Monday, September 9, 2019

Tips to Manage a Microphone When You Speak

by Yvonne Ortega @YvonneOrtega1

After many laughs and nightmares with a mic, I now tell others that I can manage a microphone without losing my mind. If you and I understand the four types of mic, we can consider the microphone our friend most of the time.

The Podium Microphone
Initially, the microphone proved to be anything but my friend. When I spoke for an event in Roanoke, Virginia, the club had a podium in place. As a petite and vertically challenged woman, I stood before the podium, and it swallowed me. I couldn’t see the audience. If I couldn’t see them, they couldn’t see me either. I asked for a step stool. 

The kitchen staff offered their best solution: two rectangular stacking milk crates. I looked at those milk crates and froze. I couldn’t move, or I would tumble and roll off the stage. One of the kitchen staff members assured me the crates were sturdy, but that didn’t ease my concern. Throughout my presentation, I stood locked in place out of fear of falling. 

Now when I travel by car, I take a large step stool with me in case I need it. If someone promises to take one, the person might forget or at the last minute, not be able to attend. 

The Wired Handheld Microphone 
My next adventure with a microphone took place at a double, early-bird session at the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference. I tripped over the cord on the microphone. I laughed at myself and said, “My name is not Grace.” The audience laughed with me.

We laughed harder when I tripped over the cord a second time. Laughter kept me from losing my mind at that event, but I couldn’t claim that the microphone and I were friends yet. 

A handheld microphone can be unidirectional or omnidirectional. If it is unidirectional, you must speak directly into it. If you turn your head and continue to talk, the audience will not hear you. 

If the handheld mic is omnidirectional, the audience can hear you if you turn right or left and keep speaking. One feature I don’t like is that the omni picks up sound from all directions, even behind me. 

The Lavalier Microphone
Before one of my TV interviews on Niteline in South Carolina, the technical crew placed a lavalier mic on me and pinned it to the lapel of my jacket. Since I would sit in place and not have wires to trip over, I sighed with relief.

The host said, “I understand the surgeon told you on the phone that the tumor was malignant. How did you react?”

“My heart was pounding so hard I thought it would burst right out of my chest.” As I said that, I tapped my heart, and that lavalier mic picked up the sound. The volume made it sound like my heart was bursting out of my chest. Now I know better, and you can learn from me. 

The Headset Microphone
When I spoke at a Women’s Conference in Virginia, the event planner offered me the pastor’s headset microphone. He was more than 6 feet tall and a former football and basketball player — a contrast to my height and size. My early arrival at the event allowed me time to adjust that headset mic to fit as comfortably as possible.

I’ve learned to ask questions about the type of microphone the event planner may have me use. I also ask for pictures of the stage, and where they want me to stand. You can also seek information and pictures ahead of time to manage a microphone and keep you from losing your mind.

If possible, go to a sound shop and try the different types of microphone. The purchase of one may be prohibitive, but at least you’ll have a chance to compare them and learn how to adjust them. You may find a secondhand mic in excellent condition at a bargain price. And yet, because of the venue set up, the event planner may want you to use their microphone. 

In closing, the four types of microphone are:
  • The podium mic
  • The wired handheld mic
  • The lavalier
  • The headset mic

You and I can’t control the setup when the conference staff wants to record the sessions or have us use their equipment. However, we can have a positive attitude, do our best, and pray. 

Tips to Manage a Microphone When You Speak - @YvonneOrtega1 on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

All speakers need to know about using 4 common types of microphones from @YvonneOrtega1 on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

Yvonne Ortega walks with a small footprint but leaves a giant imprint in people’s lives. This power-packed package is a professional speaker and the author of the Moving from Broken to Beautiful® Series through cancer, divorce, forgiveness, and loss. Learn more at

Yvonne speaks with honesty and humor as she shares her life and struggles through presentations that empower women to find peace, power, and purpose through God’s Word. 

Yvonne’s background as a licensed professional counselor brings a unique perspective into the heart of women. She’s a speaking and writing coach and the owner of Moving from Broken to Beautiful®, LLC. She belongs to the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, the Christian Authors Network, the National Speakers Association, and Toastmasters International.

She celebrates life at the beach, where she walks, builds sand castles, blows bubbles, and dances. 


  1. Great tips Ms. Yvonne. Am pleased to know I'm not the only one to trip on a mic cord. Who knew them rascals like to wrap themselves around your legs? God's blessings ma'am.

  2. Thanks Yvonne for pointing out important things far off the radar! :)

  3. Thank you, Yvonne, I needed to be reminded about the unidirectional or omnidirectional features.

    1. You're welcome quietspirit. Yes, the unidirectional and the omnidirection are not one and the same mic.

  4. Thank you, J.D. Yes, those rascals are dangerous.
    God's blessings to you, too.