Do podcasters or voice-over artists even need to do a vocal warm-up before recording? According to a recent study, your audio quality has a direct effect on whether your listener will trust you.
The study, conducted at the University of Southern California (USC) and Australian National University (ANU), concluded that high-quality audio increases the credibility and overall effectiveness of presentations, even by 30%.
Imagine a scenario: You are pretty excited about your new podcast episode – you are thrilled and happy with the response your podcast has received, and pretty upbeat about your work now. You stay awake for hours, late into the night, rehearsing the new episode. By the time you actually decide to record, your voice is already tired.
Still, you ignore the cues your body is giving you, and you set up your microphone. As you begin recording, your voice comes out hoarse and rough.
You realize that if you continue, you will not sound like your usual self!
So what actually happened? Why do you sound so bad?
Like many new podcasters, you were focused on planning and developing your content and ideas (which you should be) but gave two hoots to your vocal cords. As a podcaster, you need to take care of your vocal cords, just like singers and voice artists do.
With more and more listeners getting interested in podcasts, more podcasters are coming on board. This means that there is no room for error – you need to give your best to get more downloads and subscribers, which are the key parameters on which an advertiser or a sponsor will judge you.
Your voice quality is important when it comes to attracting listeners, vocal warm-ups and a good routine can really contribute to your podcast’s success. It is as important as the acoustics of your room impacting the quality of your recording.
In this post, we will discuss vocal warm-up for podcasters, as in the podcasting world, listeners recognize you from your voice. We will also talk about the ideal routine for a podcaster in detail, as maintaining a good voice demands some practices and change of habits in daily life.
How to do a vocal warm-up before recording?
The vocal cords consist of twin folds of mucous membrane located over your larynx.
Just like you need to do a warm-up before you go for a run to attain optimum, injury-free performance, you need to warm-up your vocal cords with a few exercises for a perfect recording.
I will tell you about a few simple exercises for a vocal warm-up before you record your podcast. Let me explain them to you one by one.
1. Body Stretch
You cannot have a relaxed voice until your entire demeanor is relaxed. Stretch those tensed muscles before you get to the job by doing a few side stretches.
- To begin, keep your feet hip-width apart.
- Raise your hands upward and take a deep breath.
- As you exhale, slightly lean towards your left and hold the position for two seconds.
- Exhale and move back to the center position slowly, and repeat the movement towards your right side.
2. Lip Bubble
Have you ever blown a raspberry when you were a kid? That is what you have to do in a lip bubble exercise.
- Place your fingers on your cheeks, close to your lips.
- Let your mouth and jaws relax. Then blow a raspberry without making any noise, and continue as long as you don’t break the airflow.
- When you do the lip bubble, add an ‘aah’ sound to it.
This exercise makes from a great quick vocal warm-up, and you may use it to reduce vocal tension as well!
3. Tongue Roll Exercise
Doing a tongue roll is similar to making purring sounds like a cat – yes, you need to roll your tongue and make that sound.
This exercise helps make that ‘R’ sound perfect, which many people do not speak clearly enough. Practice this exercise to master the rolled R or the trill sound.
4. Tongue Twisters
Clear pronunciation of words makes a podcast recording impactful. Hence, podcasters should practice tongue twisters five minutes every day, and as a part of a vocal warm-up. Want to try one? I have a tongue twister for you:
Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers
A peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked
If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers
Where’s the peck of pickled peppers that Peter Piper picked?
Other Popular Tongue Twister Exercises
- Unique New York, Unique New York, Unique New York – speed up as necessary
- A big black bug bit a big black bear
- She sells seashells by the seashore
- How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
Yes, you read it right. Since yawning is a great way to relax your throat muscles as well as your vocal cords, it is a great idea to incorporate it into an exercise.
- To do a yawning sigh, open your mouth like you do while yawning.
- Move your voice from the highest point of your vocal range to the lowest point.
- Do this a few times towards the end of your vocal warm-up.
It does wonder for improving your voice.
Effective 10-min Vocal Warm-Up
Do each exercise mentioned above for 30-40 seconds, and then move to the next exercise.
Do three rounds of exercises, and this should take you less than 10 minutes and make you ready for a recording session.
|Warm-up Exercise||Round 1||Round 2||Round 3|
|1. Body Stretch||30-40 seconds||30-40 seconds||30-40 seconds|
|2. Lip Bubble||30-40 seconds||30-40 seconds||30-40 seconds|
|3. Tongue Roll Exercise||30-40 seconds||30-40 seconds||30-40 seconds|
|4. Tongue Twisters||30-40 seconds||30-40 seconds||30-40 seconds|
|5. Yawn-sigh||30-40 seconds||30-40 seconds||30-40 seconds|
While a vocal warm-up preps you for the actual recording, I would suggest you make some habits a part of your life to improve your voice quality. Let me tell you about how to take care of your voice the way a professional should do!
The ideal vocal warm-up routine for podcasters and voice artists
1. Preparing your voice
Whether you are recording in the comfortable environment of your silent soundproofed home studio or working in a professional studio, it is important to keep your voice prepared.
An unprepared voice will be a waste of everyone’s time and effort. While it is important to do a vocal warm-up before the recording, the job of preparing your voice starts much in advance.
Once your script is ready, do multiple rehearsals and understand the pronunciation, tone, and the voice modulations you need to do. While rehearsals are important, do not over practice and strain your vocal cords in the two-three days prior to the recording.
Do not try to copy any other podcaster or artist. That voice already exists, and it cannot become your identity. Moreover, imitation will strain your vocal cords, and the stress of being like someone else will come in your way of giving your best performance.
Before you switch on your microphone, do a vocal warm-up and then start recording. I will elaborate on vocal warm-ups in the upcoming sections in this post.
2. Sounding fresh
Make sure that you have had six to eight hours of sleep in the night prior to your recording – a proper sleeping schedule is really important to sound fresh and active all the time!
Do not abuse your vocal cords in any way – that means no screaming, yelling, or excess talking. Don’t become overzealous and rehearse too much the previous day. Your vocal cords swell up and become red when you do such activities over a period of time. In fact, long term phonotrauma can lead to vocal fold changes that can affect your voice quality.
Few days prior to recording, avoid drinking chilled water or beverages – prefer water that is close to room temperature. What you eat or drink doesn’t actually touch your vocal cords, it has an impact on your throat. With proper hydration, you ensure that the mucus in your throat works as a lubricant, and you do not experience any dryness in your mouth.
Stay away from dairy and carbonated beverages as their consumption dries your throat and leads to excess phlegm. Rather, go for tea without milk, perhaps add a bit of honey to it – that’s the perfect drink to soothe your throat. As a podcaster, you will be recording at least at weekly intervals, so I would say make these habits a part of your daily life.
And if you like getting tipsy, I would suggest you not to indulge the day prior to the recording. Smoking is another vice that is detrimental to your voice. Try to quit smoking. It will do wonders for your voice and breathe control and improve your overall health too. However, go for a systematic de-addiction program rather than abruptly quitting, as the sudden change will not just cause withdrawal symptoms, but also cough and excess phlegm that will affect your voice.
3. Relax and speak naturally
Your voice can give away more than you think, especially when an avid podcast listener is wearing his earphones and listening to you with great interest. Let go of your inhibitions and thoughts while recording. Just like a good conversation with a friend happens when your mind is not muddled with too many things, a good podcast recording requires you to be mentally free and be present at the moment.
Relax your mind and do a vocal warm-up before you start your final recording. A podcaster is also an avid podcast listener. You might have a list of your own favorite podcasts, but are you getting unnecessarily influenced by any other podcaster? Remember to be you and speak naturally.
And yes, while it is ideal to have control over the way you speak and breathe, how you pause between sentences or shift the narrative – a newbie podcaster perfects his craft over a period of time. If you have no prior experience of podcasting – or for the matter of fact, any other activity that requires you to speak out to an audience – like radio, voice-overs, or public speaking – just speak with confidence.
Moreover, podcast listeners feel connected with podcasters as they see them as a genuine person who has a deep interest in what he or she is talking about – they are not expected to sound extremely commercial or perfect, but original and real. It is okay to sound like a normal person – as long as your communication is clear and understandable.
4. Getting rid of stress
Physical and mental stress is the enemy of a good voice-recording.
And the best way to get rid of stress for recording a top-notch podcast episode is to manage your stress effectively in day to day life.
Eat a balanced diet and sleep a lot. Maintain a good work-play schedule – devoting hours to your podcasting passion is great, but take out time to exercise! I personally prefer to go out for a long run to clear my mind – and let me tell you a secret, the exercise also ensures that I get a sound sleep every night! There is nothing better than a proper night of sleep to relax and rejuvenate your mind and body.
If your mind is cluttered or you find it difficult to concentrate on the nuances of recording, you can try practicing meditation for ten to fifteen minutes every day. Trust me, it has helped me to deal with the barrage of thoughts and focus on the task at hand. If you don’t know how to get started, there are many podcasts (obviously!) and videos on the net to help you with that!
Another great way to reduce stress is to have a good routine that will increase your productivity. Having fewer tasks on your mind removes a lot of pressure.
5. Getting rid of a shaky voice
For a person speaking into a microphone for the first time, a shakiness in your voice and shiver in your hands is common. It is natural to experience a ‘stage fear’ while recording your first podcast, just like it happens to a person speaking on a stage for the very first time.
However, a sophisticated podcasting microphone (e.g. like a world class Shure SM7B) can pick up the subtle nuances of your voice, so you need to get control over your shaky voice.
Unless you have an underlying medical condition (and most likely, that is not the scenario, I don’t want you to panic and jump as you read this!), stress, nervousness, or strained vocal cords contribute to a shaky voice.
I have already elaborated on how to deal with these factors in the above sections. When you are stress-free, relaxed, and your vocal cords are warmed up, a shaky voice should not be an issue.
If you ever feel in the middle of a recording that your voice has a tremor, take a pause. Inhale deeply and roll your shoulders. This small exercise can instantly relax the tension in your throat.
6. Helping your nervous guest relax
As a podcast host, you might invite a guest to your studio for an episode.
Many podcasters do interviews in every episode. Your guests might not be used to speaking to a public or recording their voice. A professional studio can also give jitters to your guest if it’s the first time for him or her.
As a host, you need to provide them a relaxed environment to get a desired output from the recording process.
- Do not overwhelm them with your ideas, explain the flow of the episode bit by bit.
- Explain to them the recording process in simple words.
- Let them know the right sitting posture, the distance they must maintain from the microphone, etc.
- Guide them through this vocal warm-up procedure.
- Make sure there is a bottle of water available for them so that they can take frequent sips if they feel dryness in their mouths.
Warm-up is crucial as it impacts the audio quality.
Improving your audio quality will automatically guarantee you will have a better product than the competition. With a better sounding podcast, you will grow your show much faster.
A better listening experience will result in more listeners. This, in turn, will help you to find sponsors and even monetize your podcast with greater success.
While the vocal warm-up opens up your voice for recording your podcast, a good routine ensures that your voice remains rich and clear for a long time to come. So follow these suggestions and record your podcast in a crystal clear voice and get outstanding results!