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Microphone Techniques: 7 Mistakes Speakers Make and How to Avoid Them

If you're thinking about using a microphone for your next presentation, but don't know where to start, here are seven mistakes speakers make and how to avoid them.

1. Not doing a proper sound check

It's important to arrive early and work with the sound technician to make sure the microphone is EQ'd for the room. You'll want to check the sound levels and make sure your voice sounds as natural as possible. If you hear an echo ask the sound tech to turn of the reverb. Also, if you are an animated speaker and/or move around the room it's important to spend a few minutes walking and talking like you would during your presentation so the sound tech can make sure your movements aren't causing any feedback.

2. Choosing the wrong microphone

There are several different types of microphones for you to choose from. The most popular are handheld, lapel and headset. There are pros and cons to each type and you'll want to choose a microphone that works best for you.

I like using a cordless hand held microphone or a hand held with a really long cord. I move around a lot and the handheld gives me the ability to control the conversation when I'm interacting with members of the audience. In addition, I can cough or have a drink of water without the audience hearing every sound.

3. Pointing the microphone at the speaker

We've all been there. Sitting in the audience when a speaker makes this mistake and there is a loud squeal. Pay attention to how you are holding the mic and be mindful if you are wearing a lapel or headset to make sure you don't stand to close to the speakers or walk in front of them.

4. Yelling into the mic

The purpose of a microphone is to amplify your voice so you can speak at a comfortable volume and the audience can hear you without straining their ears.

Yelling into the mic defeats this purpose.

If you want to raise and lower your voice dramatically the best strategy is for you to use a handheld microphone and pull it away from your mouth when your volume increases. If you're wearing a lapel mic or a headset please don't yell. Your audience will suffer and you'll look like a buffoon.

5. [Any amount of] Reverb

Reverb is good for singers. Bad for speakers. Enough said.

6. Letting the drunk guy on stage

I learned this one the hard way. Granted I was exhausted after a 12 hour drive from Ft. Nelson, BC to Red Deer, AB and was just trying to get the audiences attention.

7. Talking too fast

Every room is different. And the way sound bounces off the ceiling and walls will affect the way you sound. To avoid your words blending together and sounding jumbled remember to slow down.

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