Anyone who records his own voice for the first time feels shocked to hear it. No matter how much you deny, or try to change it, this is how you sound to the world. If you find it difficult to get over the sound of your own voice, this post is just for you. I will explain why it happens and what you can do to cope with it.
How it all usually starts
You are really excited about your first podcast. You have worked hard for it! Countless hours were poured into research, and you took pains to find your first guests and schedule interviews, etc. After multiple rehearsals, you switched on the microphone and recorded the first episode. And when you heard the recording, you were horrified.
It doesn’t sound like you!
This is not you!
Is something wrong with the microphone?
If this has been your reaction to listening to your recorded voice for the very first time, don’t worry.
You are not alone in this.
Why do I sound different in my recording?
When I record my voice, I sound different to myself. When I hear myself speaking, it is not the same as how others find my voice. The answer to why this happens lies in how the ear transmits sound to your brain.
When you are speaking, you hear your voice through a combination of two methods:
- The first one, as mentioned above, is air conduction.
- The second one is the transfer of sound waves created by the vocal cords by the bones and tissues in the head.
Sounds from external sources are transmitted only via air conduction.
So this is how you hear yourself when you are speaking on your podcast. That’s why your voice sounds different to you than what it does to other people.
The tissues enhance the low frequencies, so your own voice sounds deeper to you than the reality. When you hear it on the recording, you will find it a bit weak or high pitched. But believe it or not, the latter is your actual voice!
Other reasons to dislike your voice we all share
If you are a new podcaster or voice over artist, you may have a perception of how you speak. But listening to yourself on recording might burst your bubble, and now it’s difficult for you to get over the sound of your own voice. Let’s review some reasons why.
You speak too fast
It’s difficult for us to assess our own speech’s nuances unless we listen to our recorded voice.
You want to replicate successful podcasters and broadcasters, but you haven’t practiced enough. You jumped straight away to recording the final podcast, without assessing your voice. And then you realized that the voice-over is too rushed.
Lack of confidence
If you are nervous while recording your podcast, it shows through your voice. Rather than sounding conversational and definite, your statements would sound like questions!
Your voice will be shaky, and there might be unnecessary pauses or too many ‘uuhhh’s and ‘ummm’s.
You need to eliminate your vocal inflection.
Wrong pronunciation of words
You may have a rich vocabulary, and you made sure that your script reflects that. But some words may be difficult to pronounce in the flow. The same goes for overly complicated sentences. Sentences that may be great to read and reflect a person’s flair for writing may not necessarily sound the best on a podcast.
You are not breathing from your diaphragm
When your breathing pattern is poor, you can easily run out of breath while recording. Good breathing techniques, like breathing from the diaphragm, ensure that you don’t run out of breath while recording and give you a louder voice.
You have not done vocal warm-ups
Like you need to stretch your body before working out, you need to do vocal warm-ups before recording. Without vocal warm-ups, it is difficult to use the complete range of your voice.
You sound too scripted
It sounds like you are simply reading from your script. This happens with a lot of new podcasters. While having a script is necessary, sounding scripted is horrible.
You constantly wonder what others would think of your voice
You cannot get over the sound of your own voice, and you feel that you might be judged for it. That makes you think others won’t like it too. If you feel this way, it’s difficult to record a podcast that sounds cheerful or spontaneous.
How to get over the sound of your own voice – 8 steps for podcasting, YouTube, streaming, etc.?
Here is an effective 8 step program that can quickly help you to get over the way you sound.
1. Learn the nuances of speaking for a public
Listen to some good podcasters, radio show hosts, or speeches of famous orators. Observe how they speak – how many words per minute, when they pause, and how they transition from one point to another.
Also, observe the elements of the script and the emotions reflected in their voices.
A common observation is that they usually start on a cheery note and end the oration on a very confident point.
2. Be confident
Get over the sound of your own voice and believe in yourself. Confidence is necessary for a clear, unwavering voice.
When I record a podcast, I am not supposed to be thinking about what my voice sounds like, but how I speak, record my script, modulate my voice, or conduct an interview.
If you have devoted some of your grey matter to obsess about your voice, please undo that. Next, re-allocate them to feel happy about yourself.
Try to minimize mental and physical stress in your life. A stressed voice would definitely sound weak and tired. Take a full night’s sleep before the actual recording to sound fresh. Sophisticated microphones catch the subtle nuances of your voice, so these things really do matter! Avoid getting sloshed the previous day before recording, as we don’t want to listen to your hang-over voice either.
3. Write short sentences in your scripts
Structuring your sentence to suit oral communication can help you to get over the sound of your own voice.
Don’t write too long sentences. You are not an actor performing Shakespeare’s work in a theatre. The language needs to be crisp and lucid. Write shorter sentences and leave no room for ambiguity.
Shorter sentences are also easy to speak conversationally; you won’t take abrupt pauses or run out of breath while recording. Make sure the script matches the intended show duration. You won’t have to speak too fast to squeeze the script into a shorter duration, and you are less likely to mispronounce words.
4. Use a clear language
Avoid having too many flowery words that you might end up pronouncing incorrectly, and the meaning might not be apparent to the listeners. Your goal is efficient communication, not making listeners pick up a dictionary or use a search engine. If you still have any such words in the script, do check their phonetics beforehand and speak them correctly.
Practice proper breathing techniques
By incorporating proper breathing techniques, you can ensure that you don’t run out of breath while recording. Moreover, your sound will be loud and clear too. One very useful breathing technique is diaphragmatic breathing; let me explain how to put it in practice.
- Stand in front of a mirror, and place your hand on your midriff (the area just below your chest).
- Pull your tummy in slowly and breathe out – do it slowly, don’t rush it.
- Now do the opposite to inhale. Pull your tummy outwards slowly, and breathe in from your mouth simultaneously.
- Repeat this a few times to get comfortable.
Put it into practice while rehearsing your script and at the time of actual recording. Improvement in breathing will make you sound better and speak well, and it would be easier to get over the sound of your own voice.
For some people, it is easier to sound more powerful when they record standing. Others feel more relaxed and comfortable when they record sitting. Observe yourself, check the benefits of recording standing or sitting, and pick the best approach for you.
5. Practice, practice, and practice
To get over the sound of your own voice, it is suggested to listen to it over and over again. Not just you would get used to it, if at all there are any imperfections, you can observe them and correct them.
Many podcasters read the script multiple times before recording, but they are not speaking it aloud.
In order to practice effectively, read out the script aloud. Everything that you have learned about speaking and narration – style, speed, breathing pattern – practice them here while speaking your script.
Use your cell phone to record and listen to your rehearsals. This will let you monitor your progress realistically. You can also ask a friend or family to listen to you rehearse and give suitable feedback.
While practice is important, don’t over-strain your voice.
6. Do vocal warm-ups
Vocal cords are twin folds of mucous membrane located over your throat. Before you start recording, it is ideal for exercising them so that you can use them to full capacity. The exercises also warm up the diaphragm and associated muscles, which is good for a perfect recording.
Lip trills, yawn-sigh, tongue twisters are some easy to do vocal warm-ups. Learn them and make them a part of your recording routine to get the best results.
7. Adopt good habits
A good routine and a healthy life can actually improve your voice.
Don’t consume chilled beverages as they dry your throat. If you smoke, it is advisable to quit. Crumpling up this habit can bring remarkable changes in your voice and your breath control. If you stop smoking abruptly, you will suffer from a cough and excess phlegm. So it is better to enroll in a systematic de-addiction program.
8. Be patient
It takes time to become perfect. This is just your first time recording your voice, and that is why you are struggling to get over the sound of your own voice. Even highly successful podcasters were once newcomers like you! They improved their work over a period of time. Over a while, your speaking skills will improve, and so will your content. You won’t bother more about your voice, and would rather enjoy the podcasting process.
Don’t think how others perceive you- While podcasting does intend to impress and captivate listeners, you should not be overly conscious. Focus on your content and your delivery. Do your best and compete against yourself. Avoid emulating other podcasters. People won’t come to you if you are a copy of someone else.
While listening to your own recorded voice might not appeal to you, that is not what others might think. So stop harping about it and work on the aspects that are actually under your control- your research, bringing great guests, your speaking style, promotions, listener’s engagement, etc.
The final step to get over the sound of your own voice is to accept things as they are. That’s because the voice you are unable to accept is what everyone else has been listening to all your life.
Yes, you have to plan, strategize, and work hard on your podcast. But podcasting must be fun, and you should feel happy to do it. If your voice is making you unhappy, it’s time to make amends. Figure out what you don’t like about it. If it’s just how it sounds to you, you need to get over the sound of your own voice. Accept your real voice.
If it’s about how you speak, you can understand what needs to be change and practice regularly. You will soon get results that will satisfy you, and your voice won’t feel annoying to you anymore.
Also, it’s important to remember what listeners expect from you. Listeners don’t expect podcasters to sound commercial or perfect; they want them to sound genuine and credible. They are happy to listen to folks whose voices are more like them. So sit back and relax, work on what’s important, and keep your audience happy.
And how did you manage to overcome the strangeness of the sound of your voice?