How to Find a Voice for Radio: Learning to Use the Voice as an Instrument on Radio

Whatever else the radio listener may hear, the main source of connection from presenter to listener on radio is first and foremost, a voice. It’s no coincidence then that of all the communication mediums, radio is as close as you can get to mass communication, by ‘word of mouth.’ In its simplest form it’s really just one human being talking to another.

The Voice as an Instrument.

One of the first areas of tuition at drama school is often voice classes, and a good voice coach can be any aspiring actor’s best friend. Many silent movie actors’ careers finished with the invention of ‘The Talkies,’ especially when their voice didn’t match their on-screen presence. A ‘good voice with effective delivery,’ is a huge bonus for any actor to have in their armoury. Take away the on-screen image, and the voice becomes the main instrument.

Voice Exercises and Tricks.

Although there are many attributes of voice delivery and presence a radio presenter can learn from the acting profession, the main difference is that while actors may look to develop various voices and accents, the radio presenter would do well to find their own. Enlisting the help of a professional voice coach or voice training might be time well spent, but there are a few simple tips worth developing.

  • Posture. Sit up straight, or stand.
  • Breathe. Take deep or regular breaths.
  • Smile. Facial expression comes across.
  • Be yourself. Be natural and relaxed.

Some radio personalities stand up for the whole of their show, and believe not being seated gives them a better on-air voice. Try it! If the body is slouching or bent over, the muscles can’t relax, air doesn’t reach the diaphragm so easily, and the voice suffers. Proper posture, tension released, deep breaths and the voice will sound more expressive and confident.

Finding the Right Voice.

Most people don’t consciously change their own voice dramatically for differing situations. Some people might consciously or subconsciously find themselves adopting a slower or clearer voice for the telephone, public speaking, or in more formal situations to make them easier to understand. What doesn’t work so well is trying to mimic someone, or trying to fit a stereo-type in the belief it sounds better than the person’s own voice. Normally it doesn’t.

What some radio presenter’s do.

Every good radio presenter listens back to their performance from time to time, and to hear it as their listener hears it. Some programme controllers review parts of the presenters’ shows on a more regular basis. Some have adopted techniques that work for them, make them more polished presenters and connect better to their audience. Techniques like:

  • Listening to their favourite presenters, or radio legends.
  • Talk to one listener, imagine a-typical listener and broadcast to them
  • Being aware of the audience and/or time of day and vary the delivery
  • Prepare well, practice, and listen to the broadcast.

The voice as a radio presenter is a different voice to that required as voice talent, or as a voice-over. Understanding the differences and listening to the variations in both, will also help develop a radio voice.