How to keep the sound person in church happy

Disclaimer: I am not a professional sound engineer. I am an amateur who does the sound desk at church once a month. 

Another disclaimer: Your church may not have the luxury of a sound desk. I read an article recently in a Christian magazine that talked about the role of a "Worship Pastor" as if every church had one. I realise this article may not be relevant, though it may be useful in future.

The speaker at a Christian festival starts his talk on the stage with a joke. "What's the difference between a terrorist and the sound guy? You can negotiate with a terr-". The rest of the sentence is inaudible.

That's not a good way to keep the sound person happy. Here are some tips.

Care of microphones

Microphones are like ears. They don't like being banged, or having warm, moist air blown into them (unless it's by someone very special). If you want to check if a mike is working, speak at normal volume, or just tickle it. If you tickle it you should hear a scratching sound.


Church microphones are not miracle workers. When you pray, speak clearly. Hushed, reverent tones that you might use in a housegroup may not get picked up properly in church.

Starting off

At concerts there will be a sound check when the band and the sound engineers work together to get the microphone levels right. It would be great if everyone who was going to speak in church turned up early (even before the pre-service prayer meeting) so that they could work with the sound person to get the mike position and volume right. That's not going to happen though. So when you first step up there the sound person will not have the volume turned up full. He or she doesn't know how loudly you're going to speak, they don't know if you're going to clear your throat loudly, or adjust the angle of the mike (cue squeaky sounds). They will use the first few words you say to set the level. So don't start off like this:
(Long pause)
Can you hear me?
We may or may not be able to hear you. Depending on where the speakers are we may hear you louder than you hear yourself. That's not enough words to get the level right. So be prepared for the first sentence or so to not be heard by everyone and just keep speaking. The sound person can't get the level right if you're not speaking.


Another tip you can learn from concerts is what to do when you want to get louder. If you notice the singer will often sing with their mouth really near to the mike (you don't need to speak like that). When they want to belt out a line they will move their mouth back so that the volume doesn't overload the sound system. If you want to raise your voice or shout just lean back slightly.


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