Okay this week, it’s all been about learning how to use the hand held microphone.
I’m going to be a Roving Reporter for Microsoft Ignite, a technology conference in Orlando on 4-8 November and along with my other 9 global reporters, we’ve been getting some hints about how to interview people on camera.
I’m no stranger to interviewing people where I’m behind the camera but this is going to be different. The four days of the conference will be live streamed and I’ll have to think on my feet by having a camera crew and walking around asking questions to people attending and also some interviews scheduled with people working at Microsoft. That means I have to be in front of a camera with a hand held microphone.
Of course, they’ll be providing all the equipment for us over the four days but the times when we aren’t scheduled to be on camera, we are free to roam around the event.
I’m going to use the opportunity to capture film and footage and conduct interviews with various people around adoption and change management themes that I can use within my current work at Adopt & Embrace in particular, content that can be used for our Academy.
(For those who would like to know more, the Academy is an online community of IT, Change, Marketing and Learning people who have access to resources to help make their O365 and Microsoft Teams implementation successful – and a community of peers who you can share ideas and knowledge as well as immediate access to any of the Adopt & Embrace staff). Let me know if you want more information on how to become a member.
Why The Need?
I’ve never had to interview anyone with a hand held microphone before although I’ve had to use a microphone on stage in the past. I do recall how fickle the sound can be if you have your mic close to the mouth or how quiet it can be if it is too low. I also recall how distracting it is to wave it around, similarly to grip it as if your life depended on it.
Quick smart, I realised I need to learn the skills of holding and using one.
Initially I thought I could buy one but it was going to set me back near $300 if I was to buy a good one and I pondered if it was going to be something I’d use ongoing. I have a large plastic container of old technology and cables that I went through and found a couple of old hand held microphones and decided to try these out instead.
Before I did that, a quick trawl on YouTube and Google, found me these great resources as a starting point
How to Hold and Use a Handheld Mic for Best Sound by Brett Young
What are the Best Microphones to Use for Interviews by Think Media (subscribe to this excellent YouTube channel).
What is a Handheld Microphone?
Using the RODE Reporter Microphone in the Field (this is what I would buy if I was doing more of this stuff).
How to Mic a Field Interview by Robin White
Still, I was surprised that I couldn’t find some more effective resources on the techniques of microphone skill for interviewing people as many seemed to focus on just the microphones themselves – not the skill of placement, questioning, active listening, awareness of environment and noise etc.
Guess that just comes with having skills in communication, presentation and thinking on your feet…
Anyway, I learned a whole heap of things but I had to get up from my desk and actually try out the different microphones for myself on my new camera, a Canon G7x Mark III which has an external audio jack.
My first attempt was this (look how I’m dressed – I LOOK like a bloody news reporter in the field, all that is missing is a scarf):
After having shown this video, I did get some feedback (yay!) on Twitter:
For what it’s worth (maybe $0.02) you are spot on for audio importance.
– Take mic down 5 cm.
– The TOP of mic is directional.
– Go with 3/4 stance and your back hand based on what side you choose.
– Frame shot so you are centered.
– you are a natural. Run with it!
— Rick Claus (@RicksterCDN) October 18, 2019
So take 2, the next day, let’s try again:
Then on Day 3m on Sunday morning I found another couple of microphones laying around our house for many years. I think they both came in the ark…however, I had to test these too. I saw one was a Sanyo which looked like it came from the 1960s with the old Sanyo logo…
Found two more old microphones in our old tech stash. I’m going to test these out. Wonder how old they are?! pic.twitter.com/rNyw1MdPlO
— Helen Blunden #MSIgnite Community Reporter 🎤📸🤳 (@ActivateLearn) October 20, 2019
Here’s what they sounded like:
All in all, the microphone on the camera is excellent but in a noisy environment, I can’t escape the fact that I will need a uni directional microphone. The lavalier was good but how I put it on my shirt meant that there was a lot of noise from the lapel of my shirt going over the top of it.
It meant that I had to have working microphones WITH the clips – (the clip had broken), so I immediately ordered a new dual head lavalier microphone off eBay plus an audio splitter just in case that doesn’t come in the mail soon, I can still split the two lav mics I have between myself and the interviewee. That way I can be on camera too.
The hand held microphone needs a bit of work. People aren’t used to seeing a cable nowadays – everything is wireless. If anything, it makes me look like a cheap skate using old technology but hey, I’m of the belief that when you’re just starting out, you don’t need fancy equipment. Instead, you need to hone in your practice and skill first and to be comfortable. If over time, you’re starting to improve and you’re doing more interviews, then sure, go ahead and start buying the quality equipment. Don’t let the technology and the perception that you need to have the most expensive equipment to start video be the thing to STOP you from learning.
Much of what I share online is done on old technology. For example, using the iPhone 6 (it’s my work horse) and for the stuff that I share that is not based around high quality, highly curated content to capture views. I’m not selling my video creation services – there are other experts out there who do this.
What I’m about is using ANY medium to get your knowledge, skills, capabilities, experiences, work, projects and learning out into the internet so that you can start to tap into networks who can help build and develop your skills further. It’s about showing and sharing your work and learning openly and transparently for the purposes of continual learning and personal and professional growth.
So I’m learning how to use the hand held microphone. I see this as a bigger picture of what it is that I’m learning here – to me, it’s all a part of looking forward to an experience of a conference that I’ve never been to, in a country that is away from my own, with people I don’t usually meet, in industries that I usually don’t work in and in an environment that is as totally foreign to my life where I spend most time – my home office in Melbourne.
I see an opportunity to be a roving reporter as an opportunity to build additional skills and capabilities that will help me in my current work.
So think about what’s coming up in your life and your work life that you can use as a learning experience?
How can you meld what you learn there and apply it to some work context and in so doing, get re-inspired with what you’re doing at your normal day job?
Right, back to it now…. learning is a never ending process. I now cannot wait for my first interview on livestream – in REAL TIME – how freaky is that? My heart is going to jump in my mouth, it’ll be bad for sure but hey, I can only improve with the more I do.
…and guess what?
We all feel like that. At least we can just admit to ourselves that we’ve got those scary butterflies in our stomach but let’s just go with the flow because we all want to make it the best experience for everyone else.