If you are giving a speech at a venue that requires a microphone, chances are you’re speaking in front of a decent-sized crowd. Good for you! But if you’ve never given a public address using a microphone before, you should keep a few things in mind. For the most part, you can deliver your speech as you normally would but there are factors concerning your voice, body movements, and clothing you should consider.
Here are 13 tips to help you give a better speech when you have to use a microphone.
1. Rehearse with a mic in your hand
If you are unaccustomed to speaking with a microphone in your hand, don’t let the first time you do it be when you get up on stage. Practice delivering your speech while holding a microphone, or something shaped like a microphone, at least so you know how it feels in your hand. It will give you a sense of how to carry yourself and how to hold your mic arm as you speak. If you normally use gestures while speaking, you’ll have to rethink them for when you have a mic in your hand.
2. Stand at the right distance
Stand too far away from the mic and your voice will be too soft; stand too close and the audience will hear you breathing. Before you give your speech, learn what the proper distance from the mic is. For most people, this is 3-4 inches from the mouth. Get a microphone you can practice with and train yourself to hold it at the right distance from your mouth as you go through your speech.
3. Speak directly into the mic
Many people try to speak above the microphone when they use it for the first time. Instead, you should speak directly into it. Also remember that If you turn your head away from the mic, your voice will get too quiet.
4. Don’t fidget with your mic arm
Public speaking makes some people nervous and they may fidget or shake as a result. If you are standing behind a podium, small tremors or movements may not be as noticeable (although you should try to control your movements as much as possible even behind a podium!).
If you are standing freely or walking around and holding your mic, train yourself to keep your arm steady. Also, during a longer speech your arm might start cramping up from being bent to hold the mic to your mouth. To avoid this discomfort, practice switching the mic to your other hand mid-speech a few times.
5. Ask for feedback
Although you don’t want feedback from your mic, you may want some from a friend who watches and listens to your speech. If you can have someone listen to you in the room you’ll be giving the speech in, with the mic on, then that person can let you know exactly how you’ll sound. Getting those conditions isn’t always possible before the speech, though. Even if you can’t be in the exact room you will be speaking in, you can still practice in front of one or two other people to gauge how you sound.
6. Record yourself
You may not have someone available to listen to you rehearse your speech with a mic. If that’s the case, record yourself. It’s probably a good idea to record yourself anyway, whether you have a second person to listen to you or not. When you listen to your recording, you can hear for yourself how you sound and make adjustments to your tone or delivery if needed.
7. Use your natural speaking voice
You don’t need to adopt a special voice for speaking into a microphone. Speak with the same tone variation and expression as you would without the microphone. Use your natural voice — it will make you feel more comfortable and confident, and your audience will respond more positively to your speech.
8. Do a sound check on the day of the speech
Always try to do a sound check with your microphone right before giving your speech. Arrive at the venue early and ensure the following:
- You know how your microphone works. You don’t want to accidentally mute yourself!
- Everything is hooked up correctly. Ideally the venue will have audio technicians who can handle this for you, but you should look it over yourself just to be sure.
- The sound quality is good. You don’t want the sound to be too quiet or too loud. Have one person sit far from the speakers and one close to them while you’re doing sound check.
9. Know which type of mic you’re using
There are two types of microphones you could potentially use for your speech: lavalier or handheld. If you know you will have to use a mic for your speech, don’t assume it will be handheld or even wireless. You may have to use a podium or mic stand — or you may have to clip the mic onto your clothing if it’s a lavalier mic.
If it’s a lavalier microphone, also known as a lapel or lav mic, wear something suitable to clip the mic onto. A jacket with lapels or a shirt with a collar usually works best. It may also have a wireless transmitter, which you will have to keep in a back pocket or somewhere else on your person.
10. Ditch your phone
This should be obvious, but don’t take your cell phone with you when you give a speech in front of an audience. Or, at the very least, turn it off. Don’t just silence it either, turn it completely off. Cell phone signals can interfere with the audio equipment in the room and cause feedback.
11. Watch your jewelry
You want to keep objects from bumping into the microphone as much as possible. Refrain from wearing jewelry that could hit the mic when you speak. With lapel mics, necklaces can get in the way and with handheld mics, bracelets might bump against them. While you’re at it, ensure your hair won’t brush against the microphone either. If you’re using a lapel mic and you have long hair, consider tying it back.
Give an awesome speech with a microphone
If you want to be a successful public speaker, you’ll eventually need to learn how to speak with a microphone. Fortunately, it’s a skill you can master with a little practice. As long as you prepare adequately before your speech, you should have no trouble using a microphone.