Lavaliere or handheld? Mic tips for either option

Whether your presentation preference is to grasp the microphone or attach it to a lapel or neckline, these helpful hints will help you keep the audience focused on your message.

Are you more of a lavaliere mic user or a handheld mic aficionado?

That’s an important question for presenters. Your answer comes with a set of considerations you must keep in mind before taking the stage at your next presentation:

For lavaliere lovers

  • Simplification. If you are using a lavaliere microphone while presenting, you should expect to have to battle a cluster of cords. The clothing you wear for your presentation will determine how well you can hide these cords. Presenters who opt to use a lavaliere mic should wear a garment with a lapel. Men should consider donning a tie so that they don’t have to worry about where to clip the microphone.
  • Gesturing. Many presenters enjoy the freedom that using a lavaliere microphone affords them. Timing hand gestures with your narrative is a far simpler task without a handheld mic getting in your way. If your cords are concealed properly, you can generously gesture, but those cords must be positioned and secured correctly.
  • Stability. A concern that comes with lavaliere microphones is the stability of the particular device you are using. Before beginning your presentation, make sure the microphone and its corresponding parts are intact. Check the cords for any frays or snips. In addition, ensure the functionality of the clip.

For handheld heroes

  • Directionality. Some presenters prefer a handheld mic. If you are among them, remember that the typical PA system will operate with microphones that are unidirectional. What does this mean? Presenters working with handheld mics should speak into the front of the microphone; otherwise the device won’t pick up or amplify your voice.
  • Positioning. Keep your mouth one to three fingers’ width from the handheld mic. The closer your mouth is to the microphone, the more popping your audience will hear. (Try speaking diagonally across the mic, rather than directly into it, to ameliorate the plosives—those popping p’s and t’s.) Also, the farther away your mouth is from the mic, the lower your vocal volume.
  • Concentration. Delivering a presentation with a handheld microphone requires constant concentration. Whereas lavaliere lovers have the luxury of moving their arms around (within reason), a handheld hero must practice restraint. This doesn’t mean that gestures and communicative body language are out of the question. It just means that whatever movements you make should be small, precise and purposeful.

A version of this article originally appeared on the Ethos3 blog.

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