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‘I can’t do a podcast, I hate my own voice!’

It may or may not surprise you to hear that just about everyone that has ever done any sort of broadcasting completely hates the sound of their own voice.

From radio presenters to news reporters to podcasters – it really is one of those things.

And y’know what? It’s fine. It’s absolutely fine. I mean it’s kinda strange that we’re generally all OK seeing ourselves on photos, or our reflection in the mirror, but hearing our own voice played back to us fills us with terror.

But – it’s fine.

What leads to me that conclusion? Purely the fact that I have heard it from so many people over the 20-odd years I’ve worked in the audio world. If everyone says it, then it must be normal. Standard. Just the way it is.

I do know it’s nothing to worry about. Yep, you think your voice is whiny or boring or too high-pitched or drones on a bit. But actually to a listener it’s just a voice – they aren’t as critical. And you get producers like me who can run all manner of amazing filters on audio to brighten up (or tone down) your dulcet tones.

Here’s the bit that really matters – while you may think that a listener will put their smartphone in the microwave to destroy it the second your voice pops up on a podcast, in reality, they’re not actually judging your voice. They’re listening to the words. It’s WHAT you say that matters, not the voice that says it.

We can of course do a bit of training on vocal techniques to help smooth out any rough edges (just the way that you sit when you speak has a notable impact), but podcast hosts come in all sorts of tones and accents. Their success though, comes down to their content. If you can engage an audience, or put a smile on someone’s face with your words, or tell them something useful or interesting, it’s job done. They will remember you for that, not for your voice.

When was the last time you heard someone say they listen to a podcast they find really boring, just because they really like the person’s voice? Or ask someone about their favourite radio presenter – it’s always who makes them laugh or smile or feel relaxed, not because ‘their voice is good’.

For several years I worked in programme management for a radio station group in Yorkshire. Every day I’d get emails from people wanting to be a radio presenter and asking to be giving a chance. Nearly every one of them made a fundamental error: they thought the key was about sounding like a radio presenter; sounding slick or putting on a ‘radio’ voice. That isn’t what makes a good presenter. Because strip away all the nonsense and you’ll realise that a good presenter is actually just a good communicator or story-teller. If I’m glued to the words coming out of your mouth, then I become your listener. You’ve engaged me – and that’s what sets someone aside from all those others who have ‘a good radio voice’.

What I looked for in a ‘demo tape’ (yep that’s what we still call them, after all these years) from a budding presenter is someone with something to say – interesting, engaging, who stands out from the noise.

It’s about the words you use and how you communicate with me. Not your voice. And podcasting is the same. Your barrier to getting started in podcasting should never be because ‘I hate my own voice’.

It’s OK to not know where to start from a technical point of view, or needing some help getting the concept right, or being unsure how long an episode should be – they’re all hurdles we can overcome together.

Don’t let the fear of letting finding your voice stop you from even getting off the starting blocks.

* If you’d like to set up a free 30-minute consultation to talk about podcasting (wherever you are on your journey), then get booked in and let’s chat (I’ll get you to do most of the talking though, because, y’know, I really hate the sound of my own voice)

About the author, James

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