PSU Insight

Effective Microphone Usage

Should You Use a Microphone?

There are many reasons to use a microphone. The obvious one is so that people can hear you, or hear you better. In a similar vein, using a mic reduces wear and tear on your voice ― always a good thing. Or if your presentation is being recorded, using a mic will greatly improve the audio portion of the recording. So the question really isn't "should I use a microphone?", but rather "is there any reason why I shouldn't use a mic?" If you don't have a good reason for not using a mic, it's best to use it.

Many people have strange reactions to microphones. Some people maintain that they don't need a microphone ― "I'm sure people can hear me!" (It's sort of a macho thing.) Others regard the microphone with nervousness, if not outright fear.

But the other extreme is just as bad. It's wishful thinking to hope that a microphone will automatically cure all your speaking problems. It won't. Look at it this way ― a microphone is an amplifier. (I'm speaking here in terms of function, not technically or electronically.) If your voice is clear and understandable, your voice using a microphone will still be clear and understandable... only louder.

But if your voice is muddled, if your words can't be clearly understood, or if you speak in a monotone or too rapidly, then those mistakes will themselves be amplified. This is not good.

So if people have a hard time understanding you when you're talking with them face-to-face, then a microphone won't make it better. (It might make it worse.) If you have a problem speaking clearly and distinctly, or if your voice is too soft to be easily heard, then you need to address those problems long before you get ready to give your presentation. A microphone won't help.

If you're going to use a microphone, of course you want to use it effectively. So the next sessions will explore that topic — effective microphone usage.