Radio Voice: Hot Tips to Improve It
To kick off this blog with a bang, let’s articulate what a good presenter’s voice sounds like.
- Natural yet relaxed.
- Crisp, clear & engaging.
- It intonates —rises and falls.
- It might be deep, and announcer like.
- Dead easy to listen to and understand.
- It draws and holds attention.
Stay tuned to find out about the number 1 way of improving your voice, and it's something you can start doing now at zero cost. Let's get started:
Radio presenters are performers. Artistic talkers, touché.
But without the benefits of stage props, musical accompaniments, facial expressions, etc...
They can only dazzle the listener by the power of their voice.
Their obligation is to express thoughts and ideas clearly.
Paint fine art with their voice. Take listeners on joyous adventures of pleasurable listening. Do justice to words when the call for sadness, passion, urgency, happiness, graveness, ugliness, bliss…
When they speak, you listen. You're drawn into their circle. Their words linger about your ears, not for one day —for perpetuity!
Why you should improve your voice?
“A workman is only as good as his tools. And a poor workman blames his tools.”
When it comes to radio presenting, well voice is the main tool.
Listeners can’t see you. They can't tell if you’re tall, short, a bit heavy, or light as a kite. None of that matters to them as much as your voice.
It’s like standing on the edge of a river, and you can see the listener on the other side. Your voice is the bridge that connects you to them.
All the wonderful gifts that you have to share; jokes, thoughts, casual observations, pieces of advice, knowledge, facts, etc; have to pass through the bridge to reach them.
Would you want a crappy little bridge constructed out of sticks and ropes? Some of your gifts will fall off into oblivion never arriving on the other side.
Instead, you’d want a nice stone bridge that’s wide and strong as the link between you and them.
The mechanics of the Human Voice Explained
Mechanics fix vehicles because they understand how the engine works. Similarly, your body has a unique, complex system that produces sound.
Do you remember the human anatomy from your earlier schooling? Here is a handy chart to refresh your memory:
How you produce sound
The human voice originates from the vocal tract. Three major organs found in the track play an important role in sound production:
When you breathe in, your lungs fill up with air. As you speak, air from the lungs is pumped out, past your vocal cords causing them to vibrate and produce sound.
You can also call them vocal cords, and you find them in the larynx. As an exercise, reach out and touch your larynx, placing your hand on your throat. There is a cartridge that protects your vocal cords, which for men, forms protrudes to form the Adam's apple.
The vocal cords resemble two folds of skin that vibrate as air from the lungs moves past them. Muscles control the movement of vocal cords and the distance between them. The size of your vocal cords and tension influences the pitch of your voice.
Any organ above your larynx that manipulates sound is an articulator, for instance, the tongue, teeth, lips, hard palate, soft palate, alveolar ridge, pharynx.
While sound originates from the vocal cords, the articulators convert it into clear and distinct sounds. They affect the clarity of what’s been said.
Among the organs in the voice tract, the articulators are easy to see in action.
- Say “K” and “G”. They are produced in velum.
- Say “Ooo”. And notice the position of your tongue and lips.
-Pronounce, “P” and “B”. Did you press your lips together and then popped them out?
Why your voice is unique
Why does every human being have a unique voice?
It’s simply because we are all distinct beings. Have you met someone with the same body size and shape as you? Even if it’s your twin, you'll sound like two different people, because you are.
What about impressionists? They just have the special ability to imitate the speech patterns and manner of speaking of other people.
Plus they can’t do it 24/7 because, while they can modify their voice tracts to produce the desired sound, that’s not their natural orientation.
The differences in how we speak are also brought about by the shape and size of the chest, the thickness of the neck, how the tongue moves, bone structure, etc.
The point is:
You can’t exactly sound like your idol. I for a fact know that I can’t sound like Morgan Freeman. But I can take advantage of the full potential of my vocal cord:
Enunciate words and put stresses on all the right consonants. Stop speaking like I’m in a 100m dash.
Get rid of pauses and stutters the “uumh” to become a smooth talker. Find ways to make my voice a little deeper, and more!
How to breathe effectively
Air is the fuel that powers your voice. So more of it means your voice will be more powerful.
Effective speakers fill up by taking deeper and longer breaths. Ineffective speakers, take quick and shallow breaths.
There is a technique you can learn to enhance your speaking voice, and it’s called “Diaphragmatic breathing.”
Your lungs are just spongy sacks with networks of bronchioles. Pumping air into the lungs is left to the diaphragm, which is a dome-shaped muscle.
When you breathe in, it moves down and flattens. When it moves up, your lungs empty.
So here are quick tips to improve your diaphragmatic breathing:
Your chest should not move as you breathe. Shoulders must remain very still and at the same level.
Relax your upper body as much as possible. Tension affects your vocals and breathing.
Place your left-hand on your chest, and your right-hand beneath your rib cage. Take a deep breathe in and ensure that your left-hand doesn’t move.
That, in short, is how you breathe effectively.
Proper posture is key if you want better voice projection. Always maintain a power pose.
For instance, if you’re standing, keep your back straight, eyes on a straight plane, jaw forward, and feet firmly planted on the ground.
In a seated position, resist the urge to slouch or slump back on your chair.
Lean forward conveying that you’re alert and attentive. Have a neat desk when interviewing someone else. Don't fidget with any item as you talk. Maintain eye contact with your guest or co-host.
If you’re using gestures, extend your hands beyond your shoulders.
Good posture improves your breathing. It gives you more power, diminishes fear, and it even leads to a surge of more testosterone, no joke.
You can damage your vocal cords
Okay, this topic is not meant to put the fear of voice improvement into you–but it’s great to have the facts.
You can damage your vocal cords if you abuse them by:
Too much yelling or talking too loudly – Obviously, shouting is not good for your vocal cords.
Smoking—It increases the risk of throat cancer.
Over straining your voice – Particularly, if you have a sore throat. Similarly, trying to imitate how someone’s sings or talks puts your voice safety at risk.
Vocal cords experience different injuries, including:
Voice fold hemorrhage – Bleeding in the vocal cords caused by too much physical stress such as speaking over loud music in parties, cheering in a sports event, etc.
If this happens to you, you’ll not feel any physical pain but your voice will be hoarse. Voice rest will help you deal with this problem.
Vocal cord lesions – It’s a condition, in which, non-cancerous growths such as cysts and nodules develop on the vocal cords. This condition develops as a result of overuse& misuse of the vocal folds or through direct trauma.
Symptoms include loss of voice, hoarseness, inability to hit certain tones, voice fatigue, etc. Some cysts are so large that it requires surgery to remove them.
Strive to get the maximum out of your voice. But it’s important to know that moderation is required.
Understanding Voice Lessons & Coaching
Someone probably floated the idea that you can improve your radio presenter’s voice by taking voice lessons, or did they say voice coaching, or was it speech training.
Let’s understand what each course entails.
It entails preparing singers for performances and auditions. The voice coach might be a singer, professional-trained voice technician, pianist, etc.
Several skills are developed including stage presence, acting, good microphone technique (distance & direction), choice of music, accompaniment, etc.
Voice lessons are geared at improving the technical and artistic aspects of your voice. Singers first start with voice lessons.
A good voice teacher in the first session, will identify weaknesses in the student’s voice, and plot a course of action.
So what’s improved?
- Vocal range
- Voice projection – The strength of speaking where the speaker seeks to be heard clearly and command attention.
- Blending of the chest voice and head voice for singers.
There are different kinds of speech coaches.
First, a content coach who specializes in the drafting of the speech. You’ll be instructed on how to structure the speech, research and create compelling content.
Second, a delivery coach instructs the speaker on effective presentation. They will teach the correct use of gestures, vocal technique, etc.
The third kind of coach may specialize in helping their clients market the speech, so the student can get paid when they perform it.
How to get a better radio voice
Becoming a better presenter sets you up for more opportunities in the future.
While you can’t replicate or steal someone’s else voice, you can make yours just as good or even better.
So gear up to learn a lot from this chapter, and the first piece of advice is to be a better version of yourself every day.
Now for the tip...you have been waiting for:
This is the best & hottest tip:
This is the best & hottest tip:
Reading guides and watching YouTube videos on voice improvement are commendable, but only you truly know your voice.
And frankly a lot of content you come across might end up not helping you at all.
Here is the secret:
And not just any kind of 'practice' you have to attempt, “Deliberate practice.”
Normal practice is often a mindless activity. For instance, you use your voice every day. So that could constitute experience & practice.
If you’re 30 years young, you might claim to have 30 years of experience as a voice user.
Deliberate Voice Practice
I will not laden you with more information, but I’ll tell you how to start doing it NOW:
Here are the requirements:
- Normal speaking voice
- Normal hearing ability
- A smartphone
Find and launch the voice recording app. On Android, it’s probably, “Recorder or Sound Recorder.” On your iPhone, the default voice recording app is the “Voice Memos.”
Later, try other voice recording apps. For now, what we have is enough.
Step 1: Stand or remain seated
Are you on your feet? Great, stand tall and straight with an air of confidence.
Still seated? No problem. Don’t slump back with your stomach forward. You’re making yourself distant. Lean forward a bit, keeping your back straight, and chest forward.
Step 2: What to say
A) Read a script or speech
We’re doing this exercise at this instant, so quickly find something with a sentence or paragraph on it, even an instruction manual will suffice!
If you’re on your computer, laptop or tablet, open any of these speeches/poems:
John F. Kennedy Moon Speech—Rice Stadium
Do not go gentle into that good night
We can boost your improvisation skills as we work on your voice. Choose a topic to speak on, for instance, your dream car, or what you had for breakfast.
Step 3: Start speaking & recording
As soon as you start speaking hit the record button. Speak for only 30 or 60 seconds max.
Analyze your voice
We're going to analyze our voice recording, and write down some things.
So, grab a pen and notebook. If you don’t have any stationery around, create a word file and name it “Speech Improvement.”
Next, playback your recording. Listen intently, and resist the urge to hit the stop button regardless of how horrible you sound.
Make notes or score marks under the following topics:
1. What did I do well?
E.g. My voice projection was great. I stressed words correctly.
2. What did I not do so well?
I spoke too fast and mumbled some words. My tone was flat and passionless. I had a high pitch.
Give yourself just 5-10 minutes from recording to analysis.
How to make rapid improvements to your radio voice
You know what you can improve, because you have listened to some great voice-over artists and presenters before, and can tell a good voice when you hear it.
Seek more help:
If you're struggling with diction, find more resources and learn how to improve.
By the end of this month, you should have a new, great-sounding voice.
Set aside time for it
You’ll break my heart if, at the end of this month, you’re still googling ways to improve your voice.
The best way to stick to this course of improvement is to block out time on your calendar for your solo voice practice sessions.
For instance, you can set a recurring event every day from 8:00 PM to 8:30 PM. Just 30 minutes will do wonders.
#2. Relax & speak to your friend
Studio environments can be intimidating, especially with a stern producer watching you through thick glass, guests seated across you, and listeners on the other end.
The pressure is real, but it’s vital to keep your cool and relax.
Tension is not great for your voice. Your muscles tense up.
Think of how deep your voice gets in the morning when your blissful, rested, and relaxed.
So how can you relax? The best time we are relaxed is when talking to friends we like.
If you’ve not made your co-host a friend and there is no one around the studio you particularly like, find something else to speak to.
Like your microphone…
Yeah, focus on explaining the traffic situation to your mic. Or picture your ideal listener back home, and try speaking to them as you would any friend:
- With energy
- With sincerity
- Showing them love
- Helping them understand
- Making them laugh
#3. Enunciate your words – Get your diction right
Slurring words, mumbling and not to pronouncing your syllables properly – are all pitfalls you should eliminate in your speech.
You frustrate the listeners because they can’t hear you correctly.
See words in their constituent consonants, syllables, and vowels. For instance, you don't speak. Instead, you spēk. So it's probably a good idea to look up some pronunciations in the dictionary.
The only way of getting your diction right is through good-old practice.
Practicing with tongue twisters is a good way to start. When you say words correctly often your lips, mouth, tongue, jaw and even your facial expression change.
You should try these exercises in front of a mirror to observe these movements.
Popular tongue twisters:
“She sells seashells down by the seashore.”
“Success sings success songs.”
“If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers where's the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?
The goal is to make each word distinct when you emphasize each syllable and consonant. And record each attempt so you can play it back and improve on it.
#4. Rhythm and pitch
Play your voice like a musical instrument.
You only need to add pitch and rhythm to the way you talk.
For instance, when you’re asking a question, your pitch rises. Where are you goING TO? What are you doING?
When you make statements, you generally want to avoid a rising inflection at the end, and use a downward inflection instead. For instance, I AM A Man. Not, I am a mAN, which comes off as if you're asking a question.
For statements or commands that end with a downward inflection, you sound more authoritative.
It’s also good to play with the tempo of your voice. For instance, slow: “My name is Winston.” Fast: “What is yours?”
Fast: “I love ice cream.” Slow: “But I....hate....funerals.” Implement some pauses also called strategic silence.
Similarly, reduce the pitch of your voice. Deeper voices are more pleasant, for instance, Morgan Freeman's voice.
Speaking of Morgan Freeman, his advice towards a deeper voice," is quite simple.
"Yawn a lot," he says, "it relaxes your vocal cords. And as soon as they relax, your tone drops."
Keep improving your radio voice!
And stay sharp with more blogs from CloudRadio.
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