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Best Microphone Setups for Virtual Presentations

communication skills presentation skills voice overs

Your micorphone is the difference between people actually hearing what you have to say or tuning you out. That's why you need to have the best microphone setups for your virtual presentations. You can have all the tech tools and fancy cameras in the world but if your audience can't hear you well your delivery will fall flat. 

When you're presenting virtually like this, your mic setup is actually more important than your camera. How do I know? Because people will listen to podcasts, but they won't watch silent movies! So let's take a moment today and talk about how you can improve the way that you sound in your virtual presentation.

Hi, I'm Joshua, Seth, keynote speaker on powerful presentation skills. And today I want to give you a quick tip on how you can sound your best when making virtual presentations.

This is my microphone. I love it. I have five or six microphones in the house. I mean, I was a voice actor after all. I love microphones!

So this is a subject that's near and dear to my heart. And the reason that I'm making this video today is that I'm coaching a broadcaster right now who's doing a lot of direct hits from her home. In other words, she is making appearances on news programs remotely.

When I first started working with her, believe it or not, she was doing this…

Have you seen where broadcasters and newscasters are dialing in from home and they've got a dangly headset coming out of their ears? It reduces your credibility! It looks silly and it's distracting. So get rid of those. Okay?

I actually started working with her via text before we ever got on a call together and told her to lose those. And then the next time I see her on the news, she’s wearing these air pods!

Okay. It's a little bit better. It's less distracting, but I still, I can't help but look at these headphones coming out of her ears. Please don't do that. Now, there will be people who will say, “Well Joshua, you've got a microphone in the shot. Isn't that distracting?”

Yes and no. Okay. I get that. I understand. But if what you're going for is an emotional connection with your audience, then proximity matters.

In fact, there are three points that I want to make today.

  1. Proximity
  2. Sound Dampening
  3. A Quality Microphone

So let's start with proximity. In order to get the best quality out of any microphone that you use in your virtual presentations, it needs to be close to your mouth.

In a voiceover recording studio, we always do this…

Take your fist and stick your thumb out. That's about as far from the mic as it should be. Because of the type of microphone that this is, I'm doing crosstalk. I'm not speaking directly into it.

If I were speaking directly into it, you would hear pops and plosives and I would need a wind screen or something that would get in the way of the visuals.

But because I'm talking across it, that proximity of my mouth to the mic is such that we don't need to have a wind screen.

The most important thing that you need to remember is that the microphone needs to be close to your mouth. Not right up on it. What's called eating the mic.

And not like this either. You hear the room tone? I'm far away. Where the emotional connection is gone. So we bring it back. Right about there. Microphone proximity.

Next, there's a window behind me here. That window is sound dampened because I have a big sound dampening blanket over the window. I've got a link down below. You can get them on Amazon.

They’re very inexpensive. I actually have it tacked up on the wall. With thumbtacks. Windows will make your room tone feel very hollow and echoey,. And they’ll take the presence out of your voice and suck the connection out of you to your listener. So put some sound dampening on the windows. A blanket is a good way to do that.

You can also use foam squares to dampen the sound on the walls and in the corners, but that's typically not really necessary and is a lot more complicated than just hanging a blanket.

Also, make sure that the floor is carpeted. If the room in which you are recording has hardwood or tile then get an area rug and put that down because of the way that wave forms bounce off of walls, corners, windows, and hard floors. That will make you sound terrible if the sound is not dampened, no matter how good a microphone you've got.

Now let's get to the microphone itself.

Worst option: The microphone on your computer. It’s better than nothing. Yes. But let's not use that if all possible.

Better option: A wired lavaliere microphone. Why is this one still in the box? Because when you use a wired mic, it can pull on you and be very distracting if you move around at all. So I don't use it.

Even better option: The Blue Yeti. This baby I've had for at least 10 years! I got this Blue Yeti right when it came out. There's a reason that these things are so popular.

So why aren't I using it? Because in order for the Blue Yeti to work well, it needs to be close to your mouth. Yet it’s designed to sit on your desk.

I stand, when I give my presentations. I'm using a standing desk right now. So the Blue Yeti microphone would be way too far away to make a good vocal impression.

So only use the Blue Yeti microphone if it's sitting right in front of your face, even if it's out of frame.

An even better option: A wireless lavaliere microphone. By the way, what's a lavaliere mic? Well it's this is your lav. Okay? Put it right there. The wire goes inside my pocket or clips onto my belt. This is actually the microphone that I bring with me when I'm doing keynote speeches live. This is a Shure wireless lavaliere mic and the only drawback to that for virtual presentations is that it has an XLR connector, which means that I have to run it through a mixer.

I have a physical Behringer XLR to USB mixer sitting on my desk right now. You don't have to worry about that. That's overkill for most people. But I use this when I'm doing virtual keynotes and presentations so that I can move around and use all the space in front of the camera.

And that brings us to this baby right here. I love this mic. I've had microphones that cost four or five or six times as much as this one. And I tell you, this sounds just as good. Warm, rich, and very forgiving.

It's the MXL 990. I have a link for it down below. If you want to have a great sounding mic that's going to be in the camera frame, I highly recommend this one.

I've got it on a boom arm that's connected to my desk. It actually replaced a boom microphone that I had mounted above my camera and out of frame.

Here's why I don't like boom microphones for virtual presentations. They are very precise, very unforgiving. You have to be directly in front of that unidirectional boom microphone in order for it to pick you up well and work as well as it should.

So unless you're sitting exactly still, a boom microphone may not work for you. I've tried several of them. Believe me. I would prefer not to have a microphone in the frame because it gets in the way between me and you. But remember, it's more important to sound well than it is to look good. Because the better you sound, the better you look. Because it's better to sound well than it is to look good.

That's my Ricardo Montalban. Anybody remember Fantasy Island?

Anyhow, I've got links for all this equipment down below. If you have any questions, just put a comment down there as well. I will be happy to answer them.

The most important thing to remember is that when you are giving virtual presentations, your audience needs to be able to hear you and connect with you through the sound of your voice.

So the better quality microphone, the more sound dampening you have, and the closer proximity you have to the mic, the more effective your presentation will be.

Here are the links to all the microphones I talked about (plus the Rode Go, which is the wireless lavaliere mic I would buy if I were getting one today):

• Yeti Blue: https://amzn.to/3uikUMZ

• Lavalier Microphone (wired): https://amzn.to/3uh4y7a

• Lavalier Microphone (wireless): https://amzn.to/3oKRUMK

• Soundproofing Blankets: https://amzn.to/3oKRMwK

• Soundproofing Foam: https://amzn.to/3fflyq6

• MXL990: https://amzn.to/3vcuX7w

 

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