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Public speaking tips: What’s a lavaliere microphone? How do I wear it?

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November 19, 2012

by Andy Saks

Ever seen a speaker on stage or on camera with a small black object clipped to their coat, shirt collar or tie?

That’s called a “lapel” or “lavaliere/lav” microphone.

A lavaliere microphone is a generally the smallest, lightest microphone a speaker can wear or carry. It’s commonly worn when speaking on camera and in smaller live speaking venues.

Lavaliere microphones work well to amplify voices in otherwise-quiet spaces. Their light weight and strong quality help carry the speaker’s voice without requiring a more cumbersome headset “Madonna” mic or handheld mic.

Wireless lav microphones aren’t completely wireless, however; they usually include a wire connected to a wireless transmitter box about the size of a deck of cards, which is clipped to the speaker’s belt or inside pocket. The wireless component is the segment from the transmitter box to the speaker or audio mixing board, across which the audio travels without wires.

For best results with a lav mic: 1) feed the wire to the transmitter box under your top layer of clothing, so it doesn’t float loosely outside your clothing where it can distract your audience and catch on nearby objects; 2) test your mic before your presentation by delivering a few minutes of your presentation and allowing your audio tech to adjust your volume and tone for best fidelity; 3) don’t speak while your head is turned far to the left or right if possible; the movement of your mouth away from the mic position will often cause your volume to drop noticeably.

For more specific questions and advice, please contact Andy directly. Thanks for reading!

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