capability.

The second biggest issue is the clothing itself.  Clothes with lots of ruffles, folds and loose material allows the microphone to get ‘lost’ in the folds and it can brush against the material as you move, making a loud ‘crunchy’ sound boom into the room.  If possible, try not to wear that puffy pirate shirt when you are going to present at a conference!

Oh, one more thing.  A lapel microphone has a small transmitter pack at the end of the cord – about the size of the deck of cards.  The transmitter has various clips etc to attach it to a belt or similar, but can be much more convenient for you if you have a pocket.

When presenting to an audience you should face forward, project your voice and use the fold back monitor to keep track of your presentation.  Using these microphone techniques you will look and feel more confident and delegates are more likely to pay attention.  They will take in your message when you direct your speech to them, rather than the back of the stage!

Stay tuned for more presentation and public speaking tips in the future and as always, call us on 1300 852 552 or contact us for an obligation free quote!