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How Do You Keep Your Voice Healthy for Podcasting? Vocal Health Session at PodCamp London

By Stephanie Ciccarelli

April 26, 2009

Comments (6)

PodCamp London LogoLearn how to take care of your voice, engage in a vocal warmup, speak clearly and become more confident behind the microphone.

Discover how you can improve your voice over technique and achieve a personal best with regard to vocal performance.

Your audience will thank you!

PodCamp London

Yesterday, I presented at PodCamp London and am eager to share the contents of my session with you!

The topic was "Content is King But Voice is Queen".

During my session, those in attendance heard an abbreviated, but substantial, version of what I have blogged about in today's article.

My audience was a group of podcasters, however, I think you'll find a great deal of value in this as voice over professionals or public speakers.

Content is King...

When you're trying to reach an audience, the most important aspect of your presentation is your content.

As a podcaster, you have the responsibility to:

- Research topics
- Create quality content
- Be prepared

...but Voice is Queen

Why would I say that voice is queen? Why not audio production skills or something else?

- Your voice communicates the message
- Makes creative choices when interpreting copy
- Voices connect with people on a deep, human level

These Pipes Were Made for Talkin'

- The human voice has been used for thousands of years to communicate
- It's the most effective way of engaging another person
- When talking, realize that it's not all talk, it's social engagement

Know And Love Your Voice

By now, I'm sure you've realized just how singularly important it is to keep your voice safe, after all, without it, podcasting would be incredibly difficult. How many of you take care of your voice, I mean, really treat it well? Like most things, before you can meet its needs, you need to have a relationship and understanding of how your voice works and how you can protect your asset.

Caring For The Voice

Your voice is so delicate. It's not something you can turn on or off by flicking a switch. It's also not something that you can carry in a bag or download on the Internet. Simply put, your voice is with you at all times and cannot be put on hold or paused whenever it's convenient to do so.

When caring for your voice, you need to be aware of just how sensitive your instrument is and also realize that it is just that, an instrument. Coming from a musical background, I grew up abiding by a number of guidelines set in place to protect my voice. In university, the first week of school, we were handed an extensive package that described in great detail what to avoid doing to save our instruments from harm.

Getting sick aside, any number of external elements could affect the well being of your voice and its performance, including what you eat, drink, breathe in and so on.

Don't Abuse Your Voice

Yelling, screaming, whispering, crying and even talking extensively on the phone can all wear your voice down. You might have been surprised by the telephone citation, but believe me, it's a culprit and is very tiring, drying and can be taxing on your voice.

Some of those things may appear to be obvious to you because they directly involve the use of your voice. Now consider this. Smoking cigarettes, drinking alcoholic or caffeinated beverages, and inhaling second-hand smoke can also injure your voice.

Avoid these at all costs before a recording and stick to water as the beverage of choice.

Also be mindful to not wear perfume or cologne before you warm up your voice and record. If you must wear something, make it a light, neutral scent. Remember, no one can smell you through your podcast.

Be Realistic

Know your range and respect its natural boundaries.

If you know that your vocal range is limited to an octave or so, don't push harder to reach low, growly pitches or strain to speak too high, either. Do not force yourself because you'll not only sound bad but it will also hurt your voice.

Your natural speaking voice sits in your comfort zone, also known as your tessitura. Tessitura is an Italian word that refers to a singer's comfortable range that presents its best sounding texture or timbre.

Bearing this in mind, your voice has limits and you'll need to respect them otherwise you will grow tired quickly and find that your voice is under performing, even in pain.

Protecting Your Voice From Sickness

Protect your voice from environmental factors / sick people!

I went to see my doctor just yesterday for an ear/nose/throat issue and in passing, he mentioned that he has seen more people lately who are sick with a cold than he did throughout the entire winter. For whatever reason, there's something going around, and because of what we know about how important our voice is, we've got to do even more to protect ourselves from getting sick.

Being sick when you record changes the quality of your voice, its range and also may injure you. When you're sick, it's best to let your voice rest and save recording for another day.

Some Tips For Keeping Healthy:

1. Wash your hands thoroughly
2. Make as little contact as possible with those who are sick
3. Take your vitamins, remain hydrated, get lots of sleep and eat healthy foods

Warming Up Your Voice

- Stay hydrated
- Start with gentle warmups like humming
- Engage your articulators and resonators - do tongue twisters

Don't Forget To Breathe!

- Breathing and support is fundamentally important
- Supporting from your diaphragm helps you to project
- Phrase well by speaking on the breath

When we were little babies, breathing was so natural. Over time, you lose your ability to breathe properly and fall into some bad habits. When you are singing, speaking in public or acting, you need access to as much supported breath as possible and that may mean that you need to relearn how to breathe deeply, sustain the breath and use it to buoy your phrases.

For a moment, I want you to stop thinking about everything and concentrate only on breathing. Feel the air as you inhale as it fills your lungs, and gently exhale and release. If you can, please stand for this to get the full effect. Put your hand on your stomach now as you breathe. When you breathe in, your ribcage should expand as your lungs fill with air. When you breathe out, let the air leave you slowly on a hiss.

Panting like a dog can help you to establish proper breathing technique in its earliest stages. Try it. You can't help but inhale and exhale properly when you are panting. Pant quickly at first to get the rhythm and then slow it down so that you can dissect your breathing technique. When you breath in, your stomach should expand. When you breath out, or exhale, your stomach should return to its normal state.

What Did You Say?

Seldom do you misinterpret what a professional actors says or miss words due to poor diction on a CBC radio program, however, when it comes to podcasting, not everyone is a trained professional and aware of how they pronounce words, intone or deliver their speech.

I once had a teacher at my choir school who would ask people to come in literally off the street to see if they could understand what our class was singing. If someone who was hearing the piece for the first time could repeat back exactly what we were singing, we knew that our diction was spot on. If they had difficulty, we had to place more emphasis on spitting our consonants out.

Sometimes it helps to have another person listen to your recordings before you publish them and be that second set of ears for you.

- Be conscious of how you sound
- Watch your diction
- Project your voice and do not mumble

Your Voice Speaks Volumes About You

- Your voice and how you use it defines you
- How you use your voice will directly impact your audience
- People expect to hear quality content and pleasant voices

Podcasting is an audio medium and the most important tool that you have to communicate your message is your voice. If you are recording podcasts for pleasure and are not trying to make a business of it, people will not be as judgmental, however, if the podcast is for a corporation or organization, there is the expectation that the voice over be of professional caliber.

Final Tips:

- Drink lots of water!
- Respect your voice
- Maintain good health
- Speak in your comfort zone
- Prepare for success

Download The Presentation At Slideshare.net

If you'd like to download a PDF copy of my presentation, visit this link:

"Content is King But Voice is Queen" from PodCamp London by Stephanie Ciccarelli

Here's a link the video of my Content is King But Voice is Queen presentation. Thanks to those of you who attended in person and via the web on Saturday streaming live!

Thank you also for reading and I hope you enjoyed this post!

Cheers,

Stephanie

Related Topics: how to, pclo09, PodCamp London, Queen, radio, Stephanie Ciccarelli, technique, techniques, throat, vocal health, voice, whispering


Comments


    Not only is this sound, timely advice but some people (like myself) might use this info as a reference...something to go back to for guidance later on so you can continue to do it!

    Posted by:

      You're the Queen of Content, Stephanie! I will continue to sing your praises, literally!

      Voice-over coaches often advise their students to take acting classes. That's an excellent suggestion, but I can't tell you how much I have benefited from singing lessons.

      VOCAL WORKOUT
      Just as every sportsman (or woman) has to train each day to keep those muscles strong and flexible, we as voice-over artists are vocal athletes. We have to do everything we can to keep our voice in great shape. For me, singing is the preferred exercise routine that gets me ready for that marathon recording session.

      SACRED SOUNDS
      For many years I was a member of a choir specializing in the ancient art of plainchant. Gregorian chant is just about the oldest western classical music known to mankind. The fragile, meandering unison melodic lines of certain songs can seem deceptively simplistic. Most of the vocal techniques I use today date back from my time as a member of this choir. Here are just a few things I learned:

      * effective warm-ups
      * the right posture
      * voice projection
      * diction
      * word coloring
      * supportive breathing
      * text interpretation
      * taking directions

      ADDED BONUS
      In our profession it's so easy to become a recording recluse. In the old days, we had to go to a studio to do our work. We’d actually see the people we were working with and really connect. Nowadays, we’re often home alone, locked up in a dark whisper room, glued to our computer screens and we text, twitter and blog till we're blue in the face. Rumor has it that some of us have even started "talking to the hand". In this case that hand looks very much like a microphone...

      Here's a suggestion: get out there and join a choir! It's not only a fun-filled feast for your vocal chords; it’s the perfect excuse to get out of the house. You'll meet lots of interesting people and you'll even get a chance to perform in front of an audience. Most of us rarely get a chance to observe how people respond to the fruits of our labor. I’m telling you, it’s a thrill to see audience members magically moved by marvelous music. And it’s an amazing experience to fill a void with the sound of many voices blending together in (hopefully) perfect harmony.

      And finally, for those of you who love twisting your tongue, I have found the ultimate site. It only has 2790 entries in 109 languages: http://www.uebersetzung.at/twister/

      Posted by:

        Thanks! Wonderful advice.

        Posted by:

          Stephanie thank you for this comprehensive and basic reminder to care for our voice. "Voices connect people on a deep human level." That is my job as a voice over professional. Thank you for helping me to do it better.

          Debbe Hirata

          Posted by:

            Thanks for the kick in the pants Stephanie :) Your timing is brilliantly perfect on this article heh Time to get back in gear! :D

            Posted by:

              Dear Stephanie,

              I remember my beloved Mum telling me about certain precautions that were necessary to protect her (speaking and singing) voice, i.e., and e.g., never drinking liquids that were too hot or too cold. And knowing "how" to breathe, i.e., from one's diaphragm and,in so doing, be able to project one's voice to the far end of a theatre (or auditorium) if necessary. Not something that the majority of American (and other) actors do, or are capable of doing today. And, in fact, I don't know if it has something to do with the "sound" level? But, my flat-mate and I, absolutely strain ourselves to hear what the actors and actresses are saying? So much so that we now try to lip-read? And really unable to follow what is actually going on - usually just turn the (silly) film or TV programme off.

              Simply to say thanks for your always interesting and helpful articles.

              With very best wishes and fond regards,
              Elizabeth.

              Posted by:
              • Elizabeth Playford Sleigh
              • April 30, 2009 10:43 PM

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