Before I launched my show SubscribeMe.fm in 2015, I was terrified of my Indian accent for a long time and probably wasted about a year overthinking it. And this was in-spite of having written books and recorded tons of sales and documentation and how-to videos over the previous 16 years. I was practically fearless when it came to everything else – including speaking on stage, dancing at a party, acting in a play (or even in TV shows back in India), being loud and demonstrative at a basketball game, etc.
But somehow, when I wanted to start a podcast, the intimate nature of me being in someone’s ears where they listened to me closely, the way I was listening to all of my favorite shows, terrified me because of what I thought of my accent.
One day, I had a client on a call – he was a podcaster and online radio guy – and he said he loves my show, that he loved my accent (when I sheepishly asked him about it) and that it adds a certain level of credibility to the stuff I talk about (digital marketing, WordPress, technical stuff, etc). And he added that he loved the authenticity of me not trying to fake anything.
I’m not claiming to be some kind of a big-shot or some major expert in voice training, but from having created about 200 podcast episodes on my 2 podcasts – SubscribeMe.fm and CutToTheChase.fm – and probably over a few hundred sales-, how-to and content marketing videos, here are some of my biggest tips for recording a podcast (and even to videos):
Make sure your Mic is turned on and you’re actually recording :-). Yes, I’ve forgotten a couple of times and had to re-do it.
Do a quick “hello mic testing 1 2 3” test, including recording about 5 seconds of silence (as in, you not speaking) just to see what’s going on in the background, then save that test recording and replay and listen to it to make sure the audio is fine. I’ve realized at times that I left my humidifier or air purifier on thanks to the quick test. Same thing if you’re recording a call with a guest on the other end – as your guest to do a mic-check, record, save, replay, listen. They won’t mind.
Don’t talk directly into your mic. Position your mike at an angle to your mouth, like 60 deg or so. Be sure to check the direction of your mic – not all of them are the same.
Practice breathing. I’m a mouth-breather (no Stranger Things pun connection). So be sure to practice breathing techniques. Breath deep to fill up your chest (like a sleeping baby) and not breathe only through your stomach (a lot of adults do this). Breathe out gently and the angle will help you not breath out into the mic (and also avoid the breathing-in sounds).
Breathing in is just as important as breathing out. I hear a lot of breathing-in noises (either via nose or the mouth) on many shows and it can be annoying.
Try to do a few sample recordings of your show, even if it’s not the same one as you’re going to publish. You’ll pick on all the little things like crutch words (“you know”, “like”, “so” – “so” is is my biggest one).
Relax and talk like you’re talking to a friend, if it’s a solo show. Feel free to laugh and sneer and cackle and snort and whatever you would do when talking to a friend. If you relax and have fun, you won’t have to worry about accent or pronunciation etc – at least not like me, with an Indian accent. And being comfortable with your own voice shows confidence and that you’re having fun, and that will help your audience as well.
There’s no substitute for just getting out there and doing it. Lots of reps. And getting better each time. Don’t hesitate to listen to your own episode, multiple times in the beginning. Ignore it if your own voice makes you cringe – it’s normal and happens to a lot of people.
If it’s a solo show, save your recording every few minutes or so. Doesn’t have to be one massive recording. You can record in bits, so that if something goes wrong (like your software crashing, etc, you won’t lose the whole thing – just the last few minutes).
Drink a beverage before and during the show, during breaks. It will reduce the scratchy sounds of a dry throat.
I used to record standing up for a long time during the first few years. It helped with the energy and excitement in my voice. Do whatever gets you hyped up a bit, or puts you in a great mood. Maybe some fast, workout music, etc. Smile and try to think of happy things as you’re getting started.
Slow things down a bit in the beginning. Talk as slow as you need to, especially if you have an accent, like me. It’s easier to speed audio up than slow it down, and it’s easier to cut content than it is add. And all major podcast apps and video players have a speed button to increase the speed. https://manual.audacityteam.org/man/change_tempo.html
If it’s just audio, people can’t see you talking, which means they can’t see your lips moving. So exaggerate your pronunciation and annunciation just a little bit. It’s very similar to acting. I used to be an actor
It’s OK to put your pen down, script it and rehearse it (yeah, deliberately made it sound like Missy Elliott lol). Because guess what? Some of the greatest shows and movies and events are all scripted. Saturday Night Live is scripted, which is why you can clearly see all the actors looking at cue cards even while performing. The news anchor is reading it off a teleprompter, although making reading off of a teleprompter and making it look natural is an art, and I wouldn’t recommend getting one for yourself. Your favorite movies and TV shows, even the ones like Friends, which were taped in front of a live audience, were scripted.
When you’re editing your show, there may be times when you go on tangents, that may have sounded relevant and natural and interesting to you while you were recording it. But listening to it later, it might seem unnecessary, not completely on point, or just a bit extra. If that’s the case, cut it out without prejudice. Making something longer is easy. Making it shorter while keeping the essence of your show, is harder. So making something shorter may be harder, but if it’s going to make your show better, you’ve got to do it.
And if you use S3MediaVault.com, you can embed your Audio and Video into any page on your WordPress website, whether it’s a public audio or video, or if it’s a private, premium Video/Audio that you want only authorized members to be able to access.