The podcast voice: formal, conversational, what?

Modified Podcast Logo with My Headphones Photo...
Image by Colleen AF Venable via Flickr

Depending on the content and the form of your podcast, you’ll want to think about the style of your delivery. I most often use podcasts to provide course material to students, and more often than not the audio track will be accompanied by slides to support what I am saying … but not always. By the way, I am trying to drop the term lecture because of the connotations of that word … an often large group of people in a lecture hall being talked at by someone for up to an hour. This seems alien to the whole format of podcasting which is (pardon the term) up close and personal via headphones or on a computer screen. I like to play the mic not the lecture hall, and speak one on one with my smart, curious listener who is sitting just the other side of the microphone.

Keep your delivery relaxed, and don’t sound as though you are reading; you can hear it in the voice. Try referring to your listeners from time to time in the way you present the material; you’re speaking to them not at them. There’s a big difference; one’s inclusive, the other exclusive. Opinions and appropriate off the cuff comment are fine too.

Rather than as lectures, I think of my podcasts as audio programs based around a topic; this keeps me vocally and stylistically ‘on.’ Don’t get me wrong … content is vital when delivering course materials, and there’s no substitute for a well-scripted program … see, I didn’t say well-written lecture … but it doesn’t have to be pitched formally. That almost always disengages the listener.  I believe a quality lecture or podcast ought to engage us with the person doing the delivery. A good podcaster will be connected to the material to the point where you can hear it in the voice. If you’re interested, intrigued or passionate about the material, then your listeners are more likely to listen up.

Whilst the odd “um and ah” here and there is OK, it’s best to keep clear of any rambling. Most of us use it and accept it in casual conversation, but it’s somehow not acceptable where focus and keeping to the point are critical and where a lot of content is being delivered as in course learning materials. It’s a style thing. I learned pretty quickly that it was smart to script fully what I wanted to say, and to build in any repeats at key points. I found then that I could concentrate on the how of the delivery and not the what.


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