One of the most popular Videos we have ever posted on this site. Praised by performers around the world. 7 Great Tips on using a microphone. What you MUST always do and what you should NEVER do!
It’s only 7 minutes long and I guarantee you will learn at least one great idea even if you are a Pro at using a microphone already!
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One of the most popular Videos we have ever posted on this site. Praised by performers around the world. 7 Great Tips on using a microphone. What you MUST always do and what you should NEVER do!
The Secret Niche within the Professional Speaking Industry
They Don’t Want You to Know About
The World of the Professional Speaker or Motivational Speaker, is huge, potentially lucrative and very enticing!
No wonder thousands of professional speaking hopefuls jump in each year, joining speakers networks, clubs and associations, buying training, reading books, hiring coaches and then setting off to develop their business.
This might be you!
Unfortunately, there are not many statistics on how many of these Professional Speakers hopefuls make a decent living or in fact get many paid speaking assignments before they give up on their dream.
What I also find fascinating, is that when most people hear the words Professional Speaker, they normally imagine a picture of a dynamic keynote presenter, opening and closing conferences with a powerful feature presentation, changing lives and selling thousands of dollars of merchandising at the back of the room. Perhaps this is also the vision of many Professional Speaker hopefuls when they set out on their journey.
In reality however, the professional speaking industry is a house of many rooms. There are many different ways to make a good living and to fill your diary with engagements.
Keynote Speaking is just one niche among many and in a lot of ways the most difficult nut to crack.
There are also –
Training Speakers, Breakout Speakers, Running Workshops , Facilitation, Infotainment, After Dinner Speaking specialists, Product Demonstrators, Trade Show Experts, Interviewers, Hoax Speakers , Humorists, Writers and more.
And of course there is my favourite niche… the world of the MC or Master of Ceremony.
In fact, some of the busiest and most solidly booked professional speakers around the world are MC’s.
Where do MC’s Work?
You’ll find MC’s –
Working at – Corporate Events like Conferences, Conventions, Seminars, Summits and Expos.
Working at – Sporting Events, Fashion Events, Consumer Events and Weddings
Working at – Social, Association, Community and Government Events
You see, one of the great advantages is they can easily, and often do, get booked year after year by the same clients. I personally have been booked for 10 consecutive years with one company to do multiple events for them each year. I have several colleagues who have done 15 – 20 years with the same group! There are clients who will even move the date of their event so that they can use a particular MC who knows them, their culture and their aims.
And yet these people, these busy MC’s are often not talked about or perhaps even held in the same regard as the fabled Keynote Speaker.
I call it the BV Theory, named after Backing Vocal singers.
I have many friends in the Entertainment industry, in all different fields including musicians and singers. Several of them are multi award winners and house hold names with the public. But I also know a bunch of highly talented people who just didn’t get anywhere in that tough business.
But some of the busiest and most in demand musicians around the world are the Session players and Backing Vocal singers. And they are largely unknown. Sure, they’ll get a mention on the CD notes, (if there is such a thing anymore) and perhaps a mention if it’s a live show. But these musicians are in high demand and very well paid. Just like MC’s.
And there are parallel stories in many other niches – the Art World, the Acting World, the Dance World.
Another great thing about MC work, is that it is a relatively easy niche Market to get into!
There are a number of strategies to get started and to get work that are outlined on our website and even a downloadable proven MC RoadMap that you can follow.
There are also many distinct venues or markets that are crying out for MC’s. We list nearly 50 in this Article. Pick a few and dominate them either on a Local, City, State or National level.
Or International level. I’ve been booked, as an MC, at events in Hawaii, Cambodia, Hong Kong, South Africa, New Zealand and of course all over Australia where I live.
So, as you can see the market for MC’s is huge and in many way only limited by your imagination and drive.
Many people also find that doing corporate MC work allows them to then break into the world of Keynote speaking after they have established a name for themselves and developed a client list.
Many Professional Speakers find that adding MC work to their offerings allows them to charge more, meet new clients and gives a steadier cash flow.
I know you will find plenty of resources here on the site to help you on your journey.
Please check out our Bestselling book The Expert MC Toolkit & Resource Manual
Important Reminders for Professional Speakers
For those of you who are already Professional Speakers and thinking about getting into MC work as well please read these extra notes.
# The Client is King
Or Queen. You must remember that you are there to help the Client achieve THEIR goals for the event. This might be more than just keeping it running to time.
Reinforcing messages, dealing with disruptive attendees, running Panel Sessions, Interviewing Speakers & VIP’s, Networking events etc. These are things Professional Speakers are well suited to doing anyway, it just needs a slight pivot in your thinking and approach.
# Your Job is Broader than you imagine
As well as the things mentioned above, you might need to liaise with the Audio Visual Team, help speakers with their microphones, keep an eye on the seating and room temperature, calm nervous speakers, inform the Banquet staff about when you are breaking for lunch and if you are running early or late etc. These things all need to be done and they probably won’t be on your To Do list.
# You are taking a back seat.
And often all those little things you do, won’t be noticed by the attendees. Great MC’s put the Client and the Event first. Sure, you can insert a bit of your own character, content and personality into the running of the event, but always think about the big picture.
# The MC Business is a huge and profitable niche within Professional Speaking.
# There are clear pathways to become a brilliant MC and to build a business.
# It is possible for Keynote Speakers to become MC’s.
# It is possible for MC’s to become Keynote Speakers.
Are you a Toastmaster?
The global Toastmasters International organisation has helped millions of people sharpen their communication skills, boost their confidence and business skills and make lifelong connections in business and the community.
If you are already a Toastmaster you might want to skip to the last section of this article where we show you HOW our resources can help you in your Toastmasters journey.
But if you are thinking about joining or don’t know anything about the organisation, let us first look at WHAT it is and WHY you should consider joining.
Please note these are my personal views only. I’m not a representative of the Organisation in any official capacity. In fact if you read right through this article, I’ll even explain a couple of the downsides of being a Toastmaster!
What is Toastmasters?
Toastmasters International is an international non-profit organisation dedicated to helping people with their Public Speaking and Leadership skills.
Though founded and based in the United States it has clubs and members all over the world. Their website currently shows over 350,000 members, 16,800 clubs in 143 different countries. Those are significant numbers!
Most clubs are quite small around 20 members or so and meet on a regular basis. Some meet weekly, others monthly or twice a month. Each club is slightly different, with a different feel & demographics. So don’t feel obligated to join the first one you visit or the closest one to you. People can visit a club as a guest at no charge, so try out a few. Once you decide to join, I think the fee is still around $100 per year.
What happens at a Toastmasters meeting?
A Toastmasters meeting usually runs for 1 hour (though some are longer) and are quite structured. People are assigned different roles at the meeting and a couple of people give prepared speeches. There are also impromptu Table Topics for people to give impromptu speeches. Feedback and Evaluations are shared in this group environment so everyone learns from the process.
Parallel to the meetings, Toastmasters provide many educational opportunities both via printed material, mentoring and online training.
Why should you become a Toastmaster?
There are many benefits to becoming a Toastmaster and everyone who joins probably has a different reason for doing so.
Obviously, you will improve your Public Speaking. Both in formal speeches and in impromptu “Think on your Feet” situations.
Leadership skills are also taught and practised. You take roles at every meeting and learn as you go. There is a proven pathway to take on more and more Leadership and mentoring roles
Your Personal Growth is guaranteed. The safe yet challenging environment allows people to shine and grow to their full potential
Networking – A huge part of the process is making strong connections with people in your community and business field.
You will improve your Writing – Both for your speeches and for vital written communications.
Your Self Confidence & Self Awareness will become stronger.
You’ll learn how to Plan, Manage Projects, Resolve Conflicts, run Interviews and be interviewed.
Above all you can learn and practice in a safe and supportive environment.
As you can see all these skills are transferable to the workplace and life in general and the potential for people who take full advantage of these opportunities is immense.
Are there any Downsides to being a Toastmaster?
OK, I’m an MC and I’ve watched literally thousands of people speak on stage at events all over the world. It’s my job. I study speakers.
I can usually tell within moments if a Speaker has done Toastmaster training!
Toastmasters International has a very structured approach to everything they do. Why, because it works. The training, the meetings, the business skills etc. But it also shows in the style of speaking.
Now, I’m not saying this is a bad thing, you might be comfortable with that, but it does show and I think you should be aware of this.
The other misconception I think people have is that Toastmasters will turn them into a Professional Speaker. No. It will help you become a better speaker but it will not make you a Professional Speaker. This is a completely different thing. Sure, there are speakers who have transitioned from Toastmasters into the world of professional speaking, be it as a Keynote Speaker or like I am, a full time Corporate MC. But that requires a different set of strategies and skills.
If you are interested in learning to be a Professional Speaker, look for members organisations of the Global Speakers Federation. That’s the National Speakers Association in the USA, Professional Speakers in Australia etc. GlobalSpeakersFederation.net
If you are interested in becoming a better MC, then you are in the right place. Read On!
How can ExpertMC help you in your Toastmaster journey?
Many toastmasters from around the world have already discovered the multiple benefits of our bestselling book The Expert MC – Toolkit and Resource Manual.
If you are still actively learning, participating or competing, it’s a fantastic source of quotes, jokes, intros, thank you’s and more. Beef up your Inspirational Openers, your Table Topics, Introductions and Thank you’s with our pages and pages of field tested material. You’ll be seen as a master Ranconteur or JokeMaster.
And if you are considering using your skills to actually do this to earn money, part time or full time… you’ve hit the jackpot. Great MC’s / Masters of Ceremony / Corporate Hosts / Anchors are in huge demand world wide. Trained Toastmasters are ideally suited to make the transition.
In this ground breaking book, we’ve picked the brains of 6 professional MC’s, we twisted their arms and encouraged them to spill the beans on what it’s really like to use speaking and presentation skills in the real world. They share inside secrets on dealing with clients, with AV Teams and Venue staff. You’ll learn extra secrets on getting a crowd to be quiet, to take action, how to deliver a client’s message and get guaranteed laughs from any audience
The ExpertMC Toolkit and Resource Manual was the private note book of master MC Timothy Hyde. Lines Quotes, Sayings, Activities and more
His work as an MC has taken him all over the world for the last 25 years . MC Assignments in Hong Kong multiple times, South Africa, New Zealand multiple times, Hawaii, Cambodia and every Capital City and luxury resort in Australia.
He holds nothing back in the book and you are guaranteed to learn from his insights and strategies!
To help you along in your Toastmaster journey or to perhaps start a new one as a Corporate MC, I urge you to check out the full details via this link HERE.
If you are working as an MC at any event, you are going to have to use a microphone, unless it’s to the smallest of audiences. And unless you are providing the sound system yourself, you are going to be provided with a range of different types of microphones and at many different quality levels.
Understanding the different microphone types that you might encounter, the pros and cons of each and how to use them to your advantage is an essential skill for any MC who wants to be successful. Additionally, in your role as MC you should be helping and providing advice to your presenters, VIP’s and Special Guests who may or may not be experienced in using them. Remember, your role is much broader than just making announcements and introducing speakers.
In this extensive article we cover –
# The different types of Microphone you might encounter
# The pros and cons of each type and Essential Tips on how to use them
# Our preferred Microphone and why you should request it
# Why you should consider purchasing your own microphone
# Our current recommendations on what Microphone to Buy (Updated December 2019)
It’s important to remember that a microphone is not just a tool to aid in amplifying your voice. A good microphone and good microphone technique will help you convey your personality, add emotion, control, suspense, surprise and more!
As you will read in more depth later in the article, I’m a big fan of the handheld wireless microphone for MC’s. Sure, you can go with a sturdy lectern, a nice lapel microphone or headset, but nothing beats the sound quality that can be produced with a handheld. Watch a good singer and hear the range of sound that can be produced. You can both whisper and shout to great effect.
It’s also a symbol, a “Wand of Power” or “Talking Stick”. People see it and know that YOU are in charge. You can use it also to emphasise things you say, to point and more.
It can also encourage applause and affirmations from the audience just by holding it out at them, things you can’t do with a headset, lapel or lectern microphone.
We will give you some tips and techniques for getting the most out of every microphone.
Hopefully by the end we might even convince you to take the extra step of buying your own and taking it with you to assignments. We give you some great recommendations and microphone reviews towards the end of the article.
Sound Check – Testing 1, 2, 3
Let’s start with some general microphone tips.
Always check any microphone that has been provided to you before every assignment!
Never tap the Microphone to see if it’s on or blow into it! While most microphones are fairly robust, delicate microphones can be damaged in this way, so it’s good practice to never do it.
Snapping your fingers a few inches away or a gentle scratch with a finger nail across the top is much better.
The sound person has probably checked it works, but as you test it out as well, from the stage, they can make fine adjustments at the sound desk, something they can’t really do by themselves.
As you check the sound, speak at normal level, then loudly and then softly.
Move around the stage area and see if there are any feedback issues. Feedback is the high squealing noise that happens if the microphone gets in front of or too close to a speaker box. If there is any chance that you or one of your presenters will move off the stage at any time with the microphone, be sure to check this.
Learn how it turns on and off. You will often have a speaker or VIP inadvertently turn a microphone off. You should be able to quickly remedy this rather than waiting for the sound guy to arrive on stage to fix it.
I usually also ask if there are fresh batteries in the
microphone. If your client is paying for the hire of a sound system, they
should provide a set of fresh batteries. Remember you are the eyes and ears of your
I’ll provide some more tips for each as we look at the different microphone types.
Types of Microphones
There are several different types of microphones that you may have to use at different assignments. I’ve outlined the main types here plus some tips on how to use each and how to avoid some of the mistakes a lot of people make.
These are directly attached to a lectern. Usually one or two sensitive microphones on short flexible arms. In some cases it may just be a ordinary microphone on a boom stand positioned over the lectern.
When you do your sound check, adjust the height so the microphones are about the same height as your mouth.
As mentioned these are sensitive microphones. You don’t need to lean right into them. You will see this a lot with inexperienced speakers who think they need to get very close for them to work. Stand up straight and deliver your material. The sound person will adjust the level and you will look a lot more confident and professional.
You will also see tall or short speakers sometimes adjust the height of the microphones. If you know the speaker is very tall, move them up slightly yourself as they are coming to the lectern. This is a much better than them fiddling about with the arms. Likewise with very short presenters, lower the height. Then after their presentation put them back into the normal position. It’s good to test how easily they move when you do the sound check, though sound people as a rule don’t like you fiddling with them.
If you are able to, I also talk to every presenter before the event and if we have time, show them the set up on stage. Lectern, microphone, monitor, time keeping device etc. Pass on any tips you have on using the specific microphones at this point.
Another thing to watch for with Lectern microphones is to not brush them with your Run Sheet, papers or notes. The sensitive microphones will pick up that annoying noise much more than with a handheld.
Another tip with Lecterns for MC’s is .. Do Not leave your
Run Sheet, Introductions etc on the lectern when a speaker is presenting. They
will often gather up all the papers on the top when they finish and it’s very embarrassing
to get there and find your script or Agenda is gone.
Lapel Microphone / Lavaliere
The Lapel Microphone or Lavaliere is the preferred choice for many speakers who like to move around the stage and have their hands free. Like the headset microphone that we will discuss next, they have their advantages and disadvantages. I’ve had a many situations in the past where this was the only option of microphone provided so it’s good to know about them.
These are made up of three components.
The microphone, the transmitter and the receiver.
Note – you sometimes may get a Lapel Microphone that does not have a transmitter/receiver. It has a thin cable that runs to the sound system. These are normally for interviews, video etc, where the guest will not be moving around. Once again, you may be surprised to find it as the supplied microphone with a small sound system in a function room.
The microphone unit itself can be tiny and the quality level ranges widely. These can be very expensive delicate units designed for TV, Video and Filming. They can also be cheap and nasty.
If the sound person has provided this, they will have their preferred placement position for the microphone. They usually have a small alligator type clip for attachment to clothing.This will either be on a tie, or a suit lapel (hence the name Lapel Microphone.) If you are a female presenter it’s good to think about where the microphone can get clipped on.
The microphone is then attached with a thin cable to the transmitter unit. This transmits the signal from the microphone to the receiver which is normally at the sound desk/sound system. Most transmitters are small, about the size of a pack of cards. But they have to go somewhere.
Inside jacket pocket is a good choice for men or clipping it onto your belt. (These are often referred to as “belt packs.) Some female presenters don’t have the luxury of a jacket pocket or belt, so it’s worth thinking about this as well if you are intending to use one.
Once again, beware of brushing anything against the microphone. This includes your jacket, your run sheet etc. Think about if you need to reach into your pocket for anything and possibly adjust where it is placed.
Mobile phones can also be an issue. Some microphones pick up the tiny signal a phone makes periodically as it checks into the network. I always suggest they are turned off at presentation time.
The other point worth remembering is that once they are turned on they are often “live”. The sound guy might not have the channel down on his sound desk so any last minute trips to the toilet and backstage discussions about the CEO may be broadcast to the entire room. It’s better to assume you are “live,” rather than add to the large number of embarrassing stories out there.
The final part of the setup is the Receiver unit. This is patched directly into the sound desk or straight into the amplifier and receives the signal from your microphone via the transmitter pack in your pocket.
The Headset Microphone is similar in many ways to the wireless Lapel Microphone set up. The difference being that instead of a microphone itself being clipped on your jacket the microphone is held near your mouth at the end of a short wire arm. The arm is part of a lightweight headset that you wear on your head, the ends going over one or both ears.
Once again this is connected via a light wire down to the transmitter unit that you clip to your belt, that sends the signal to the receiver.
Being closer to your mouth these produce a much better sound than a lapel microphone and this is the reason they are used so widely in concerts and in musical theatre. There are a huge range of these microphones available.
Obviously with the distance between mouth and microphone being fixed, you can’t do some of the vocal effects that you can with a Hand Held. They are tricky also if you want to interview or ask questions of your guests or audience members.
They do take some experimenting to get the arm and microphone in the right place. They also do tend to move about a bit on your head being quite lightweight. Many people use adhesive tape to secure them and the wire inplace. If you are considering getting a set, I’ve always found the headset that clips over BOTH ears far more stable.
I’ve never owned a Headset Microphone but have been supplied one at quite a few events by the sound crew.
Working as the MC at Trade shows, Product Demonstrations, Road Shows & Gala Events may require you to use one.
Handheld Microphone – Wired
The beauty of a good handheld microphone is the quality of the sound and in many cases, the cost.
The downside of course, is the cable. If you are moving around the stage area, you need to watch what you are doing so you don’t get in a tangle. You also need to watch where the cables end up so that your guests and presenters don’t trip on them.
If you are working with a cabled microphone (sometimes called a Line Microphone) also resist the desire to fiddle with the cable. They can pick up noise or become disconnected.
At your sound check test how to adjust the microphone stand and get the microphone into and out of the clip.
You should get quite close to the microphone head when you talk, see our note about this in the next section. If there is a sound technician, also ask if you should be speaking directly into the microphone head or accross the head. There are different patterns of microphones pickup areas. Your sound person will be able to tell you and should be impressed that you asked.
Handheld Wireless Microphone
This is probably the most common microphone you may get to use. Unlike the Lapel or Headset microphone, there is no need for a transmitter unit in your pocket or on your belt. The transmitter is built into the barrel of the microphone itself but once again transmits it’s signal to a receiver at the sound desk.
The microphone head itself is often the same excellent one you would find on a wired microphone.
I’ve already explained some of the reasons why I prefer using a hand held wireless microphone. (Often also called a Radio Microphone)
Better sound quality, freedom to move about the stage and into the audience, ability to ask questions of people and hear their response etc.
They can also be much louder. If you have a noisy crowd, a sound technician can boost the volume of the sound much higher with a handheld than they can with a lectern or lapel microphone. This will help bring the crowd under control. I sometimes use a handheld to do this and then switch to the lectern when they are all focused and quiet.
Here are some tips on using a Handheld Wireless Microphone.
A common mistake with hand held microphones, both wireless and wired, is that people don’t get close enough to them.
The sound person can only do so much to boost the sound. I’ve seen many a crowd lose total interest in all the presentations because one speaker early on didn’t use the microphone well. As the MC, you can coach them before they start and if needed, be ready to prompt them during their presentation to hold the microphone a little closer.
A nice technique to get the right distance is this. Clench your fist and then extend the little finger and thumb. That’s the distance your mouth should be away from a microphone. Try it. It’s also a good way to quickly prompt a speaker into the right position.
Holding the microphone
Don’t grab the microphone with a tight grip wrapping your whole hand around it. A better and smarter way is to grip it with just your fingers. And further down the barrel rather than at the top near the head is better.
Lock the Elbow
Here’s another technique that you might want to master if you are moving about or turning from side to side addressing a large room. You can see it used by many Stand Up comedians. Once you have the microphone the correct distance from your face, move the elbow of the arm holding the microphone into the body. This locks the microphone in place even when you turn one way or another.
Watch out for excessive noise if your Microphone is on. Placing it on a table or desk can make a big clunk. There is also the danger of it getting moved when you are not there. Most sound crew will provide a spare microphone stand and clip, so that when you leave the stage you can clip it in there. Then you know exactly where it is when you need it again. At the Sound Check test to see if you can easily turn it off and on.
If you do have to pick it up and put it down a lot, ask them if they have a piece of foam you can put it on, or even just use a folded napkin.
Why you should bring your own Microphone.
Once you get into the swing of doing MC assignments you will quickly see that you will be provided with many different levels of microphone quality.
If you can provide better sound, you will do a better job. Do a better job and you get better testimonials, more recommendations and possible re-booking.
At smaller events, your client, the person who is organising the event and booking the function room or hall etc, will often be getting a “sound system” provided with that booking. Often these will be old, knocked about and really not up scratch. There may also not be a dedicated Audio Visual person there, just a manager who know how to set it up. If you can go back to your car and grab a quality microphone to plug into this system, this may really improve things.
Even at larger events where there might be an Audio Visual person, having your own gear might also ensure a better sound. Perhaps the client has not booked a wireless microphone and just assumes you will work from behind the lectern. While working from behind the lectern is fine in certain situations, (I do it a lot myself,) in other situations, being away from the lectern is much stronger.
Another common situation at events is the request to “just use the bands microphone.” While this sometimes can work out, it’s more often than not complicated. The band will be set up for them. There are stage monitors, instruments, effects boxes, set lists etc. The microphone itself may be specific to the vocal range and style of the singer and the AV person will have set the audio desk specifically for that person. Providing your own microphone can make things a whole lot easier.
Once you have invested in some gear you can also mention that in your information material. It makes you look far more professional and in many cases will help you push your fees up.
If you could only buy one microphone, for a first one I would buy this one. It’s a wired mike or line mike, meaning of course it does need a cable. But the first time you plug it in to replace a cheap supplied mike that has been dropped a hundred times you’ll be repaid for your small investment. I kept one in the car for many years and used it plenty of times at corporate and community events.
The Shure SM58
It’s a classic for a reason. It’s robust, great for stage use and has excellent sound and is relatively inexpensive. Yes, there are plenty of other options and many will argue better options, but you can’t go wrong with this choice.
Many artists use it and the frequency response is ideal for vocals. It also has a built in “pop filter” that will minimise some extraneous noises.
No battery or “phantom power” required. The standard version comes with XLR connections which are very common in the industry, so it will fit into a huge range of situations.
They are also very quiet microphones. Cheaper types tend to transmit a lot of extra noise, for instance from your hand or when you take the microphone into or out of the stand.
If you have to work with a cheap microphone and poor sound system, substituting this into the mix will make a big difference!
You will also find it is great for home recording use – Podcast, Video Message, Audio Books, Video Commentary etc. I have recorded many audio tracks and training’s with mine.
There are also Wireless Versions of the Shure SM58 Microphone but my recommendation for a Wireless Microphone is different. See below.
Here’s a link to Amazon to check out current pricing on the great Shure SM58
Alternative – If you have slightly more to spend, the Beta 58 A has a better or wider pickup area. Without getting into the technical details, it’s a better microphone for people who don’t really know how to use a microphone properly, like guests or audience members.
Wireless Handheld Microphone
This is another classic.
Sennheiser are probably now more well known for their range of great Headphones but they have been making Microphones for many years and are well respected in the industry.
I bought one many years ago. It was actually the second wireless or radio microphone I invested in. The first was a Shure Model but I had a few issues with that. I thought the Receiver unit was a bit flimsy and the range of frequencies it could use a bit limited.
[This is important. For a few years I worked at the Sydney Royal Easter Show. I was the MC on one of the big stages and in fact produced the entertainment program there for a couple of years. There were many people using Wireless Microphones around the site, so interference was a problem. You can also run into this at large hotel venues. There might be several functions on at the same time, each using wireless microphones for their MC, speeches and entertainers.]
I bought the Sennheiser in a package deal many years ago and it has never let me down. The receiver is small and robust and the microphone itself is fantastic.
You can also add on a Lavalier Microphone or Headset Microphone by also buying a belt pack transmitter and the appropriate microphone you want. You can use the receiver you already have or if the funds permit you can buy a package deal from the start often saving quite a lot. This makes it perfect little system that you could use in a multitude of venues and situations. E.g. Product Demonstrations, Fashion Parades, Auctions etc.
Once again having a Radio Microphone that you will bring to the event makes you look much more professional and helps you justify your fee. It also can save your client money! Let me explain.
Audio Visual companies, especially those working at corporate events, charge per piece of equipment that is booked. And they charge a lot for Radio or Wireless Microphones. If your client knows that you are bringing one, they may not need to book one, or can book one less. Note – I always get the client to inform the AV Team that you are bringing one and that they are to patch it into the system. This is important. If you just rock up and ask them to patch it in they will often come up with several reasons that they can’t. “We are not allowed, we don’t have a spare channel, it’s not tested etc.” Having had the client inform them that it must happen ensures a smooth ride.
[This is always a good strategy to remember. If you ever have a sound crew or a venue staff person hassle you about anything, tell them to talk to the client rather than you. You are both working for the client, you are not working for the AV team or the venue. This often solves the problem as they don’t want to hassle the client.
We once got told by a Hotel Manager to turn down the sound on the Trivia Show that we were running or he would be forced to shut us down. I told him he was talking to the wrong person and to speak to the client who was paying vast sums of money for the event. Of course he didn’t do that. Problem solved.]
If you are buying any Wireless microphone, it’s a good idea to check out what Radio Frequencies it uses and also what frequencies are allowed to be used in your country. Most countries block the use of various bands of frequencies for – emergency services, commercial radio etc. If you buy something online from a different country it may not be a “fit” for yours. Do some research, see what is being sold in shops and online in your country and you should be good to then purchase anywhere.
Here’s a link to Amazon to check out current pricing on the Sennheiser EW135
There is also the excellent EW 100 range that can be slightly cheaper. Details here EW100
Most people I talk to in the Audio Industry say the best headsets for Speakers and MC’s are the Countryman series. I agree. As noted previously get the version that clips on both ears, they are much more stable.
Also, make sure you get a unit that is compatible with your transmitter. Countryman make a microphone for Sennheiser and a different one for Shure models.
Countryman H6 Check it out on Amazon here.
If you needed a Lapel Microphone my best suggestion in the Sennheiser EW 122 P . I strongly suggest getting the Wireless Handheld set first and then if you need to expand get a Lapel or Headset and Transmitter that matches the Receiver you already have.
Here’s a link to Amazon EW 122P
If you have the budget for it Sennheiser have a range just for presenters. It’s called Sennheiser Speechline and looks amazing.
Two Cheaper Options
Note – you can get cheaper and cheaper wireless microphones. A lot of them are developed for Karaoke Systems. However you do get what you pay for. Saving up for a good one is highly advised.
As mentioned I have had great experiences with those two microphones mentioned at the start, the Shure and the Sennheiser, but there are several other options. Asking around my audio friends, they suggested these are also worth looking at if you are on a budget.
Audio-Technica System 10 ATW-1102 A bit cheaper than the Sennheiser Handheld, but they are a good brand. Details Here
Innopow WM 333 OK, these are budget microphones, but they work quite well from what I’ve heard.
Another Secret in the Master of Ceremonies Toolkit.
The element of surprise is a great tool the working Event Host or MC can use at any moment in an assignment. It really helps your audience stay focussed and to keep the energy high.
This is especially true with longer assignments, where the audience can start to get complacent about what the Event Host is doing or saying. Once their attention starts to slip, it’s great to be able to surprise them.
Here is a collection of proven techniques that you can use to add the element of surprise to your work as an Event Host.
Don’t wear the same thing all day!
Change your Jacket or Tie. Perhaps wear a hat at some point if appropriate.
Or expand that idea and wear a Costume!
I have an MC friend who has a 1930’s Golfing outfit that he often wears on the second day of a conference, especially if he is at a conference centre on a golf course.
Another busy MC here in Australia, known as The Doctor, has a huge selection of bright outfits to surprise his regular clients and a trademark hat and stethoscope to help with his branding.
One of my regular clients took me to Hawaii for an event where I surprised them with a Zoot Suit on the night out on the Battleship Missouri and a Gangster outfit on an another night. (Here I am at the famous Royal Hawaiian.)
One tip however if you do intend to wear a costume is this. If possible establish yourself as the MC first. Wear appropriate clothing for the first day or first segment, then change. This seems a better way to do it.
Change the Rhythm
After a few times introducing speakers or different acts change things up a bit!
Surprise them by coming out of the audience rather than from
the side of stage.
Or use the “Voice of God” backstage announcement.
Or pre-rerecord a video announcement.
Add a Prop
At my last assignment the last speaker of a very long day was a Forensic Accountant. He knew he had a hard time slot. He walked out confidently with a shopping bag and opened with … “Most people think I mainly use this” pulling out a large calculator. “But actually my most useful tool is this .. “ pulling out and putting on a construction workers Hard Hat.
It got a laugh and certainly everyone’s attention. But it also reinforced one of the themes of his presentation, that he had to get “stuck in” at the company he was investigating and often getting his hands dirty.
Have a think how you can use a prop that “fits” the message or theme of the event or the topic of the next speaker.
Side Note – Did you also see how he used one of the Opening Words ideas we talk about in this article? Bang, straight into it, rather than waffling on about how great it was to be there etc. See the Patricia Fripp examples in that article.
More Props – I sometimes use a sequence of different bells and hooters that become bigger and bigger. It’s a type of “running gag” more of which we will discus later.
Show off Your Skill
As you probably know I had a career as a Magician before becoming a full time MC. So I’m always ready to add some Magic if it helps the event. By this I mean I don’t do a full show, but will do short bits here and there if I need to fill in time or make a point.
I also can Juggle quite well, so that is also an option. What can you do?
Singing / Karaoke
The very accomplished Speaker and MC from the USA, Dan Thurmon, is a great gymnast. I’ve seen him do handsprings across the stage and if the lectern is a strong one, he will often do a handstand on it! How’s that for surprise! But once again, the skill each time serves to reinforce the message.
Other MC’s are ready with a song or to lead a session of Karaoke. It’s not to hard to have something set up with the AV people.
Funny Videos – You Tube
Another thing you can have set up with the AV Team are some
funny YouTube Videos. Just a few minutes worth. I’ve done this on a long day,
after lunch or after afternoon tea.
It’s even better if they relate somehow to the topic or theme of the event. E.G Teamwork, Focus, Preparation etc.
Hand Out on Table
I have a few boxes full of fun things I sometimes leave out on tables or on peoples seats. When they come back to the room after lunch they find the object. They start to expect something fun each time.
Fake Money, Funny Cards, Puzzles, Cartoons etc
If you have a copy of our best selling book The Expert MC Toolkit and Resource Manual (Details here) you will have plenty of extra things you can do.
Free Breakfast (page 9)
Seven Days (page 11)
Pig Test (page 13)
Powerpoint Slides / Parody Covers / News Headlines (page 20-21)
Instant Trivia (page 26)
Their name as an Acronym ( page 60)
You might also consider BWC , our Interactive routine. Sold as a separate PDF https://expertmc.com/bwc/
In Summary, the element of Surprise is a great tool for keeping peoples attention as you perform your role as Event Host. But it’s even more powerful when what you do relates to the theme of the event or the segment you are introducing.
Crucial Tips for MC’s
Awards Ceremonies are a very important events for everyone involved and the role of the MC at the event is crucial to it’s success.
Awards Ceremonies can range from glittering gala evenings with hundreds, if not thousands of guests, supported by state of the art Audio Visual Technology, including lights, video screens and teleprompters. Or it can be a small affair, a segment of a Conference dinner or the informal wrap up of a community day.
In all these events, the role of the MC is to be the steady hand at the helm. Adding energy when needed, keeping things moving along and keeping the audience involved. There are many “moving parts” and the Emcee really does need to be on their toes. And not just at the event. During the planning and organising, the MC can also make a big difference and provide valuable input.
I’ve done many nights like this over the last 20 years, in different parts of the world, including – New Zealand, South Africa, Cambodia, Australia and the USA. I’ve made a bunch of mistakes and have learnt a few tips and techniques that I will share with you now.
Get help Onstage
Try to have at least one helper onstage with you during an awards ceremony and preferably two. A committee member or organiser is best. They can hand you the certificates, trophies , ribbons etc, in the correct order, so you don’t need to leave the microphone to go and pick them up. Likewise, they can usher people on and off the stage, help people on the stairs, put them in the right position for photographs etc. These are all things you would normally do anyway, but having help is great and it keeps you “in charge” on the microphone. If the MC is moving off to pick up a prize or to show someone where to stand to get their photo taken, the audience will see this as an opportunity to talk to each other. Keep the focus!
Get Friendly with the Photographer
As mentioned above, your client wants great photos of the winners. Talk to the photographer about what is the best place for them to stand etc. He will appreciate your help and in most cases they will go out of their way to get some great shots of you as well. It’s a Win-Win.
Get Information early
It’s great to have the names of nominees etc as early as possible, so you can practice any tricky pronunciations etc. The organiser of the awards tend to be secretive about the winners, but try and find this out too if you can. Getting too much information at the last minute can lead to mistakes
Spotlight the Winner
If you are lucky enough to have Follow Spot operators, they should be told in advance at which table the winner is sitting. Or at the moment they are announced via a Talkback System. This adds immensely to the sense of occasion and also helps cover that awkward walk to the stage. Once the Spotlight is on them people feel the pressure to get on with it and get moving to the stage.
Get People to the Front
If you have a number of Awards that are not a surprise announcement, time can also be saved by having the committee member round them up and have them standing side of stage before you start the segment. Long Service Awards are an example.
For large events where there is an Audio Visual Team they probably have the music sorted out for Walk On and Walk Off. However for smaller events that you might be the MC for, they possibly have not thought of this. I have a number of tracks pre-loaded on my ipad that are suitable for Awards Nights and have used them at quite a few events. The client was thrilled that I was ready and saw how it added to the atmosphere. I currently use an app called Play On Cue which is very easy to use, you can either do it yourself from the lectern or show someone how to use it. There are plenty of other suitable apps as well.
Having Walk On music really helps cover that gap between a winner being announced and them getting up onstage.
A “running gag” is one that gets repeated with different variations. Because you are doing a series of introductions / segments, this can be a good time to do it.
It can just be a phrase that gets repeated each time or something like a different quote. I’ve outlined where you can find some of these later in the article.
Thank You Speeches
These can either be the highlight of the event or a real drag on the timing. Check with your client if prize winners are expected to give an acceptance speech.
If they are and you are pressed for time, make sure you pre-empt the timing factor as you start the ceremony. Mention that speeches should be short.
Don’t be afraid to cut people off if they are rambling on. One trick is to not leave the stage while they talk. Stand just to the side, so you can quietly ask them to wrap it up if needed, or touch them gently on the elbow to give them the big hint.
As with most issues that arise during an MC engagement, a few words early on can pay big dividends later on.
You might want to stress early on that time is tight, so if your name is called, please come to the stage quickly. As mentioned previously, you might place a hint that acceptance speeches should be short. I also try and get the audience onside and realise that they play a big part in helping the night run smoothly.
The Big Award
In your pre briefing with your client, check what is happening immediately after the final award. This is important. The last Award can be very significant for a person, a franchise or a company. Salesman of the Year, Achievement Award etc. It can boost a persons career or business, as they can use it for publicity. After that Award is finished, people want to talk. They want to talk to the winner. They want to complain to the person next to them that the judges picked the wrong person etc. In other words it’s hard to get the room back on focus.
If you can, try and have a break scheduled then. If you have any general or housekeeping announcements to make, try and do them before the segment starts rather than as it ends.
Awards Nights Jokes & Quotes
In the Expert MC Toolkit and Resource Manual you will find several pages of material that are perfect for Awards Nights.
On page 43 of this ebook there are quite a few lines that I have used at many sessions.
For instance the “Mosquito” quote is perfect if they giving an encouragement award.
“The Pledge” is also very strong if the audience already know you and get into the spirit of it.
Also check out pages 50-53, the “Success, Attitude & Motivation” section. There is enough material there to add a suitable line before each winner is announced.
“Their Name as an Acronym” on page 60 is also good for these situations.
Remember, you don’t have to get a laugh with every line, you are after different dynamics, highs and lows, laughter, Ah-ha’s & tears.
You know, the first few Awards Nights I ran, I found them very hard. Hopefully with these tips and tactics, you will find them a lot easier.