How To Connect And Engage Audiences Using A Microphone (5 Methods for DJs)

photo of a cheesy DJ using a microphone

Overview

With all the hype surrounding new technology and DJ techniques, the use of a microphone has unfortunately become a blind spot for many new DJs.

This post not only covers some microphone basics but also provides 5 real-world methods to help captivate your audience using the mic.

Even if you don’t use one that often, or don’t intend to, it’s best to be prepared for anything. So let’s get to it!

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DJ microphone basics

Mic types / how much to spend

Before we dive into engagement methods, let’s quickly cover some basics. While various microphone types are available, the main two are ‘dynamic’ and ‘condenser’.

For working DJs, a dynamic mic will work best for most scenarios due to its durability and versatility. In contrast, a condenser mic tends to be used in studio settings due to its sensitivity and ability to capture finer details.

As a reasonable ballpark, while you can certainly invest a lot more, a reliable microphone will set you back between $50 and $100 USD. As with many other things: don’t go too cheap and you should be fine!

Setting up / feedback issues

When setting up your mic, placement and positioning play a crucial role in capturing your voice and minimizing background noise. If possible, you’ll want to experiment with different positions to find the sweet spot that works best.

Some mobile DJs like to use a mic cover, also known as a ‘windshield’ or ‘windsock’, to help cut out air ruffles and heavy breathing, etc.

photo of a microphone with a windsock

Feedback occurs when the microphone picks up sound from the speakers. Whether it’s ‘squeals’, ‘thuds’ or ‘clicks’, here are some useful tips to prevent this:

  1. Maintain a sufficient distance between the microphone and speakers to prevent sound from looping back to the mic.
  2. Keep your monitor speaker in the DJ booth at a low volume.
  3. Before putting it down, turn the microphone volume down and switch it off.
  4. If available, experiment with the microphone’s EQ settings to find the best balance. Consider cutting frequencies that are prone to feedback, such as high frequencies.

Do a mic check

Even the most experienced DJs experience sound issues, so conducting a mic/sound check isn’t a step you want to skip.

Unless you’re using a talk-over function on your DJ mixer or DJ controller, be sure to turn the volume down and wait a second or two before speaking. Whilst it depends on the microphone itself, a good rule of thumb is to hold it at a 45-degree angle and a couple of inches from your mouth.

I always do the classic ‘’testing, testing, 1 – 2” before getting started.

If you’re prone to getting nervous, or perhaps you haven’t used one in a while, a mic check can be a good opportunity to say a few words without the fear of messing something up.

Exude confidence

Confidence is key when using a microphone (I know… such a revelation, right.). The generic advice is to take a deep breath, then speak slowly and clearly into the mic… focusing on just one person in the audience if that helps.

If you have somewhat of a monotone or dull-sounding voice (as I do at times), then injecting some enthusiasm into your delivery might also be a good idea.

Body language is also crucial. So be sure to stand up straight, make eye contact, and use hand gestures if that comes naturally to you. Dare I say it: try to be yourself.


How To Engage Audiences Using a Microphone (5 methods for DJs):

photo of a mic resting on the decks

1. Vocal introductions

Using the microphone to introduce yourself, or to make a statement of arrival, such as ‘’How you doing people, are you ok?!’’ is a great way to break the ice with your audience and let them know you’ve taken control.

Depending on the scenario, you can use the opportunity to greet the birthday girl or boy, point out how amazing everyone looks, or perhaps comment on the beautiful weather if it’s a genuinely gorgeous day.

A confident and charismatic vocal introduction sets the stage for an incredible day/night, creating anticipation and excitement among the crowd. It’s an easy win and a great place to start!

2. Shoutouts & announcements

Next up, acknowledging individuals or groups in the crowd with personalized shoutouts is another useful tool in your tool kit. Such recognition adds a personal touch and makes the audience feel valued, fostering a stronger connection.

“Big shoutout to Sarah, celebrating her birthday tonight! Let’s make some noise for her!”, could be one example.

👉 Read this next: How to read a crowd as a DJ.

Additionally, the DJ might communicate event logistics, such as drink specials or upcoming performers. “Don’t forget, folks, there’s a 2-4-1 drink special at the bar until midnight!”

Just remember to keep your announcements concise and clear, allowing the music to remain the main focus. And don’t be scared to inject some humour into your announcements whenever possible.

Shoutouts in particular are also used on mixshows for people engaging on social media (which works better in real-time and for livestreaming), acknowledging comments like ‘’Shout-out to Dave The Rave who says he’s lovin the tunes’’.

3. Facilitate requests and song dedications

Encouraging people to come forward with song requests and song dedications always perks ears up I find. I’ve historically done this early on in the evening when the dancefloor is relatively thin as a way to personalise the experience for smaller numbers.

Whilst it obviously depends on the scenario, I generally wouldn’t do it with a busy dancefloor.

Proceed with caution here, though, as song requests will inevitably cause problems. For example, people might request a track that would mess up the flow of the evening, or worse, intoxicated punters will abuse your attention.

With this in mind, always be firm, and consider using the disclaimer: ‘’I’ll try your best to include it if you can’’, or ‘’I’ll try to fit it in later’’ …particularly if they ask for the Spice Girls.

👉 Read this next: How to manage song requests.

4. Encourage crowd participation

Encouraging crowd participation can take certain DJ gigs to the next level. If the setting allows, you can ask the audience to sing along, clap, or even chant something.

Microphone games are great for this. A couple of classics, and pretty self-explanatory examples, include ‘Lyric Finish’., where the DJ plays a song and pauses it at a certain point, allowing the crowd to complete the lyrics.

When I worked in Spain, I would give away a free cocktail of choice for ‘Guess The Tune’, with the premise being: ‘If you think you know it stick your hand up’., then simply pause or turn down the music when a hand goes up.

You could even try to conduct a Dance-Off, although that’s probably more applicable for younger groups and parties.

5. Hype phrases & vocal appreciation

Beyond the tacky hype phrases that ‘EDM’ DJs use, such as “put your hands up,” “make some noise,” or “let’s party” (yes, indeed, vomit! 🤮), these can be useful verbal cues to engage and energize the crowd.

DJs strategically insert these short, catchy statements between songs or during transitions to maintain the crowd’s energy levels, build anticipation, and prompt cheers, claps, or dance responses.

For me, one DJ that does this best, is surely house & techno legend, Carl Cox! Coxy has 3 or 4 go-to phrases. As examples, these include ‘’Amazing, Amazing’’, ‘’Fantastic, Fantastic’’ …and of course, ‘’Oh Yes, Oh Yes’’!.

As you see, it shouldn’t be too hard to make up your own versions!

Lastly, expressing gratitude and appreciation to the audience throughout your performance is another easy win. At the end of the night, in particular, you can finish with a simple “Thank you!” or “You’re all amazing!” …which always goes a long way.


Conclusion

By understanding the basics and incorporating these crowd engagement strategies, you’ll have the edge over 90% of other DJs that leave it to an afterthought. Not only that, mastering this skill will result in a substantial boost to your market value over time!

The microphone can be your secret weapon in captivating your audience. So don’t be afraid to experiment, practice, and let your creativity flow.

Best of luck.


FAQs

What types of DJs use the mic?

Mobile and event DJs, including wedding DJs, often rely on microphones more frequently than their counterparts in bars and clubs. However, the necessity and extent of microphone usage can vary greatly depending on factors such as the venue, location, audience, occasion, and other considerations.

How much should I spend on a DJ microphone?

As we mention in this post, $50 to $100 USD is a good ballpark for a dynamic microphone that’s suitable for any type of working DJ. You can obviously spend considerably more than that, with higher-end models ranging from $200 to $500.

What are the benefits of using a wireless microphone?

Popular with a variety of MCs, rappers, and so on, wireless microphones offer enhanced mobility, allowing DJs to move freely around the stage. They reduce cable clutter, provide flexibility for stage performances, and enable seamless interaction with the audience.

What’s the difference between dynamic and condenser microphones?

For DJs, a dynamic mic will work best for most scenarios due to its durability and versatility, while a condenser mic tends to be used in studio settings due to its sensitivity and ability to capture finer details.

What are some popular microphone brands?

To name just a few, popular microphone brands include Shure, Sennheiser, Audio-Technica, and Behringer. These brands offer a variety of options catering to different budgets and performance needs for DJs and live performers.

How can I reduce feedback when using a microphone?

Here are some useful tips to prevent microphone feedback:

  1. Experiment with the placement and angle of the microphone
  2. Maintain a sufficient distance between the microphone and speakers to prevent sound from looping back to the mic.
  3. Keep your monitor speaker in the DJ booth at a low volume.
  4. Before putting it down, turn the microphone volume down and switch it off.
  5. If available, experiment with the microphone’s EQ settings to find the best balance. Consider cutting frequencies that are prone to feedback, such as high frequencies.

What is the talk over function on a mixer?

The talk-over function on a mixer automatically reduces the volume of background music when someone speaks into the microphone. This ensures clear communication by prioritizing the microphone’s audio over the music, making it useful for announcements and interactions during DJ performances.

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    Ever since I could get into 'proper' nightclubs, I've loved everything about the underground dance scene. The short story is, having always been an avid music collector, I used to DJ at a handful of bars & clubs around Europe through the 2000s - playing out mostly lounge, funky house, and open-format/commercial stuff. I’m also a radio show host and Founder here at The DJ Revolution.

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