Being a radio host can be challenging in many ways. Communicating with an audience that you can’t see takes preparation and dedication. We’ve heard time and time again that verbal communication depends not only on what you say, but how you say it. Here are some tips and techniques to help you master your radio voice for your live broadcasts.
1. Warm up
2. Know your subject
3. Posture and breathing
4. Stay hydrated
5. Listen to yourself
6. Find your rhythm
7. Be confident
Warm up your radio voice
As a radio presenter, your voice is your most powerful tool, so you need to make sure you are taking care of it. Remember that your voice is a muscle. Like any other muscle, it needs to be warmed up properly before being used. This not only allows you to loosen your vocal muscles, but also reduces the risk of injury and voice loss.
But warming up your radio voice is only one part of the physical preparation. Your voice is not the only muscle that your use when speaking. Approximately 45 facial muscles in total are involved! It’s also important to warm up your face muscles, including your jaw, lips and tongue in order to help with speech and articulation.
You should spend at least 10 minutes warming up your voice and face. Here are 2 simple exercises that you can do in order to prepare your radio voice before a live broadcast.
Vocal Warm Up:
Hum on one note for one breath out, feeling the resonance vibrate. Extend the hum to sliding up and down a scale without strain. Repeat multiple times.
Your voice should feel warm and smooth after this exercise.
Facial Warm Up:
- Step 1: Place your palms on the sides of your face and slowly massage the jaw and cheek muscles with slow small circular motions
- Step 2: Continue to massage while lowering and raising your jaw
- Step 3: Add the sound – “mamamama” with a very light lip contact for the “m”
- Step 4: Change to “wawawawa” with very light lip round for a slightly distorted “w”
Your face should feel much more relaxed and flexible after this exercise.
Know your subject
It’s no secret, the key to successful oration is preparation! When you are comfortable with the subject at hand, you’ll find it easier to speak fluidly and naturally. This is why it’s essential to research the subject beforehand in order to properly prepare your radio show.
Avoid writing down your whole script and reading it, as your voice may come off as monotonous and listeners may find that your voice lacks spontaneity. Make notes of the key points you want to talk about in order to help you keep track of what to say.
Take the time to practice discussing the subject freely by yourself, repeat the main points you want to bring up during your show so that you’re comfortable repeating them when you’re broadcasting live.
Posture and Breathing
It seems pretty obvious, but don’t forget to breathe! We speak on exhalation, meaning, when we breathe out. The longer our inhalation (the breath we take in), the more words we can speak clearly as we breathe out. By breathing deeply, we can give more volume and force to project our voice.
Both posture and breathing are important. It’s physiological, sitting straight helps the air circulate. In order for your voice to reverberate, straighten your back and your abs all whilst avoiding pushing your chin forward. For a strong vocal performance, it’s recommended to use ventral diaphragmatic breathing. Take a look at the exercise below.
Breathe in through your nose for 2 seconds and feel the air moving through your nostrils into your abdomen, making your stomach expand. During this type of breathing, make sure your stomach is moving outward while your chest remains relatively still. Press gently on your stomach and exhale slowly for around 2 seconds. Repeat this several times before starting your live broadcast!
When speaking for long periods of time, we can quickly become dehydrated. This also affects the speed and tone of your voice. Mucus protects these vocal cords, and staying hydrated ensures that everything is working properly. If you are dehydrated, your vocal fold tissues may become dry and even permanently injured.
Remember to drink enough before your live broadcast, and keep a glass of water close by. That way, you can take regular sips to keep your mouth and throat from going dry. This will also allow you to take a small break and refocus yourself before speaking again. Make sure turn your head away from your mic when taking a sip to avoid any slurping noises on air!
Listen to yourself
It’s a known fact that hearing your own voice can make you cringe, however listening to yourself is the best way to know what you’re doing right, and what you may be doing wrong. You may notice certain things that could frustrate your audience, such as:
- Repeating the same word: for example, some people have a tendency to always start their sentences with “like”, or finishing their sentences with “you know”.
- Filling in the gaps: do you find yourself filling in gaps with “errrr”, “ummm” or “hmmmm”? Try and use transition words instead.
- Speaking too fast: if you have a hard time understanding yourself when listening back, how do you think your audience feels? Listening to your radio station shouldn’t be hard work!
Put yourself in your listeners shoes by recording a test run and listening to yourself so that you can correct these small things that could stop them from returning to your radio station. Most of the time, we don’t notice these things about ourself which is why it’s important to record and listen back!
Find your rhythm
Communicating with people that we cannot see can be difficult as 93% of our daily communication is non-verbal (through gestures and body language). It’s crucial that you speak slowly and clearly to make sure that your audience understands what you are saying.
Here are a few reminders:
- Intonation: In order to avoid a monotonous monologue and keep your radio show dynamic, your intonation is very important so make sure you emphasise certain words when speaking.
- Pauses: No one like radio silence, however you are still allowed to include short pauses in your show. This not only gives you a few seconds to catch your breath, but also gives your listeners a small break.
- Speed: Don’t speak too fast to ensure you can be understood by all of your listeners.
- Overlapping: If you have a guest on your radio show, avoid speaking over them. Your audience will have a hard time understanding what’s going on if multiple people are speaking at the same time.
Listen to other radio hosts to see what you like or don’t like about the way the speak live on air. The idea isn’t to copy them, but know what you want to give to your listeners, and what you want to avoid.
No one is perfect, but we tend to be our own worst critics. It’s completely normal to fumble or make mistakes every now and again, but rest assured, most people won’t be able to tell. If you do happen to make a slight mistake, just push through it as though it never happened, chances are no one will even notice! However, if you spend time worrying about it or letting your audience know that you made a mistake, it will throw you off for the rest of the show.
Confidence is key, so trust yourself, and also trust that your audience will be forgiving if you do make a mistake here and there. You’re only human! Plus, showing that you’re not 100% perfect can also make you more relatable to your listeners.
This may sound silly, but make sure to smile and have fun! A study from the University of Portsmouth in the U.K shows that a smile can be heard, even if you are speaking to someone on the phone for example. Your listeners won’t be able to see you, but don’t forget that they can hear it in your tone if you are smiling or frowning. This brings us back to the importance of warming up your face muscles too, as you will find it easier to smile for longer periods of time without tiring your cheek muscles.
So be sure to enjoy yourself during your show, as your audience will feel the energy in your voice. You know what they say: a smile is contagious!
Those are our 8 tips to help you master your radio voice! Don’t forget to take care of your voice, it’s your most precious tool as a radio host.