Every so often mum would bring out the tape-deck, pop in the tape and hit the play button. After a bit of rustling, a high-pitched voice started telling the story of the Battle of Hastings. Of course, that voice was mine. Mum thought it was hilarious to share it. A cruel and unusual torture. Why? Because, like you, I hate my voice.
I was only eight when it was recorded, but I hated it anyway. Even now, I still hate my voice. I’ve narrated a few videos for my clients and each time they tell me they like my voice. I remain unconvinced.
You’re Not Alone
I don’t think I’m alone in hating my voice. We’re predisposed to hate the sound of our own speech. It’s irrational, and it’s normal. Embrace it and don’t worry about it. It’s worth remembering, the way you hear your voice is different from the way other people hear it. Your skull acts as a dampener of sorts which alters the way you hear your voice.
Your Voice is an Instrument
As a podcaster, you’ve got to think of your voice as an instrument. And just like any instrument, it will get better with practice. As your confidence and skills grow, you’ll find that your voice improves. If you don’t believe me, listen to episode 1 of a podcast series and then listen to episode 50. In most cases you’ll notice a significant difference.
Pat Flynn used himself as an example of this during his keynote at Podcast Movement in 2015. He was brave enough to play his first episode on stage, and the difference was ludicrous for those of us that know his recent work. It was a brilliant moment as he took the mick out of the 5 year younger Pat, and showed us all how much difference practice makes.
Top 5 Tips to Stop Hating Your Voice
One | Breaking the mental barrier
When you’re recording your podcast, keep your voice as natural as possible. Don’t ‘put on’ a voice. Talk as if you’re talking with your friends.
There is nothing quite so obvious as someone affecting a voice. It sounds false. Be authentic, and work with the instrument you’ve been blessed with.
Two | Vary the pace
It’s unusual to speak at the same pace for any length of time. Try reading something aloud and maintain the same pace. It sounds robotic doesn’t it?
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The truth is, we alter the speed of our delivery naturally. Find ways to experiment with your delivery. Vary the rhythm and your voice will become a more dynamic instrument.
Three | Dramatic Pauses
Silence can be a great asset for podcasters. A dramatic pause captures attention and acts as an audible exclamation mark. It can feel a bit unnatural but try it.
A presentation trainer from back in my sales days always talked about the power of silence. He also told me something that has stuck with me. “Silence always feels longer for the speaker than it does for the audience.”
Four | Vary the tone
Varying the tone of your voice is another critical aspect of your vocal instrument. Change the pitch to help deliver a more memorable message. I’m not advocating the use of helium, but subtle changes will enhance your delivery.
Five | Keep your sentences short
Keeping your sentences short and punchy helps create a natural rhythm to your shows. Long, rambling sentences are difficult to follow. They’re also difficult for your listeners to follow.
If it feels like “you’re going on a bit” – stop the recording and script that particular segment. Find a way to break it down into a series of short sentences.
Finding Your Voice
To start, just focus on one element. Maybe start by working on your tone, then focus on the pace of your delivery. To make it easier – use the following extract from a famous speech as your playground. Have fun. Try some different things out and record everything that you do so you can listen back.
Remember, the more you listen to yourself, the more you get used to it, and the more confident you’ll become in future. One day, finally, you'll be able to join the minority, and stop saying “I hate my voice” for good.
Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat
“I would say to the House, as I said to those who have joined this Government: I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat. We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering. You ask, what is our policy? I can say: It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime. This is our policy. You ask, what is our aim?
I can answer in one word: It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be, for without victory, there is no survival.”
Now he didn't hate his voice, did he? Have at it.
P.S. If I still had my ’Battle of Hastings’ script – I would have gladly shared it with you.
This is episode 1 of our series on becoming a confident broadcaster, titled: I Hate My Voice. To read the rest, pop over to the index at Hang Up Your Hangups.