Finding the right voice for a presentation

Teaching actors how to find the right voice for a character is something I work at in my day job. Finding the voice for a character is something an actor works at whilst prepping a role. It’s not just about dialect and accent either, although developing these skills is important. Clear speech, acceptable pronunciation, phrasing … these are some of the other voice skills that an actor works at, but further considerations come into play when relating the voice and speech to content.

Finding the right voice is as much about finding the right vocal fit for the material; for an actor it is always going to be related to character, but it’s also about what it is the character is talking about that determines the rhythm, tempo and ‘tone’ of the dialogue … the vocal style. And so it is with any presentation, and especially when the voice is all in an audio podcast. Someone once said the pictures are better on radio, and the voice that paints those pictures for your imagination does a lot of the work.

There’s a fair chance that the professionally-produced podcasts are going to owe much to the sounds and conventions of radio voices. Indeed some of the presenters are professional announcers or ex-radio folk; the voices are warm, well-pitched, flexible … experienced at making you listen, and keeping you listening. The style of delivery … relaxed, intense or anywhere in between usually owes much to the content. Think of the way the voice of a late night jazz compere can soothe. Compare this with morning radio on an FM rock station or talk-back show … they’re worlds apart in vocal style. In fact the voice is often spoken of by some trainers as ‘an instrument’ and there are great announcers who can play that instrument superbly well.





2 responses to “Finding the right voice for a presentation”

  1. Christine Martell Avatar

    I recently became an accidental podcaster for my professional association. I know I am not doing it as well as I could, but I usually just go for a playful informal approach. Our guests get much more nervous. Do you have any quick tips we could offer them when we are scheduling? They are all training professionals, so they tend to want information or ideas about how to do things better.

  2. katefoy Avatar

    further to this post, I am working with a colleague to produce a podcast that will I hope lay out some of the things I talk about.

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