Let’s jump into the shoes of the guest speaker. You are Molly, a female church member back from a mission trip to Uganda and asked to give a report of the experience. You are nervous. Enter the sound tech, who you have NEVER met, a few minutes before the service.
Tech: “Here’s your microphone. Clip it on your shirt.” [Tech walks away]
You are left holding the lapel mic and the wireless pack, now confused AND nervous.
The Right Way to Mic a Guest
I decided on this article after posting up a similar how-to video in the Behind the Mixer private discussion forum. The video, while good, focuses on work in the film industry and therefore has enough differences for me NOT to put it here and thus this article.
Let’s say you are still Molly – and if your name really IS Molly, then you’ve got it easy. Let’s play out the scenario in a much different way.
[Tech comes up to you ten minutes before the service.]
Tech: “Hi, I’m Chris Huff and I need to set you up with a microphone. How are you doing this morning?”
You: “A little nervous. I’ve never talked in front of this many people before.”
Tech: “I was told you’re speaking about your Uganda trip. What was the best part of the trip?”
(At this point, the tech is building a relationship with you and asking you about the event. They want you to know they’ve got your back and by you telling a story, you are relaxing a little bit, taking your mind off the idea of public speaking. Note they are asking for a good story, not “what was the scariest part” – would you really want to recall a scary time when you are already nervous?)
You: [tell the story.]
Tech: “That sounds like a great trip, I can’t wait to hear more. I need to set you up with a microphone and once I’ve done that, you won’t have to worry about doing anything with it, ok?”
Tech: “I have a little microphone that clips to the front of your blouse. It attaches to this cable and this little pack that can clip to your pants or to a pocket or wherever you find comfortable. This cable can either run outside your shirt or inside, it’s up to you. Hiding the cable gives a professional look.” (Note the use of the word “you” so they feel they have control.)
You: “Umm…how does the cable go inside my shirt?”
Tech: “That’s easy, you drop the cable down and put the end out. Then, you connect the wireless pack.”
You: “Ok, now where do I clip the microphone?”
Tech: “I’ll show you.”
[Tech drops their chin to their neck, places a fist below, and then puts their finger on the spot.]
[Tech hands you the lapel mic and cable so you can clip it on and run the cable.]
Tech: “If you’ll hand me the plug end of that cable, we’ll finish this up.”
[Tech plugs cable into the wireless pack with the power on and muted on the audio console.]
Tech: “Here is the pack, where would you like it?”
You: “I’ll just clip it to my pocket.”
Tech: “Perfect. You don’t need to worry about turning it on as I control all of that.”
[Tech has either locked the transmitter in the ON position or placed tape over the switch.]
Tech: “I look forward to hearing more about your trip.”
Their Needs, Your Actions
As a tech, we see miking a guest as part of our job; put the mic on the guest – done. What the guest needs from us is trust and confidence. They need to trust the microphone will work when they talk, that it will stay in place, and that everything will be OK. Call it a pep talk. Call it a confidence booster.
The Take Away
Miking a guest isn’t about turning in the “fastest miking time,” it’s about recognizing public speaking is the second-highest fear, just behind flying, and you have the opportunity to ministry to that person before they step on the stage.
Note: For those who saw the video, it talks about the tech setting up the microphone on the person. I’ve found that’s helpful when using an ear-worn microphone because it takes a bit of finesse. As for what to do with each gender, I leave that to you to decide. Most guys don’t mind if I drop the ear-worn mic’s cable down the back of their shirt but male or female, I always ask and let them decide.
The Next Step
Do you want to transition from lapel microphones to the ear-worn or head-worn styles? Check out this article:
Thought? Questions? Comments?