can me talk pretty one day?
October 10, 2008 3:38 PM   Subscribe

How can I improve the quality / listenability of my speaking voice? (for podcasts, namely, but in general works too)

As mentioned earlier, I'm moving into the world of podcasting and it's a pretty new process for me. I just listened to my own voice from a podcast intro I was asked to record and, goodness! my voice is... unpretty? unpleasant? It's just got a crackly grumbly nature to it. I have been told on occasion that I sound like I'm about to cry when I talk in front of people. This recording has a similarly unpleasant nature to it.

What can I do to make my voice sound listenable and pleasant? Smoother? and richer? It's pretty deep already, I think, so this isn't just talking "lower", per se.
posted by NikitaNikita to Grab Bag (7 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I think it's like the process of learning to speak a foreign language with a proper accent. Listen to a speaker you like and try to imitate them. Record yourself, practice, repeat. People have a great often latent capacity to control their voice.
posted by zippy at 3:46 PM on October 10, 2008

This is anecdotal, but I think that vitamins A and E improve the quality of my voice. Try eating lots of leafy greens cooked in oil for a couple of weeks. Drink water, too.
posted by stavrogin at 4:01 PM on October 10, 2008

Best answer: Feedback is essential. You need to listen to yourself a lot and experiment with different approaches until you zero in on what works for you.

If you are doing any recording, get a decent microphone.

Smile when you speak into a mic. It opens up your head, changes the resonance to emphasize more high frequency components, and even if you don't sound better, you'll enjoy it more! Really, you can hear it on tape. Smile.

Get some short, dramatic reads and use them as practice material. Read a few, over and over and over, and get some critique from others if you have someone willing to listen. Insert emotion, tonal variation, different volume levels.

You can also get a vocal coach. They are out there, if you look. Ask some decent choir singers in your community if they know anyone who takes students. Singing and speaking have some common elements. There are also several good books like "Set your voice free", you can find on Amazon.

Don't neglect timing. Are you speaking too quickly? How about color? Is there enough variety in your presentation? Enough emotion? What happens to your speech if you are excited, angry, depressed? Just some thoughts.

Really, though, feedback is the most importan thing. Tape will tell you how far away you are from the sound you desire. Change something and see what works.

Have fun!
posted by FauxScot at 4:22 PM on October 10, 2008

Speaking is exhaling, after all, so pay attention to your breathing. You've got to fill up the tank, as it were, before every phrase you utter. When you take in air before speaking, try to take in air as though you're filling up your stomach, not your lungs. What I mean is, you want to feel your abdomen expand as you breathe in, rather than your chest. And don't let your shoulders rise when you breathe in. These things will give your voice more "groundedness", more solidity.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:32 PM on October 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Concur with everything said above and let me add:


If you don't feel like wading into the parameters in Audacity, drag a finished wav to the Levelator and see if that helps make it sound better.

Also try some variables, standing vs sitting, slightly dry mouth vs constant water, etc. And listen, listen, listen.

Of course I am a music podcaster and hate doing the announcing, so here is a large grain of salt to take this advice with.
posted by spartacusroosevelt at 4:45 PM on October 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: A trick I learned from radio:

Wear headphones when you record yourself with the volume loud enough that your recorded voice drowns out your normal "internal monitoring". The trick is to get used to the sound of your own voice as the world hears it, and then evolve your delivery from there.

And also, as stated above, listen, listen, listen.
posted by philip-random at 4:52 PM on October 10, 2008 [2 favorites]

How about a voice/acting coach? Learning to breath well is good for your health, as well as voice.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 7:05 PM on October 10, 2008

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