There are so many things we can do to improve our podcast. We can buy top quality microphones and recording software, we could make use of services to edit our show professionally, we can invite amazing guests, and we can continually create valuable content. All of these will make a huge difference to the quality of our show, and can all go a long way to increasing our influence and growing our audience. But there is another way to improve our show that you may not have considered yet. This is because this “thing” is often overlooked for the part it plays in successful audio, and the influence it can actually have on your show’s success. This “thing” is your voice. I mean your physical voice – the vibrations-resonating-in-your-voice-box voice, not your metaphoric “voice” in the podcast community. We use our voice on a daily basis, but do we ever do anything to improve it as one of the tools we can use to make our show better?
Now you may be thinking, “It’s not my voice my listeners are tuning in for, it’s my content.” And you are right. But honing your voice can do so much to elevate your content and keep your listeners coming back for more time and time again. And while there are some voices that are just made for audio (can anyone say Richard Armitage?), we’ve got a few tips and tricks just for you to help you improve your podcasting voice, and help you make your show even more irresistible!
Improving the sound and quality of your voice really boils down to some simple do’s and don’ts. Up first, the do’s…
1. Warm Up Your Voice
Your voice box is essentially a muscle that requires a little warming up to get it operating at its optimum. There are so many resources floating around cyberspace to help you! From exercises used by singers, or those recommended for improving your public speaking voice, you’ll definitely find some great exercises to beef up that voice box and get your voice sounding great. Do these exercises on the daily, and your voice will become a powerhouse tool at your disposal to amp up the quality of your episodes.
2. Practice, Practice, Practice
Not only should you practice, practice, practice your new vocal exercises, but you should also practice the art of speaking and reading aloud. You can practice reading your episode’s content, but you can also try your hand at reading a variety of poetry or prose to help you expand the capability of your voice. You could start by learning how and when to place inflections on words, practicing your pauses and stops at marks of punctuation, as well as learning how to convey different emotions with your voice. Record yourself doing your practice readings so that you can monitor your progress as well as note where you can make additional improvements. You’ll soon have a voice that really makes your content come alive, ensuring that your listeners get hooked on your show, not only for your great content but also for how well your voice conveys your message.
3. Do Breathing Exercises
Consistently doing breathing exercises can improve your lung capacity and diaphragm strength which can greatly enhance the overall sound and quality of your voice. There are plenty of videos available online that demonstrate some easy exercises you can do to improve your breathing in a way that will improve the way you deliver your content. Do these exercises daily, and you’ll find your voice stronger than ever! You’ll really hear the difference in your recordings, and you’ll also find that you’re able to do more things with your voice, giving depth and color to your content.
4. Find Your Sweet Spot
Another definite “do” to get your voice sounding great on your recordings is to find your sweet spot when using your mic. For most mics, it is usually recommended that you distance your mouth around 5-10 inches from the microphone head, but you should do some test recordings at different distances to find where your particular mic gives the best sound output. You should then always aim to record from that same distance to give your episodes collective consistency.
5. Speak Up and Slow Down
While you don’t want to shout into your microphone, you definitely do want to speak with decent volume. And while you can adjust the volume during your editing process, if you adequately project your voice as you’re recording, not only is it one less thing you have to work on as you edit, but it will give your voice a naturally full, high-quality sound, which will sound great to your listener’s ears. Not only should you speak with adequate volume but to improve the sound of your voice, you should also speak slowly. Now, “slowly” definitely doesn’t mean boring and monotonous! “Slowly” just refers to a speed where listeners can hear each and every word you say, as well as referring to a speed that enables you to add the necessary inflections and emotions to what you are saying. You’ve put so much effort into “what” you want to share with your listeners that you should do everything to ensure that they get to hear each and every word.
6. Always Enunciate
Not only do you need to speak slowly, but you need to speak clearly. This means you need to enunciate each and every word. Part of your new vocal exercises might include mouth exercises that are designed to loosen up your jaw, lips, and tongue, and this will help you form your words correctly. We sometimes get lazy with the way we pronounce our words, and this can cause parts of what we say to get “lost in translation” in our recordings. But ensuring that each word is clearly enunciated will ensure that your message is never lost and that your audience gleans everything you share in every episode. Learning to enunciate will also help you add the emotion and color to your words that will really make your content shine.
For some expert advice for improving your speaking voice, Toastmasters International is a great place to start. They are a non-profit organization that equips people all over the world with effective public speaking skills.
Check out guidelines for improving your speaking voice can be found here.
And now to some of the “Don’ts” to avoid on your journey to improving your podcasting voice.
1. Don’t Rush
Don’t fall under the assumption that if you want to prove you really know your stuff, you need to talk really quickly. This simply is not true. What good is great, super valuable content if your listeners struggle to keep up? Instead of rushing, practice speaking clearly, pronouncing each word, as this will help you keep a good pace. You don’t want to speak too slowly, as this can also be frustrating for your listeners, but you definitely don’t want to rush through your content.
2. Don’t Stop Looking For Ways To Improve
Remember, your voice is like a muscle. It needs to be trained and conditioned to function at its prime. And just like you never stop taking care of your body, so you can always find something to work on in terms of improving your voice. Periodically, listen back to your previous episodes and look for areas that you can work on. You could work on where you take breaths, or maybe you notice that you use certain “filler” words more than you should (think “like” or “um”), or perhaps you want to learn to add more dynamics or “color” to your voice. No matter how expertly you learn to deliver your message you’ll always be able to find ways to develop and enhance your voice.
3. Avoid Bad Posture
Another “Don’t” is “Don’t forget to sit up straight.” Good posture is a really vital part of a great sounding voice. When you record, you should sit up straight, and open your chest. This will allow you to take full, deep breaths, allowing your voice to come out strong and clear. Conversely, sitting hunched over the microphone will constrict your breath, and can make your voice sound shallow, weak, or hoarse, which is certainly not the sound you want streaming through your listener’s headphones.
5. Don’t Forget To Smile
We all know how great it is to smile. It releases serotonin and dopamine, it can help relieve stress, and it even boosts our immune system!¹ (Who knew?) It’s also been scientifically proven that people can hear when you smile! In fact, it’s even been discovered that hearing a smile is as contagious as seeing a smile!² And while smiling in real-life happens naturally, it’s a practice we often need to cultivate in our recording process. As we’re recording, we become so focused on what we are saying, particularly if we are recording alone, that we often forget to smile. But just think of the difference you could make by sharing your smile across the airways! So the next time you record your intro to start your show, or when you’re sharing some feel-good content, don’t forget to smile!
As a podcaster, your voice is one of your greatest assets, but is often overlooked and underappreciated. While top-of-the-range microphones and state-of-the-art software can amp up the overall quality of your show, your voice is arguably your most important tool. It’s your voice that “sells” your content, it is what makes your words come alive and it is the channel that communicates your message to your listeners. Learning to use your voice effectively can add color to your content, it can breathe life into your thoughts, and this helps make your message memorable and more valuable to your audience. Put our do’s into practice, try and work on the don’ts, and no doubt you (and your listeners!) will be able to hear the difference it makes to your show. Your voice will become the one listeners turn their ear to, not only because of your stand-out content but because they simply enjoy listening to what you have to say.
1. Verywellmind: https://www.verywellmind.com/top-reasons-to-smile-every-day-2223755
2. ScienceDaily: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080111224745.htm