Selecting a Microphone for Public Speaking


Selecting the optimal microphone for public speaking engagements is a critically important decision. As a speaker or presenter, your goal is to communicate your message clearly to inform and engage your audience. All too often, audio issues can be a problem, including sound levels that are too variable, the proximity effect, cable hazards, clothing noise, or poor overall sound quality can irk your audience.

Choosing the best type of microphone for public speaking is key and knowing how to use it correctly is a rarer skill than one would imagine. For example, you would not want to do a presentation with a new laptop you’ve never used before. Or show slides you haven’t seen before. In a similar vein, you should be comfortable with the main types of microphones ahead of time, including:

Podium Microphone
In many venues, the default microphone is a flexible gooseneck microphone mounted on a podium or lectern.

There are two things that every presenter must do when speaking from a podium. First, adjust the microphone to the appropriate height and angle. You want it aimed at your head, not your chest or shoulder. Second, stay in front of the microphone. Avoid standing next to the podium or walking away to point at the screen or white board. If you do, the audience will not hear you clearly.

Lavalier Microphone
One of the most common microphones for presentations is the wireless lavalier. A wireless lavalier clips onto your shirt or blouse and the transmitter onto your belt or in a pocket. Having your hands free is liberating and movement around a stage should not impact the sound quality.

Don’t forget before and after your presentation to turn the microphone off to avoid side conversations or other things you do not want to broadcast to the audience.

Headset Microphone
In larger rooms with a big audience, a lavalier microphone may not have enough power to reach everyone clearly and avoid feedback. A headset microphone is a nice solution that eliminates that issue and also provides less visibility of a microphone on camera. The headset microphone has a thin boom that puts the microphone element just off to one side of your mouth. Because it is closer to the sound source, there is also less risk of feedback.

Handheld Microphone
A handheld wireless microphone gives you more control over your sound, but requires a little more discipline. For those experienced in using them, they offer an unrivaled ability to change your sound instantly. Funny wedding toasts fit this category well. This is also why standup comedians use handheld microphones for their routines.

For consistent sound, learn to keep the microphone head centered at about breast pocket level. Minimize any waving around or letting it drift lower as you speak.

Remember the goal is to deliver clear, intelligible audio that engages people. If the audience is more focused on sound issues than your message, you’re doing it wrong. Get comfortable with these four common types of presentation microphones and you’ll knock your next presentation out of the park!

Please contact us at 610-626-7600 for any of your microphone rental or purchase needs or to ask questions on which microphone would be best for a particular event or location.