There's a misconception in radio that those who have great on-air voices are simply born with them. While that may be true for some broadcasters, we'd argue the majority of popular DJs have their stellar radio voices because they've perfected them over time. Just like learning how to man a radio station in a technical sense, the art of speaking over the radio is a skill that can be developed. You've just got to know the ins and outs of how to do it.
Feel like your current radio voice isn't quite up to par with the pros? Below, we've got several tips you can use to help cultivate your radio voice skills. From exercises to mental pointers and even some technological tidbits, you'll come out of this article sporting the most gripping, unique, and polished broadcasting voice ever - we promise!
Don't Try to Change Your Voice
You know the radio voice everyone tries to emulate: that super low, smooth tone that several DJs put on in the 80s. You know that age old expression, "be yourself?" Well, if you're not being yourself and using your own voice on your radio station, people will notice. In fact, trying to copy that cliche bassy radio voice will probably backfire on you.
People can tell when you're putting on a fake persona. Doing so may make you sound weird, and worse case scenario, you'll lose listeners for it. With internet radio and podcasts being so accessible these days, the expectation for radio voices has changed. Audiences now want authenticity. So embrace your natural voice, however high or low in pitch it may be! Sounding different is a good thing, and if you keep reading, you'll learn how to bring out the best in your natural speaking voice.
This tip may sound like a no-brainer, but once a microphone is jammed right up in your face, sometimes natural social convention goes right out the window. Nerves can make us rush when speaking. Alternatively, some anxious broadcasters may speak too slowly...and it can be a real drag! Just remember to breathe and speak at a steady pace when you're on-air. Find the sweet spot for your voice - a pace that sounds conversational to your listeners. We recommend just recording your voice, talking a bit like how you would talk and radio, and then listening back to it in order to adjust your speed.
Diction, Diction, Diction!
Dot your I's and cross your T's! Diction is so important and always understated when it comes to developing a great radio voice. You want your vocals to sound clear and crisp, not mumbled and jumbled. We recommend doing articulation exercises before going into a recording session. Actors use them before performing on a stage, and we feel the same principle can be applied to broadcasting.
Going back to our tip of speaking conversationally - these days, you can get away with using some slang on the radio. But too much slang, and you may confuse your listeners. Alternatively, speaking too formally on-air can be off-putting. You don't want to sound like an old BBC broadcaster from the 1950s! Just talk as if your listeners were right there in the room in front of you.
Speak to Your Audience in the First Person
A quick pro tip: use first person tense as much as possible when speaking to your audience. Instead of addressing all of your listeners as a collective group ("Hope you all are doing fine! They are such a great audience!"), just say things like, "I hope your day is going well. Thank you for listening!" Doing so will really resonate with listeners. It's as if you're speaking directly to each of them.
Practice Makes Perfect
They only way your radio voice is going to get better is if you practice using it. Dedicate a little bit of time each day to articulation exercises and mock broadcasting sessions, and you'll have a spiffy voice in no time. Focus more on connecting with your audience than trying to have the most impeccable tone. If you're really dedicated, you could always seek out the help of a professional vocal coach to help you hone your craft. We also recommend taking public speaking, voice and speech, or even acting classes to help smooth the kinks of your broadcasting voice.
Choose the Right Microphone for Your Voice
Working on your natural voice is only half the battle of getting a great radio voice: the rest comes from having the right equipment and technical specs. It doesn't matter how great your vocals are, if you don't have a good microphone, your voice is going to sound very low-quality.
Condenser mics are typically the best option for talk radio. They're sensitive, but add expression and character to your voice. Click here to see some great microphones Live365 recommends for broadcasters. When using a microphone, don't make the typical rookie error of speaking too close into the microphone. (Or alternatively, speaking too far away.) A good rule is to talk about a hand's span away - from your pinky finger to your thumb.
Additionally, make sure to speak at a good volume. You can occasionally get away with speaking quietly, but speaking too loud will make your voice clip in post! Remember, a microphone's job is just to amplify your natural voice, so all you have to do is speak normally.
Use Some Audio Processing
Finally, you can use compression and audio processing in post to give your voice some extra flavor. It's like the icing on the cake! Compression and audio processing to your output can also help weed out unwanted background noise or feedback. It will make your voice sound smooth and clear.
"But what about live radio?" we hear you cry. Have no fear: you can also use the magic of audio processing even if you're not taking your recording to post-production. You can buy specific microphone processors to even-out your audio while you're recording. You can view our recomenndations for microphone processors - as well as other helpful recording tools - in this article.
That's about it for our tips today. We hope to hear your new-and-improved radio voice sometime soon. Happy broadcasting!
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