Monday, May 17, 2010

Public Speaking: Which Type of Microphone Should I Use?

Public speaking often requires the speaker to use a microphone. The type of microphone you use is dictated by the venue of your event, the purpose of your presentation and the size of your audience. There are three types of microphones: shotgun, handheld and lavaliere. You may be wondering which works best when you are recording a speaker standing a long distance from you. Which should you use when you are speaking in front of a large crowd? Which type is most effective when your are recording several short public speaking videos to post on YouTube? Each type of microphone is described below, along with tips on when to use them.

Shotgun microphone
A shotgun microphone is a microphone at the end of a long tube. You will often see them used on television news programs to capture sound from a distance. When you point the shotgun mic in a direction, it picks up sound only from that area. It is good for recording very crisp audio when the speaker is far away from the microphone. It is not good for recording two people sitting at a table unless the mic is suspended above the table where it can pick up both voices.

Handheld microphone
The handheld microphone works in two directions, picking up sound from the north and south sides of the microphone. It’s a nice microphone for speakers because it gives you something to do with your hands as you present your public speaking program. In addition, you can hand it off to another speaker when team teaching. You can also hold it in front of a member of the audience so the rest of the audience can hear the person respond to your questions or comments. Another advantage of the handheld microphone is that when you hold it between two people having a conversation, it will pick up both voices.

The lavaliere is a wireless microphone that clips onto your clothing. To obtain good sound quality, it has to be fairly close to the speaker’s mouth. The lav has a battery pack with an antenna and a small cable running from the battery pack to the microphone. The cable is usually hidden beneath the speaker’s clothing. The antenna sends a signal to the receiver, which is plugged into the microphone jack on your camera. You can wear it behind you, on your belt or on your pocket. You can even carry it, though most speakers like to be hands-free and would rather clip it onto their clothing so they can move around the room.

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