A couple of friends asked me to officiate their wedding last weekend. There are a lot of special things about being asked to perform this ceremony and this being a first for me, I worked to make it special. I wrote a ceremony unique to the couple and their families, I practiced diligently, and I arrived at the venue to rehearse with the wedding party. As I stood at the altar, preparing to make minor adjustments, someone handed me a handheld mic. I had practiced with both hands, and they were required for most of the ceremony. This was a setback.
Like being in front of any group of people, there are logistics, and the room setup is often unfamiliar. Something unexpected can throw even the best facilitator. Thinking through details like the microphone situation can make or break a presentation. Every facilitator should consider the following three microphone situations and how their presentation will adapt to each.
Or as I call it, the ideal mic situation. A lapel mic attaches to your collar and leaves your hands free to do what you practiced. This is ideal because you don’t have to fumble with anything extra, and your voice is still projected around the room without disruption.
Handheld mics are useful if you have a large room, a memorized script or teleprompter, and only the need for one of your hands. They work well for talks or lectures where you are on a stage, and interaction is limited. They do not work well if you have handouts, need to use materials, or to demonstrate anything.
Some rooms do not have a mic, and you have to play the cards you are dealt. If you know in advanced, work on projection and breath to make sure you can get your voice to the back of the room. Not having a mic is not ideal, and choosing not to have a mic should be saved for times when the other mics in the room absolutely will not work for you.
In the end, I opted to not use the handheld mic because there was no way to perform the ceremony with it. I tested my vocal rang by having members of the wedding party stand in various locations to make sure they could hear me, and I held the mic for the readers and couple when saying their vows. This had to be an educated decision and options needed to be weighed.
If you can find out in advanced what the microphone situation is, that is ideal. If you know you have a handheld mic, practice as though you are holding the mic. It will change the way you move and interact. If you don’t have a mic and do have a big room, work on projection techniques. In the end, people need to hear you; that is why they are there.
What room setup situation has changed your experience in a classroom? Share your stories and anything else you have in mind about this topic in the comments below.