Unless it’s something you’ve had real life practice with, using a microphone for the first time, or first time in a long time can be quite daunting! And when everyone is quiet, eyes are on you and there’s a crowd waiting on your every word, it can feel pretty intimidating to try and remember what you have to say, as well as getting the sound quality right.
Here are our top tips from Party Hire Group on how to get the best quality sound when using a microphone.
Do a sound check beforehand
A sound check before your guests or audience has arrived is essential. Set the scene as close to exact as possible, including where you’ll be standing, where the speakers will be and where your sound technician (or ‘standby person’ will be). A useful list to run through for your microphone sound check should cover,
- Turning the microphone on and off – This will ensure you catch any positions that might trigger static audio.
- Stand in speaking position – By doing this you’ll be able to check the speaker volume and make sure your microphone is audible and heard throughout the room.
- Adjust the speaker volume to the level needed – The speaker levels may vary depending on if you’re playing music, using the microphone or otherwise, however knowing the level it should be at for when it’s your turn is important to know so you can adjust this quickly when the time comes.
- Practice your entry and exit – Have a plan for how you’ll receive the microphone to begin speaking, i.e. who will pass it to you and where, will it be on or off etc, and know how you’ll be returning it afterwards, i.e. switching it off and placing it on a table, returning it to someone else or otherwise. This might sound minor, but it will save any awkward impromptus and will help calm the nerves by knowing in advance exactly what you need to do.
Prepare and practice with a microphone beforehand
You’ll be surprised how different it sounds hearing yourself with and without a microphone, and you may find you need to adjust your voice or tone slightly to allow for this. It’s also important to know how loud or not your voice projects when using a microphone. People who have strong, deep voices will usually need to hold the microphone slightly away from their mouth, whereas those with softer voices should try and angle the microphone more directly towards their mouth to get the best volume – more on microphone techniques next.
Techniques for using your microphone
- Managing volume fluctuations – Move the microphone closer to your mouth to project louder, and away for when you want to tone it down softer.
- Be mindful of heavy breathing into the microphone – Where you position the microphone can capture every small sound, including breathing! Turning your head to the side or pulling the microphone away slightly when you exhale will help avoid any heavy breathing noises. Trying to control your breathing to steady breaths also helps manage this.
- Avoid popping when speaking words containing P’s and B’s – Popping is the term used for pronouncing words containing P’s and B’s that accentuate burst of air noises. While you can’t avoid actually saying the word or pronouncing a p or b, simply pull the microphone away slightly or try to minimise the pop sound when speaking.
- Avoid sibilence when speaking words containing S and F sounds – Similarly, sibilance is the hissing sound made when pronouncing words with strong F and S sounds. The microphone will capture your articulation, so a good technique can be to not draw out your words for too long.
- Stand or sit with good posture – Speaking into the microphone with good posture means your back straight and up tall, open arms and legs strong holding you upright or relaxed if sitting. This will help your words be articulated more clearly, your voice and breath be more controlled, and make it much easier for people to hear and possibly even see (for lip readers) what you’re saying.