Most popular radio stations tend to have a fantastic radio voice behind them. Those having dull or cramped up sounds will lose their listeners to competitors. Even if they have great content, it won’t be enough to keep the audience hooked.
That’s why radio hosts need to be both prepared and dedicated in speaking to an audience they can’t see. A radio voice, therefore, tends to take a persona of its own. It can be so powerful that people tend to fall in love with a particular voice.
Just like beauty, a prominent voice lies in the eyes of the beholder. As humans, our verbal communication depends on two things:
- What we say
- How we say it
DJs and radio hosts aren’t the only ones providing voices heard on the stereo. Commercials also need to have a musically-sounding voice. For most radio lovers, they prefer to have a satisfying experience when listening to radio programs. Hence, talented radio voice actors are a highly sought-after breed in this industry.
Let’s first lay the foundation for quality radio voice.
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The 3 Pillars for a Great Radio Voice
When it comes to achieving a remarkable radio voice, there are three main pillars to adhere to:
1. Knowing your Voice
Getting to know one’s voice is the most critical aspect of the components. This element also applies to newcomers coming into the broadcasting industry. The newbies need to have a rich natural voice to sound confident in their presentation.
2. Get Acquainted with Your Microphone; Quality is of Importance
PC headsets aren’t the best devices to use on radio. They might be useful when talking to people through telecommunication avenues like Skype, but not in broadcasting. The sound design for headsets isn’t suitable for dissemination purposes.
Unlike in the earlier years of the millennium, microphones are relatively cheap and more accessible to secure nowadays. You can either go to a local electronics outlet or order it online. Whatever venue you choose, microphone quality should be at the forefront of the decision.
Utilize Audio Processing
Did you know that every single commercial radio station is using some audio processor? It’s true. The stations use audio processing in enhancing the vocal presence of a presenter.
An audio processor isn’t a tool only reserved for radio presenters. Other voice actors can also benefit from it too. When employed correctly, audio processors are a great way to add presence to one’s voice, while giving more punch to it.
With these pillars in mind, it’s time to learn about tips that can help in mastering your radio voice.
Tips to Mastering Your Radio Voice
To make the following tips memorable, we shall be segregating them into groups covering the same aspects. The advice will mostly dwell on the first pillar which is about the voice.
Here we go:
a) Practice your Radio Voice Regularly
1. Consistently Exercise the Vocal Cords
Vocal cords are a type of body muscles housed in the throat canal. Thus, strengthening the vocal cords will require a kind of voice exercise. The more training you do on your voice, the more it shall transform into a powerful voice.
When exercising, make sure to hit the high and low octaves of your voice range. To achieve such levels, you’ll need to choose words having specific sounds. It is essential to repeat the chosen words, hitting the vocal range with a well-controlled tension.
2. Regularly Articulate Words that Sound Difficult to You
Pronouncing some words can be a difficult hurdle even to the most learned person. Some underlying reasons for this struggle might be due to either a person’s accent or the rare usage of such words. Various people are coping with such a problem by incorporating synonyms to their speech patterns. However, there is a better way to tackle word embarrassments.
Do you look at yourself in the mirror before going out of the house to avoid little embarrassments? The same applies to the enunciation of words in public.
Therefore, go in front of a mirror and start practicing saying each difficult word slowly and correctly. Please do not mumble.
If you are suffering from an accent interference, try exercising with tongue-twisters. Make sure to use a rapid pace when articulating tongue twisters. Over time, your brain will learn to pronounce these words effortlessly and correctly.
3. Record Your Radio Voice Practices and Replay Them to Check in on your Progress
Have you ever heard of Confucius, a famous Chinese philosopher and politician living between 551 BC to 479 BC? Well, here is a famous quote from him:
“Learning without reflection is a waste. Reflection without learning is dangerous.“
Don’t just adhere to the first two tips above and assume you are improving. How will you know about the mistakes you make in your practice sessions? Listening to your recorded voice will help pinpoint voice errors and areas that need improvement. Furthermore, replaying the recordings over time will enable you to learn about the qualities of your voice.
b) Grow your Vocal Style of Radio Voice
Having an organic yet unique voice is a highly treasured commodity to have as a voice actor. Here is how to develop one:
1. Keep Your Voice Natural and Authentic
No matter what you’ve heard in your lifetime, it is impossible to change your voice truly. Even with the rapid advancement of technology, we are yet to attain a real-time voice changer that’s invisible to everyone around us. For those who purposefully try to sound too different, sooner or later the practice will backfire on them.
Therefore, instead of shooting yourself in the foot to try and satisfy a stereotype, kindly focus on speaking in your natural voice. Even if your audience changes in terms of age, religion, race or region, please don’t deliberately enhance your dialect to match.
Try to maintain the radio voice in an organic tone as you would in a normal conversation. Even if you are reading from a script, try to be relaxed in a manner appealing to the listener. Also, avoiding overly formal speech is the right way of connecting with listeners.
2. Purposefully Connect to Your Listeners
Listeners tuning into a radio station don’t just want entertainment, they also thirst to be informed and educated. As a radio voice actor, research is the backbone of your profession. You’ll need to informed on the latest news and any current topics of interest.
Be sure to talk about topics you think the listeners would like to discuss rather than talking about what you prefer. During the research, be ready to jot down notes and talking points. Here are other ways to determine the kind of topics to focus on:
- Observe what the audience write and call you about
- Check on trending information online to discover hot topics
3. Avoid Dropping off at the End of a Thought
It is essential to remain consistent in your line of thought. Don’t leave an idea or concept unfinished by trailing off-topic. Make sure you are expressing them dependably throughout the show.
4. Find Rhythm
The use of non-verbal cues, such as body language and gestures, constitute about 93% of our daily communication. Thus, speaking to unseen people can be quite challenging for radio voice actors.
Here are a few tips to finding the right rhythm:
- Speak clearly and slowly to ensure your listeners understand all that you are saying.
- Avoid a monotonous monologue by emphasizing certain words.
- Allow your show to have short pauses. Not only will it give a few seconds for a breather, but it will also provide the audience with a small break.
c) Warm Up Your Radio Voice
The voice cord is a muscle. Before using voice, proper warming up is essential. The warm-up enables the loosening of the vocal muscles in addition to reducing the risk of voice loss or injury.
The following tips are observable before or during a broadcast. For the first four guidelines, use them before the show. As for the rest, you can determine when best to apply them.
1. Relax your Tongue
There is a simple exercise to help your tongue relax while stimulating your breath and voice. Here it is:
- Hold your tongue at the roof of your mouth, behind the top teeth.
- Vibrate the tongue, while breathing out, in the sound of an “r.”
- Repeat (ii) above at various pitches
Warning: Don’t go past your voice comfort level.
2. Relax the Jaws
Warm-up your mouth by lessening the tension of your jaw. Use the heels of your hand to rub the muscles under the cheekbone. While massaging your face, press the muscles inwards and downwards while letting your jaw open on its own. Remember, the motion should be circular.
3. Hum and Buzz Your Lips
Humming involves exhaling in a light “hmmm” sound. The sound level should be at a low comfortable octave. Repeat the action but add an “ah” utterance to the second half of the exhalation.
Buzzing requires you to relax your tongue and vibrate your lips as you breathe out. Again inhale and then warble with your lips on the exhale.
4. Stretch your Voice During the High and Low Octanes
Start in a low octane using the sound of “e” and “oo. Then slowly move upwards to stretch the voice. Instead of forcing your range, take care to use gentleness to expand the voice range with each repetition.
5. Stay Hydrated
Speaking for long periods can leave a person dehydrated. Dehydration tends to affect the tone and speed of the voice.
So, what causes the dryness? It is mucus. Without the mucus protecting the vocal codes, the vocal fold tissues might dry up and cause permanent injury. To stay hydrated, drink warm tea or water with a slice of lemon in the morning and throughout the day but especially.
Below are a few more tips to adhere to during rehydration:
- Avoid dairy products and milk. They encourage a lot of mucus production
- Drink warm drinks rather than very hot or very cold drinks
- Eat a green apple or drink green apple juice. Green apples have pectin that helps combat phlegm
- Do not drink caffeine or a beverage with lots of sugar. They can have a drying effect on your throat
- Inhale some steam to moisten your voice box and to relieve your vocal cords
- Prevent your throat from drying by taking regular sips of water
6. Regulate your Breathing and Posture
Breathing is a pretty basic thing to do, but under pressure, the narrative is quite different. Be taking deep breaths without raising the shoulders. If need be, open up a window and let fresher air pass through your nostrils.
Furthermore, remember to keep your body erect and relaxed. Do not slouch your shoulders; just relax them. If you slouch, you will be exerting pressure on the rib cage, stifling your breathing process.
Extra Tips Often Overlooked
Before signing out, here are two more tips that seem obvious but some radio voice presenters seem to overlook:
1. Portray Confidence
Perfect is an arbitrary concept in this world. That’s why fumbling once in a while is completely normal. Even if most people don’t point out the mistakes, we are still our own worst critics. So, if you do make a slight mistake, push through as if nothing happened. There is a high chance that no one will even notice.
2. Smile Often
Studies are indicating that a smile is audible even if people are speaking through a phone. So don’t forget to enjoy yourself during the broadcast; listeners need to feel the energy in your voice. Hence, have fun and smile! A smile is contagious.