Have you ever listened to a podcast and found that the host’s voice sounded like it was recorded from a tin can, there was no character to their voice, and they just sounded bored? Or, maybe the host was just too soft spoken, so you had to strain to catch those amazing nuggets of wisdom. Or perhaps, you love the content they’re laying down, but there’s just something about the way they deliver it that doesn’t gel with you. Maybe they say “like” too often, they smack their lips, or clear their throat and it just grates your nerves? Either way, this is not an enjoyable experience for listeners. (And I’m willing to bet that those shows did not make it onto your list of favorites!)
Podcasting is all about connecting with your audience. Yes, a lot of this connection has to do with the content you’re sharing, but how you deliver that content is what is going to keep listeners coming back for more. And that how is your voice…
Today, we’re sharing some simple tips on how to improve your podcast voice and make sure everyone hangs on every word say!
But before we get into the tips that focus on improving your voice, we’ve got two bonus tips that need to be addressed:
1. Quality Equipment Matters
First off, check your equipment! Your voice can be as smooth as whiskey, but if you have subpar equipment, it won’t carry across the airwaves in a way that captivates your audience. You certainly don’t need the top of the range mic or state-of-the-art headphones, but the quality of your equipment certainly does matter!
For a break down of podcasting equipment and costs, check out this post.
Once you have the tools of the trade, you’ll need to do a little tinkering to make sure they’re set up to work and deliver at their optimum. And you can always look at adding a shock mount or pop filter to your toolkit to really take the quality of your recordings to the next level.
2. Your Environment Matters
Your recording location can actually have a massive impact on the final sound quality of your recording. Choosing the right location can also make your editing job much easier! If you’re finding a spot in your home to record in, the best rooms in a house for recording are the ones that are carpeted, have curtains on the windows, and have a fair amount of furniture in the room.
You should also try to pick a room that receives the least amount of outside noise from things like traffic, birds, construction, etc., to prevent these from disrupting your recording. This, in conjunction with your equipment and software, will result in clean, crisp audio for every podcast episode.
And now, onto those tips focused on helping you perfect your podcasting voice…
3. Get Used to Your Voice
If you want to improve your podcasting voice, you need to get real comfortable with the sound of your voice! Something which is easier said than done! How many of us hear our voice on a recording and think, “That’s what I sound like?!! Turn that off!” But, if you’re wanting to improve your podcasting voice, you’re going to have to get comfortable with the sound of your voice! So make a habit of recording yourself reading aloud, running through your content, or just talking to yourself as you’re driving or going about your house chores. Listen back to these so you become more familiar and at ease with how you sound on recordings.
(Want to know why we often hate the sound of our own voices? Check out this episode of the Ask We Edit Show – Andrew has some insights!)
NOTE: This can also be a two-folded exercise. When you listen back to these casual recordings, take note of some of things you’d like to change or improve when it comes to your voice. From here, you can find the strategies that address these areas.
Which brings us to Tip #4…
4. Practice…a Lot!
Improvement in any discipline comes through diligent practice, and improving your podcasting voice is no different.
Practicing reading aloud can really help you add color and dynamics to your recordings. You can learn how and when to place inflections on words, practice 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.
5. Train Those Vocal Cords
Your voice box is really just a muscle that requires a little warming up to get it operating at its optimum. So it follows that you can do some simple vocal exercises to help you improve your voice. From exercises used by singers, or those recommended for improving your public speaking voice, you’ll definitely find some great exercises on places like YouTube 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.
6. Seek Professional Help
You could also look at professional guidance for improving your voice and delivery. Joining organizations like Toastmasters will give you great opportunity to practice your delivery. Joining an amateur drama club or something similar can also help you improve your podcasting voice immensely by teaching you how to deliver text with the right emotion. You could even find a vocal coach who can give you the guidance you need to strengthen and develop your vocal cords, use your diaphragm correctly, and teach you how to breathe correctly for when you’re speaking.
And while the above may sound like odd advice for improving your podcast, if you think of podcasting as an art form or as your craft, finding unique, focused ways to improve something that helps you create a better podcast will make more sense.
7. Stay Hydrated
A very simple way to get your voice sounding stellar at all times is to keep hydrated. So make sure you have water on hand before speaking in order to avoid a dry mouth or scratchy vocal cords. In general, try to drink your recommended water quota each day (usually around 2 liters) but it is also important to keep water on hand whenever you sit down to record. This is just another simple, but really effective way to keep your voice podcasting ready at all times!
8. Focus on Breathing
Focusing on your breathing can also greatly improve the quality of your voice. Using proper breathing techniques will improve your air flow and can help you project your voice better.
Consistently doing breathing exercises can improve your lung capacity and diaphragm strength which can greatly enhance the overall sound and quality of your voice. 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.
9. Avoid Mono…
…tone, that is! There is not much worse on a podcast than a monotone host! A monotonous voice will quickly squelch any excitement and anticipation your listener may have had as they hit “play” on one of your episodes.
So, what can you do if you discover you do have a case of the mono(tone)? Amp up your excitement levels when it comes time to record! You actually often have to be overly enthusiastic when you’re recording, as audio has a way of making you sound “flat” no matter how excited you are for your latest episode. So you’ve really got to bring the energy to your recordings for it to translate well to your episodes.
10. Pace Yourself
Every time you hit record, it’s important that you remind yourself to always speak clearly and slowly. Remember, you’ve worked hard on your content, and spent a lot of time crafting each episode. Don’t sell it short by whizzing through your content at whiplash-inducing speed!
Make a mental note as you record to keep your pace steady. And if you struggle to keep this steady pace – you just get too excited and your speaking pace follows suite – you could even put up an actual note wherever you record to remind you to slow it down!
11. Take breaks
You may also find that an easy way to keep your voice at it’s prime is to take some breaks during your recording sessions. So when your voice feels tired, hoarse, or scratchy, take a break – don’t force yourself to speak for extended periods of time without any rests in between.
12. Pay Attention to Vocal Bad Habits
Are there any other sounds you make that might be distracting to the listener? Do you smack your lips or habitually clear your throat? Perhaps you tend to say “um” as you start a new thought? Or slip a couple “like”s into your sentences? Then you’re (also!) guilty of some bad vocal habits!
Now, these are not too serious during everyday conversation, but they can be very frustrating, and ultimately, could even be off-putting to podcast listeners. So you need to make a conscious effort to work on reducing those. Your listeners will thank you and your podcast will be greatly improved.
13. Find Your Mic’s Sweet Spot
You’ve invested in your quality equipment, but now you need to use it correctly in order for it consistently help your voice sound it’s best. And this means finding your mic’s sweet spot. 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. Find that sweet spot, and your voice will always be heard loud and clear.
14. Watch Your Posture
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.
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 Amazing right? And in even better news, it takes way less muscles to pull off a contagious smile than it does a frown! But while we’re concentrating on delivering our content at the right pace, sitting up straight and the right amount of space away from our microphones, on top of trying to avoid falling back into bad vocal habits, smiling is often the last thing we’re doing! While smiling in real-life happens naturally, it’s a practice we often need to cultivate in our recording process. So practice showing those pearly whites while you record today, and you’ll hear the improvement on your next episode.
Your voice is often overlooked when it comes to improving your podcast. But in reality, it is one of your biggest assets in helping you really connect your content with your listeners. The bottom line is that the quality of your voice can have a big impact on how well-received your message is!
And thankfully, there are simple ways you can improve your voice for better sounding podcasts! Applying these simple tips will give you better command over your voice, and will enable you to create a podcast that delivers – both in terms of content, and as well entertainment value! Learn how to use your voice well, and you’ll have laid another cornerstone in making your podcast the best that it can be!