Tips, Videos, Handouts

How to Use Microphones for Group Interaction

Using microphones in a large group so everyone gets heard can be tricky. In this video, Craig explains his tricks! He even explains how modern-day microphones are like ancient talking sticks.

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Here’s what Craig says in the video

Hi everybody! Hey it’s Craig Freshley here.

A lot of times I do meetings with really large groups; so large that we need to use a microphone and a PA system, otherwise known as a public address system. My rule of thumb is about 40 to 60 people: if you have more than that you probably need to use a microphone.

When a microphone is called for, I like to use wireless handheld microphones because whenever I’m talking with a group, it’s going to be interactive. I’m not just stationary at the front. I am calling on people and I want to hear from other people and everybody who speaks in such a meeting needs to be using a microphone.

My preferred set up is a lavalier mic for me and two wireless handheld mics for me that I maintain control of. I like to get out and run around the audience and hold microphones for people. Sometimes I will let a person hold the microphone by themselves; and I’ve still got one to go take to somebody else. If I let that person hold the microphone while they’re talking, I circle back around and get this one. Sometimes I hold the microphone for somebody and whenever I do that I kneel down and get myself out of the way.

Using a microphone has an interesting effect on a meeting. It acts as a “talking stick.” You may be familiar with the Native American tradition of passing a talking stick in a group and the rule is that you can only talk if you’re holding the stick. A microphone is a lot like that and the good thing about it is it ensures that only one person talks at a time. And not only that, if I’m facilitating the meeting in the way I just described, I’m the one that gets to manage who talks when. The microphone can be extremely effective at preventing shout outs, crosstalk, interruptions, etc.

On the other hand, sometimes we want that spontaneity. We like it when people can quickly comment on each other’s comments, and if you have a strict rule that everyone who talks needs to talk into a microphone, you lose that.

Look, a lot of places that I speak and give workshops they have a house PA system. They have their own wireless microphones, lavalier mics, etc. But not always, so I went ahead and bought my own wireless microphone system. I’ve got two wireless mics and a lavalier mic and they channel into this receiver and then I plug the receiver into a simple 30 Watt amplifier. I take this on the road with me and this works pretty well for most situations that I’m in.

Look here’s just a few tips about how to use microphones in a meeting where you want audience interaction.

I hope this helps you help your group make good decisions.

Thanks for listening everybody!

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