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I want to listen to you—the real you—when you voice your podcast. I want your voice to sound like the real you when I listen to your podcast. And so do your listeners.
The phrase “authentic voice” is very overused. But when it comes to the voice listeners want to hear on your podcast, your “authentic voice” is absolutely the right terminology.
But a quick caveat and a recognition that not everyone's authentic voice is a match for their authentic self. If the voice that comes out of your face does not match the voice of the person you are in your head, then please understand that I am in no way suggesting you get over it and deal with what you were given. No, I'm not saying that at all. If that’s you, then please continue to see a vocal coach, a speech therapist, or whatever is necessary to get your inner voice and outer voice to match as much as possible.
But if that’s not you and you’re instead just minorly annoyed with certain aspects of your voice, I have some very good news.
Perfect Voices Not Required In Podcasting
There’s a myth that I often hear repeated from clients or prospects worried that they don’t have a perfect radio voice for their podcast. I don’t know where this myth came from, but I can assure you that podcasting was never about and remains not about rewarding those who were blessed with or trained to have the perfect radio voice. Hell, even radio doesn’t only reward those with perfect radio voices.
Let Your Accent Accentuate Your Show
When I was a young adult, I worked hard to remove a lot of the drawl from my voice that I’d picked up living on a farm in the middle of nowhere. I knew I wasn’t long for that world, so I trained a lot of it out. You can still probably hear some of it. More if I’ve just spoken with a family member from back home.
But that’s how I felt about my accent. Plenty of other people don’t feel that way and lean into their accent, even if it’s heavy. For a good number of people with a pronounced accent, it’s part of their charm. For even more, it’s a part of who they are that informs how they see the world. And of interest to their listeners, how they interpret the world on their podcasts.
If your accent is a part of your authentic self, then I assure you people will be perfectly happy to listen to you on your podcast sounding the way you sound. And for those who are turned off by your particular accent… well, they probably aren’t the right listener for your show anyhow.
Quirky Voices Are Memorable Voices
Spend enough time with someone, and you’ll start recognizing quirks and speech mannerisms of theirs that are almost as uniquely identifiable as a fingerprint. Your speech pattern is yours. The aforementioned caveats aside; don’t try to hide it.
Now, that’s not to say you shouldn’t take the time to remove at least some of the “crutch words” you use when you’re nervous behind the mic. Natural uhms and ahs are fine and not at all distracting. But when they pile up because of anxiety, they can be.
When it comes to catchphrases or odd mannerisms that are uniquely you, I say leave ‘em in. I knew a guy who had a strange habit of saying “and” and “uhm” at the same time, so it came out “aim”. I piqued my interest as I was wondering if I was hearing it right. But after a few episodes, I almost looked forward to the wayward “aim” that made it in his episodes.
Podcasting Has No Speech Speed Limit
I talk really, really fast. As with my accent, I’ve worked hard to slow that down when I’m presenting. Maybe you think you talk rather slowly, and are working to speed up your voice delivery to keep your episodes snappy.
If that’s a conscious choice for you and something you’re able to do, fine. So long as you’re staying true to your authentic voice. But please don’t think there’s some agreed-upon “words-per-minute” speech rate you should be aiming for. Yes, there are norms, but those are statistical averages that have nothing to do with listener preference.
But even if there was (or perhaps is) an ideal rate-of-speech, you don’t have to worry about it. Because every podcast listener has speed controls at their fingertips. Listeners are free to speed up or slow down episodes at their discretion. So speak the rate at which you speak. Let the listeners decide if they want your words faster or slower.
Keep The You, Reject The Noise
While I am encouraging you to keep and embrace the natural “flaws” in your voice that make you uniquely you, I am exceedingly intolerant of fixable flaws in your recording environment. Those hardwood floors that cause all sorts of unwanted sound reflections to come back into the microphone and annoy my ears? That’s on you. Unless the recording environment is an integral part of your show, you should work to eliminate as much of the room noise as you can. That’s not the authenticity your listeners crave.
Neither is placing an omnidirectional microphone in the middle of a big room and having all your buddies shout towards it. I assure you no one wants to struggle to hear your content.
The noise from your overworked refrigerator, the roar from the heating/cooling system you’ve decided to sit directly under, or the whirring of air purifiers you could turn off for the 30 minutes you’re recording your VO parts… those noises are not the authenticity listeners want. They’re getting in the way of your authentic voice.
Yes, we want you to be authentic. But we also want you to have some attention to detail. If you’re serious about your podcast, I recommend investing in iZotope RX, either as a plugin or a standalone app. And then you need to learn how to use it, either by educating yourself or taking a class offered by Marcus dePaula. He’s a wizard who will blow your mind with the garbage you can remove from your tracks with just a few clicks.
Your listeners will appreciate you for getting rid of all of those fixable bits so they can really enjoy your true and authentic voice.
Authentic Voice Appreciation Homework
Today, like right now since you’re coming to the end of this article, I want you to reach out to a podcaster you listen to who has an authentic voice that you appreciate. No, not a super-polished, radio-perfect voice. Someone who speaks with their voice, warts and all, who probably would enjoy a note of appreciation for their voice. Send them a link to this article for context, and then ask them to do the same for another podcaster with an authentic voice to keep the appreciation train moving forward.
Do you love this idea? Great! Please go to BuyMeACoffee.com/evoterra and buy me a virtual coffee to show your appreciation.
I shall be back on Monday with yet another Podcast Pontifications.