Best Practice for Radio Users

Clear, Efficient Communications

Microphone Manners – How to Use your Radio Microphone

The safety of users is a top priority for organizations who provide radio communications. Clear, concise communications are critical to worker safety. So in this topic, we will provide six principles that demonstrate the best ways to use a microphone to ensure clear, concise communication. Although we’re using a speaker microphone for a portable, these principles apply when speaking directly into the portable or when using a mobile radio microphone as well.

First, push and hold the PTT button throughout your transmission: A common mistake many users new to radio make is starting their conversation before they’ve finished pressing the PTT button, or letting go of the PTT button before their transmission is complete. Although you might only miss one or two words, those one or two words could be very important. Many trunked and digital radios will provide the user a beep to indicate they are connected and can talk, so make sure you wait for the beep before speaking.

Second, you should hold the microphone between 1-2 inches or 2-5cm from your mouth.  A common mistake is talking too far away from the microphone. This makes the audio more susceptible to room noise, reverb, and harsh tones. On the flip side, getting too close to your mic can be bad too. This will pick up excessive breathing, mouth noises, and pops from letters like P and T (which are called plosives). Many users keep their radio on or around their lapel, which works because it is about the right distance.

Police officer radio

Next, you should talk past the microphone. Pointing the mic directly at your face causes the most plosives as the puffs of air some letters make will go straight from your mouth. Pivot the mic around your mouth so you are talking past the mic instead of into the mic. Again, keeping it on your lapel will ensure you talk past the microphone instead of directly into it.

Fourth, don’t rattle the microphone. Try to avoid movement of the microphone in your hand while transmitting. Any movement can translate into background noises or inconsistent volume levels, which detract from the quality of the transmitted signal. For the best audio, hold the mic still.

Fifth, when possible, avoid noise around the microphone. What you do away from the mic is just as important as in front of the microphone. Avoid loud keyboards, squeaking chairs, cracking knuckles, whispered conversations, background noise­makers, and more.  Although some microphones will have noise cancellation, it is always better to speak in a quieter area. If possible move to a less noisy location to improve the clarity of your speech.

Sixth, speak clearly in your normal voice. That means you don’t need to shout. And you don’t want to speak too fast. Divide your message into natural phrases rather than individual words, so that what you say flows smoothly.

So there you have it. Following these six principles when you use your radio will improve audio clarity and, therefore, increase safety.