“I hate the way I sound.”
I hear that complaint quite often. Many people do not like the sound of their own voice. It is quite common.
It is also quite natural to dislike the sound of you own voice when hearing a recorded version of it in your podcast. When you talk, the bones in your head vibrate adding to the qualities you naturally hear. When you hear a recording of your voice, those vibrations are absent causing your voice to sound different to you.
The natural bone vibrations also make you do some unnecessary acrobatics with your voice when using headphones. The bone vibrations combined with the enclosed nature of your headphones cause you to hear your “big announcer voice” in a much different way than the listener hears it. You tend to speak in ways you don’t normally speak in everyday conversation.
There are six steps you can take to make your voice sound more natural and get you on the path to enjoying the sound of your voice.
1. Notes, not script
The structure you use when you write is much different than the structure you use when you speak. You use different words. Your sentence structure will be different. The flow of the written word simply differs greatly from the spoken word.
As you are speaking, use notes instead of a full script. You will sound much more comfortable when speaking from the heart rather than speaking from the script. The flow and structure of your sentences will be much more natural.
Make note of the important points to include in your podcast. Hit those points within your show without reading it word for word.
2. Talk to one person
You will sound much more natural when you speak to one person rather than a group of people. When I am listening to your podcast, I want to feel like you are talking to me. If you include a call to action in your podcast, you want me to act upon that request. If you are talking to a group of people, I can easily think someone else will take action and I can do nothing.
If you are speaking directly to me, we will begin to develop a friendship. I will begin to feel like I know you. I will also feel like you care about me personally. Your delivery will sound much more conversational and less like a lecture when you speak to one person. This will help you become more comfortable with your own voice.
3. One ear headphone
Your voice will sound different to you when you listen to your voice through headphones. The enclosed space of the headphones amplifies your voice. The sound of your voice is also changed by the audio processing. The bones in your head vibrate differently when using headphones.
To help you sound more natural, remove one ear of your headphones. With only one cup on your ear, you are able to hear your voice more naturally with the free ear. You will also hear your voice in the context of the ambient room noise rather than through the vacuum of the headphones.
4. Turn your headphones down
If you are wearing only one cup of your headphones, turning the volume down will also help you sound more natural. With a lower headphone volume, you will better hear your natural voice. You won’t be fooled by the dominance of the headphone sound.
Use your headphones to make sure you hear the other audio included in your podcast. Make sure you can hear your music bed, intro, guest and other audio. However, make sure your headphones are not giving you a false image of your voice.
5. Don’t get sing-songy
Speak naturally. Do not attempt to sound like other announcers you have heard. Be yourself.
When you speak like an announcer, you begin to stretch and emphasize words unnaturally. Your speech begins to unnaturally bounce. When you listen to your recorded voice, you may sound like a puky disc jockey or used car salesman on a bad television commercial. Both lack warmth. They are hard to believe. You will sound less natural when you use the announcer voice.
Speak conversationally. Use a natural pace. Don’t use unnecessary emphasis on words. Speak as if you are on the telephone. These steps will help your voice sound more natural.
6. Review your show
The best way to become a more natural speaker is to review your show often.
When you listen to your show on a regular basis, you will become much more accustomed to hearing your voice in a recorded setting. You dislike your voice, because you are not used to hearing it outside of your own head. The more you hear your voice, the more natural it will sound.
It is possible to overcome the dislike of your own voice. You simply have to take steps to conquer it. It will take time to begin liking the sound of your voice. Be patient.
Remove some of the annoying qualities of your speech. Use notes, speak to one person and get rid of the sing-songy pattern. Polish up the product first.
Next, adjust the way your record. Use only one cup of your headphones. Turn the volume down a bit to hear your voice in its natural setting. Make minor adjustments until you get comfortable.
Finally, review your show. When listening to your own voice becomes habit, your recorded voice will sound much more natural to you. Review your show often.
Let me know if I can help you in any way.
Tell the truth. Make it matter. Never be boring.
You bring up some interesting points. I think my voice is way to nerdy/high for podcasting, but I’ve come across other figures who sound similar to me who are doing just fine…so I may look into podcasting.
I say go for it, James! Try it out. You don’t know until you try it!
Don’t sweat the sound of your voice. The days of the “big radio voice” are gone. Most popular voices today sound like the person next door.
With that said, if you’d like to work on the sound of your voice a bit, here are a few things you can try.
First, stand up as you record. That will open your airway and help you project.
Second, speak from your diaphragm rather than your throat or nose. You will project better.
Third, place the mic about nose level. This will force you to look up a bit and again help open your airway.
Finally, drink room temperature water while avoiding soda, tea and coffee. It will help your vocal chords.
Jump in and have fun.
-Erik K. Johnson
I hear people say this too…especially back in my radio days. Guests on the show would always lament about how they hated their voice. A couple of additional tips if I may: 1. Make sure you are close enough to the microphone. Being too far back lessons the power of your own voice. 2. Add some compression in your final mix. It will give your voice a little boost and even out the uneven parts. Kudos Erik for another fantastic post!
Good additional input, Mary-Lynn!
Thanks, Mary-Lynn! Great tips. Post-production can always help. James, play around with the compression settings until you find something you like.
-Erik K. Johnson