How to Prevent Embarrassing Microphone Problems

In the middle of a severe episode of writer’s block, a tech on Facebook suggested I write on pastor microphone problems. The block was destroyed and the ideas started following. Microphone problems? Oh, I’ve a list of those.

The problems aren’t just with pastor microphones, they can happen when anyone with a speaking role takes the stage. There are seven key areas where you can proactively prevent microphone problems.

1. Lock wireless microphones.

Wireless microphones, handheld and lapel packs, can have an option for locking the On/Off switch. For example, in our Shure handhelds, if I hold down the SET and MODE buttons at the same time, for a few seconds, it locks the switch. This means that if the switch is moved to the Off position, it stays on. This is great for preventing people from accidentally turning off a microphone.

2. Tape the switch.

In the case of wireless microphones without the locking option, consider a small piece of black electrical tape to secure the switch. You don’t want a person to get flustered because the microphone won’t come on and they don’t realize the problem is on their end.

3. Keep the channel on with the fader down when not in use.

Mixing consoles can be different in that some have a button that lights up if the channel is muted while others have a lit On button. My point here is that it’s easy to assume when the fader is up that the channel is on. I like to see my pastor’s microphone channel lit with the fader down when it’s not needed. This way, when he walks on the stage, I see that I need to bring up the fader. Just make sure you have their channel set to post-fader so when they aren’t “on,” their voice isn’t heard in secondary rooms or recordings or wherever else you might send their signal. Hey, you have your tricks and I’ve got mine.

Oh, a big tip here: never mute the pastor’s microphone until they have left the stage. In some cases, you might even wait until they sit down. I’ve seen pastors say something at the last minute, after I had muted their microphone but before they sat down.

4. Turn them on.

Hand all wireless microphones to people with the power on … and locked or taped. They need to know that you have them muted and that you will take care of everything on your end. This prevents the person from forgetting to turn on the microphone on stage.

5. Tell them where to put it—wireless.

In the case of people speaking on the stage for the first time, I see a lot of hesitation after they speak. They don’t know if the wireless handheld should stay on the stage or if they take it with them. Before taking the stage, inform them where to put the microphone when they are done.

6. Tell them where to put it—wired.

The tough part with people using wired microphones is they don’t know what to do with them when they are done. Do they place it on the podium? Do they place it on the ground? If they think to put it in the mic stand, how does it go into the microphone clip? To you and me, this seems a no-brainer. But for the person who is new or nervous or just unsure, give them a few words of instruction before they take the stage.

7. Check the batteries.

And whatever you do, always make sure the batteries are charged enough in the wireless microphones to get you through the service.

In Summary

You can prevent a lot of embarrassing microphone problems by following these seven points. You’ll be benefiting the congregation by preventing distractions and you’ll be helping the pastor and first-time speakers by taking care of their concerns … at least concerning their microphone. You can’t do anything about their lame jokes.

P.S. For all that is good and pure and holy, please take off the foam windscreen on your handheld microphones. As long as you are indoors, where there is NO WIND, then you don’t need them. 

This article originally appeared on Behind the Mixer. You can access the original article by clicking here. 

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Chris Huff
Chris Huff is the author of Audio Essentials for Church Sound. He also teaches all aspects of live audio production, from the technical fundamentals to creative music mixing to keeping your sanity. Find out more at

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