I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. The COVID-19 pandemic undoubtedly brought fear, heartbreak, and devastation, but it also brought with it hope, creativity, and connection. In our separate corners of the world, we found ways to feel a sense of humanity with people far and wide.
Parents suddenly had nothing but time to spend with their kids, couples had nothing but time to spend with each other, and everyone sought new and unique ways to keep themselves entertained (and distracted). There’s only so much Gossip Girl I can watch.
One result of a COVID was the realization by people all over the world that with very little equipment, a simple idea, and the drive to do it, people could create content in the comfort of their own homes. Be it music, videos, or even podcasts, the world got to work.
If you’ve decided to take on what can feel like the daunting task of podcasting, check out these tried and tested tips recommended by professional voice actor and podcaster Will Rice.
The biggest tip of all? Do it. If you have something to say to the world and are thinking of sharing it as a podcast, go for it. No one will tell your story the way you want to tell it, and that my friend, is your power.
Podcast or not, you should definitely be doing this. But helping your voice get podcast ready is just one more reason to drink more water. Your voice is a muscle, or better yet a collection of muscles. And as such, you want to make sure that it is well lubricated, especially if you will be speaking for a longer period of time.
Drinking more water also avoids dry mouth which can increase unwanted mouth sounds like pops and clicks. Rice emphasizes the importance of maintaining a state of hydration throughout the day. Chugging a tall glass of water before you hit record won’t solve the problem. You need to continuously hydrate your cells throughout the day for this to be effective.
P.S. Coffee and tea are not water and are actually dehydrating to the body! You can’t skip your water bottle for an iced coffee from Starbucks and think you’re in the clear.
Because breathing is something we do day in and day out, we often forget its importance. As a vocalist myself, I can attest to the fact that proper breathing technique can take years to master, but that’s not to say you can’t implement some simple adjustments that will bring your podcast to the next level.
Here are Will’s suggestions:
Breathe deeper – focus on your breath and practice taking full advantage of your lung capacity. If you want to go the extra mile, focus on breathing with your diaphragm. Instead of your shoulders moving up and down as you take deep breaths, try and send your belly button away from your spine and then back inwards.
Shorter inhales – in speech, there are moments where we can’t get an entire phrase out in one singular breath. To have your sentence run more smoothly, practice sometimes taking quick and shallow breaths to allow you to maintain the flow of conversation. Of course, wherever possible, breathe deeply. But adjust as needed.
Check your posture – working from home, going to school from home, and podcasting home can lead to lousy posture. You might be surprised to find out that slouching over can obstruct your airway and prevent you from taking quality breaths. Focus on sitting up straight and clearing your airway.
Be quiet – Rice says that once you’ve made the first three adjustments, you should be struggling less for air, which means that you have more time and energy to focus on breathing quietly. Your mic is sensitive and can pick up far more sound than you think. Heavy breaths and gulps of air can become distracting for your listener.
Of course, a lot depends on the particular mic you will use but Will’s general rule is this:
Place your closed fist on your mouth, pressing your thumb and index finger to your lips. Extend your thumb and fingers and place your thumb on your bottom lip. Your mic should sit right around where your pinky reaches. This is the typical sweet spot that will allow your voice to be heard without emphasizing those aforementioned voice sounds.
It might sound ridiculous, but vocal warmups can be a wonderful tool to help get the most out of your voice. Will is a firm supporter of tongue twisters as they warm up the muscles of the mouth and voice and get everything ready to go for your recording session.
When checking your mic, do a soundcheck by recording a couple of tongue twisters and see how they pick up in your recording software.
Last but certainly not least, the most effective and thorough way to get your voice podcast ready is to listen back on your recordings. Be aware of habits your voice has; do you take unnecessary breaths? Do you speak at a higher pitch when you’re a bit more nervous? Do you get too close to the mic? Too far away?
All of these things can bring your podcast game to the next level.
These tips and tricks are of course guidelines and suggestions. Remember people are coming to your podcast for its contents; for your ideas, your opinions, your views of the world. Beyond all else, be yourself and have fun with it.