All Insights

When do Your Presenters Need to use a Mic?

Cameron Magee
on March 30, 2021

We’re all climbing out of a pandemic, and I’m getting more production planning questions from clients than ever, I love it!

I love to teach and am happy to share some of the insights we’ve all learned as a team over the years here on the site. Feel free to ask questions of your own, any time, and I’ll continue to share.

When do your presenters need to use a mic?

We use 3 simple rules outlined below. 

Post-Pandemic Planning

This question has been coming up more in the past few weeks. Groups are beginning to plan to gather. When they gather, they’ll start by gathering in the smallest sizes ever. Before, large group settings required a mic, it was obvious. Now, groups are small enough to just be on the tipping scale of asking what they’ve never asked: do I need to use this?

Hybrid Component

Also coming out of the pandemic means most events we’re planning have a hybrid component. Before, the entire audience was in the room, a large room, so, mics were obvious. I think most presenters “get it” for speaking in large rooms. During the pandemic, over Zoom and other streaming platforms, the mic was assumed as part of the webcam. Now as things return, hybrid event planning begs this question. The answer is, if you’re hybrid, absolutely a microphone is required. This may be commonly forgotten when groups don’t have a professional event planner. It may be a last-minute realization when the Zoom computer on the front row is many feet away from the presenter and the sound is distant. Yes your presenter needs a microphone, ideally a wireless one, transmitting into that computer. We’ve always done this, but for many clients, it’s a first.

The last pandemic-related remark before the three basic principles outlined below is: social distancing. Before, a group of 50 people seated theater style may be able to strain for the presenter to get away with not using a mic in a budget scenario. In the first events coming out of the pandemic, event planning diagrams are putting one person at each 6ft table, quite spread out, meaning the presenter’s sound needs to reach further and wider than before.

Sages + Scientists Symposium 2019 on the Future of Wellbeing at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Friday, Nov. 15, 2019, Bentonville, Arkansas. (Photo by Jack Dempsey)

Rule One: “More than 30 People”

The first rule of thumb we always use when advising clients with production insights during their event planning is, if your audience is more than 30 people, have your presenter us a mic. When planning breakouts, small training events, even large board meeting environments, the first number used in the hospitality industry will always be headcount. Use that number translated over into your A/V plans for this very first rule of thumb.

Rule Two: “Further than 30ft”

If your presenter is more than 30ft away from your furthest guest, they are going to be straining for those in the back to hear. Some presenters have voices that can carry, but rooms are often used by more than one presenter. A presenter may be plenty loud, but if a more soft-spoken MC introduces them, that’s a stretch. Also getting the attention of a room to take their seats, throwing sound more than 30ft with the human voice, over many other human voices, can be difficult. So, as a good rule of thumb, if your presenter’s sound needs to travel further than 30ft, use a mic.

Rule Three: “Longer than 3 Minutes”

Sports coaches are a great demonstration of how long the human voice can last at high volumes. If you’re convincing a bullish presenter, this can be a helpful reminder. Presenters speaking to a group for longer than 3mins should use a mic. These decisions are not just made by the physical stamina of if someone is physically capable. Consider the tone of voice of if your presenters want to portray themselves to the audience having to have a raised tone of voice for extended periods of time.

I hope these three rules, based around the number three, will be as easy for you to remember as they are for us here at avad3. Another three. For more tips like this, and the hope of better puns, subscribe to our insights blog for future event production insights for the savvy event planner.

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