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Speak Up! – Your Microphone and You.

In any podcast, the audio is critical. You must make sure your listeners understand each word being said to them. Previously, I gave recommendations for good microphones that will help with this problem. However, technology is only half the battle. The often-overlooked aspect of clear and quality audio is the quality of your own voice. Anyone can speak into a microphone. However, if you do not speak clearly and quickly, you will drive away your audience. With my advice, however, you will know exactly what to say the moment you hit “record.”

This blog will act under the assumption that all your equipment is working exactly as it should so that we can direct our attention to the human aspect. Deep down, everybody has a “radio voice.” This is sometimes in modern-day referred to as the “YouTuber voice”. However, for those that aren’t trained or experienced in acting/voice acting, voiceover work, or radio, this can be difficult to find. The first step to achieving this comfortable and professional sound is to rehearse what you’re going to say. Lots of people take issue with this step because they want to “sound natural” and “don’t use a script.” These are not issues that stop you from rehearsing. Even if your podcast is mostly or entirely improvised, you can still warm up your voice and prepare your line of thought beforehand. You can practice discussing topics you think you might bring up, have a pretend conversation with the microphone, or even just talk to yourself, regardless of the topic, to get your brain and mouth on the right wavelength for the show. Speaking and thinking are very different things. Just because it sounds good in your head does not mean you can say it as nicely out loud. Talk to yourself, as weird as it might make you feel, or else your delivery will be doomed from the start. For every audio recording session that you want to do, run three tests beforehand to make sure everything is functioning as it should.

While warming up your voice, you should also have a drink on-hand. No one likes the sound of a dry, scratchy throat. However, for the long-term health of your microphone, it is recommended to drink only water while near your microphone. Drinks like soda or coffee can have a serious negative impact on the health of your microphone, due to the liquid spread by breathing into them. As well, soda and milk are not recommended to drink before recording, as they can have a negative impact on the clearness of your voice, if only for a moment.
As someone who is finishing up physical therapy for back and shoulder problems at this moment, let me remind you that posture is everything. Your voice exists because of air flowing through your body from point A to point B. Adding curves, blockades, or twists to that air’s pathway, by craning your neck forward or slouching your shoulders, will impede the air’s flow. This impeded airflow causes the quality, clarity, and force of your voice to be weakened, and can even make hurting your throat or lungs easier.

One of the biggest things that people new to recording audio struggle with is the positioning of the microphone. There are three types of microphone users. First, there are the people swallowing their microphones. This audio sounds awful and blows out certain sounds. It will be both uncomfortable to listen to and difficult to understand. However, it is also equally bad, if not even worse, to keep the microphone miles away from your mouth. Distant-sounding audio hurts immersion and reminds the listener they’re listening to some person talking into a microphone. Additionally, the audio is, of course, much harder to understand and often much quieter whenever the speaker is too far from their microphone. So how do you achieve the third type of microphone user, someone who uses the proper distance? Your microphone should be a few inches away from your face. No more than ten inches away, no less than an inch or two away. I recommend doing audio tests into your microphone before recording, the classic “testing, 1 2 3” works well, or your practice script for your podcast topics. The main goal of this is simply to see if you need to re-position your microphone. Some microphones require about eight inches of distance on average, like most lavalier microphones, while others, like my FIFINE microphone I mentioned in another article, are best used when six inches away or closer to your face.

With these tips in mind, you should be able to produce quality sound with any decent microphone. I will offer a few bonus tips for more niche situations, however. Make sure to keep long hair or jewelry away from the microphone. Unless you’re creating ASMR content, additional scratches, jingles, pop, and taps are unnecessary and uncomfortable for the audience. If you struggle with a clear articulation of certain words or phrases, or clear enunciation in general, consider looking into speech therapy with a speech pathologist. These professionals are trained to help regulate speech in anybody, helping them better communicate with others.

Are you comfortable behind the microphone yet? Even though it hides your face, unlike a camera, some people still hate the sound of their own voice, so they struggle to get comfortable while recording. Comment below on how the recording process is going for you! If you learned anything today or enjoyed what you read, please share this with your friends so we can all be a little bit smarter and nerdier together! As always, I’d also appreciate comments and suggestions from you! If there’s anything you’d like to see in a future post here, let me know!

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