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The average speech lasts for fifteen minutes. Though that can seem like a minuscule amount of time in the grand scheme of things, it can also feel like an eternity if you don’t know how to properly hold your microphone.

Key takeaways

  1. Know what kind of microphone you will be using
  2. Don’t hide behind your mic (even if you’re nervous!)
  3. Hold your handheld mic the right distance from your mouth
  4. Don’t forget to test your mic before you begin

Even something as seemingly simple as talking into a mic can seem overwhelming when it comes time to step into the spotlight. You never know how nerve-wracking public speaking can be until you’re in front of a sea of expectant faces, and you don’t want to be caught holding the microphone like an amateur. That’s an easy way to start your act off on the wrong foot!

Keep reading, and I’ll share four tips that you need to know when it comes to handling a mic before stepping on stage.

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#1. Know what kind of microphone you will be using

Speaking in front of a crowd is anything but an easy task. Especially if you suffer from stage fright, it can be hard to find the courage to take on public speaking!

You deserve to shine in the spotlight. From the moment you make your introductions to the second the audience applauds, you’re the one in control.

However, there are a few mistakes that anyone can fall victim to when they’re on stage. As a corporate emcee with over twenty years of experience, I’ve seen first-hand how some other speakers mess up with the simple aspects of public speaking.

And, most often, one of those mistakes is how they hold their microphone.

Though this can sound trivial at first, there’s more that goes into being a keynote speaker than you may realize. If you’re not thinking about how to hold a microphone effectively, you’re bound to make a fool of yourself on stage.

The first step to holding the microphone correctly is knowing what kind of microphone you have.

a dual microphone set up at an event directional microphones vocal mic closer headset mic ice cream cone sound engineer lapel mic talk person audio speaking head mouth tips volume point microphone microphones microphoneHandheld microphones versus hands-free mics

Not all mics are created equally. And sometimes, you might not even need to actually hold your mic.

If you have a handheld microphone, you’ll need to consider things like hand placement, while you’ll need to focus more on mic position if you have a podium or a mic stand.

If you’ll be using a wearable microphone, be sure not to wear jewelry that can touch the mic. If you have long hair, it’s also a good idea to keep it away from the mic.

The resulting jingle or excess noise will likely be nothing less than obnoxious for your audience as you give your speech.

If you will be using a hands-free mic, be sure to understand the role of hand gestures in your act. This can help you feel more at ease in front of your audience.

#2. Don’t hide behind your mic (even if you’re nervous!)

There’s a delicate balance between holding the microphone too close to your face and too far away. Though it can be hard to find this harmony, I have a few tips that will really help you out.

It’s common for amateur emcees or newbies to subconsciously hide their faces behind the microphone.

Essentially if you’re feeling a little nervous, it’s natural to want to protect your face.

a woman speaking to an audience with a handheld mic hand held microphone types presentation skills speak loudspeakers helpful amplified proximity effect speak speech speaking stand talk microphone microphones microphoneYour entire face should always be visible

You need to be sure that your audience can see and interact with your facial expressions, as this type of non-verbal communication is a major component of any presentation or speech.

If you’ll be using a handheld microphone, make sure that your face is clearly visible the whole time you’re holding the mic. You’ll maybe need to practice your speech beforehand with a mic, and you’ll also likely need to consistently remind yourself of this during your time on stage.

Position the mic so that it is vertical and perhaps only blocks your chin at times.

If you’re speaking behind a podium, ensure that the mic is positioned correctly. If you’re shorter, be sure to adjust the position downward, and vice versa if you’re on the taller end.

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#3. Hold your handheld mic the right distance from your mouth

Though you need to hold the microphone far enough away from your face, you can’t hold it too far away. After all, it needs to be able to pick up on your voice!

The distance between your mouth and the microphone will be the main determining factor in how loud your voice is. Obviously, the farther away, the fainter you will sound, and vice versa if you hold it closer.

However, you need to know that not all mics will sound the same. Each microphone amplifies your voice in a different way and likely has different settings that can be adjusted.

So, don’t forget to adjust any settings on your mic beforehand and figure out the optimal position and distance between your mouth and the mic.

a man holding his hands up in front of a large crowd audible range volume point happen singing excellent post good posture visual representation mouth mouth speech microphone speaking microphones microphoneAs a general rule of thumb, it’s usually better for your voice to be on the louder side. After all, you want your audience to be able to hear you!

Be careful not to hold it too close, though. This can result in popping sounds that can be disruptive. Though this isn’t the end of the world, it can be a little distracting to your audience.

#4. Don’t forget to test your mic before you begin

Here’s a tip that will save you in the long run. Don’t forget to test your mic before the show starts. That way, you can know for sure how your voice will interact with the microphone.

There’s nothing worse than opening your act with the phrase, “Can everyone hear me okay?” That instantly kills any excitement or intrigue for the event.

Instead, you should always arrive early to the event so that you have time to test the sound system, talk with the sound technician, and conduct a sound check. This will also let you get familiar with your new microphone before the function kicks off.

a man standing in lights holding a microphone feedback speaker audio amplify shure point practice presentation head speaker mouth feedback held correctly speaking speaking voice hear microphone microphone lapel micGet familiar with your setting

Before any event, I make sure I am 100% comfortable with the stage, setting, and mic I’ll be using. That’s what any great master of ceremonies does!

If you have a wireless microphone or a podium mic, this time is also a perfect opportunity to set up the perfect spot.

For a handheld microphone, you can experiment with mic position and sound quality so that you can be set up for a flawless delivery when the conference, meeting, or event starts!

Wrapping up

Knowing how to properly hold and use your microphone is essential if you want your time in front of the audience to be memorable and entertaining. You deserve to walk away feeling proud and confident in your performance, and your audience deserves to be truly wowed!

With these tips and tricks in mind, there’s no reason why you won’t be able to master the art of holding a mic. I’ve got your back!

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Adam Christing has been called “The Tom Brady of emcees.” He has hosted more than 1,000 company meetings, special events, gala celebrations, and more. He is the author of several books and founder of For more event tips, follow Adam Christing on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and YouTube.