The best test of our microphone is to get the other person to verify things are working correctly.
But if we are the podcaster, our guests (or cohosts) are likely to be less knowledgable about what we expect to be happening with sound quality. So how can we get them to help us check, without having to explain needless details?
I’ve found one absolutely fool–proof testing method: Tap on it.
Before I start recording, I simply say:
Can you please tap on the microphone you think [tap tap] you are talking to?
I emphasize the word “think” and pause, and I dramatically tap on MY microphone before finishing with “…you are talking to?”
It’s magic. People smile. They see that I’m the sort of person who likes to check things and that makes them feel good. It’s also unusual to see someone intentionally tap on their mic, and that makes things more fun.
Doing this tests the really hard thing to verify: …is MY mic on? …and do they hear it? They have no idea what I should sound like. If I tap on my mic—which they clearly see me do—and they do NOT hear the taps… well, everyone makes a brief curious face, and I’m immediately alerted I have a problem on my end.
And then they tap on their mic.
Sometimes my guests know exactly what they’re doing, and they tap quickly, and we’re good to go. Sometimes they’re not sure, and we have a little fun while they tap on things “…is it my Apple Air Pods?” “…is it this little bump on my headphone’s cord?” “…Is it this little notch in my notebook screen?”)
I’ve done this little tap dance countless times now, and it regularly catches as many mistakes on my part, as it does tech problems on my guest’s part.