In this installment, your host shares tips for becoming that familiar voice that will help keep your audience engaged:
Hi, I’m lisa Hooper, a librarian and Head of Media Services at Howard-Tilton Memorial Library. This is Introduction to Podcasting, a series of short audio tutorials for those just getting started. Thanks for listening. Over the next few minutes, we’re going to talk about finding your voice.
If you have any questions, comments, or just want to talk about your work, send a line to firstname.lastname@example.org. That’s l h o o p e r, the number 1, at Tulane dot e d u.
So, finding your voice, another captain obvious phrase until you start to really think about it. So we’re here to break it down into practical things that you can do to make your podcast more engaging for your listeners. If you’ve listened to this series of installments in order, you might recall an earlier installment where we talked about how personal podcasts can be. Most of us listen to them in our private spaces such as in our living room or kitchen, for example. And we listen to them while we’re doing largely private activities such as washing the dishes, cooking, exercising, or just taking a minute to chill out in our favorite chair. What’s more, is that we more often use earbuds, piping music and voices directly into our ears and our skulls and cancelling out all these other external noises. I mean really, the podcast presenter may as well be right there in the room with you! I mean and definitely there are some podcasts that I listen to even though I sometimes deeply disagree with what the presenter is saying, but I listen to them because their voice has become a familiar friend. You know, when life is in an uproar, I know that I can count on the familiarity of that voice and its particular accents and spoken idioms to lend at least a few minutes of long sought after stability to my day.
All right. So, hopefully by now you’re asking: well, how can I be that familiar voice?
And truthfully, it all comes down to authenticity.
Podcasting is a space where audiences really want to hear your authentic voice. If you have an accent, embrace it, don’t hide it. So, for example, as I've followed my academic and professional career around the country, I've picked up some bizarre ways of pronouncing words. So here’s an easy one: instead of saying Mom, I say Mum. Instead of saying ‘out’ I say ‘ouuut’. Same with Abouuut; like, I might say ‘I’m going ouut and abouut’. Nobody here in this country that I know of says it that way and I don’t think it’s particular to any one region but it is authentic to me and it doesn’t prevent anyone from understanding what I'm saying.
Another easy thing that you can do to sound like a normal human having a conversation is to embrace all the contractions. You know, in school we’re told over and over that we must use ‘i am,’ ‘it is’, ‘they are’ and so on and so on. Well, podcasting is the one medium where you can happily and comfortably use I'm, it’s, they’re, and the whole lot of contractions.
Alright, now this next piece is truly very important – know who your audience is. If your podcast is for professionals comfortable in the jargon of their field, then embrace their terminology and use it well. If, however, you’re taking an academic topic and presenting it to non-academics, you know, in those cases avoid the jargon and just use a common, comfortable language to discuss the topic. For example, if I were creating a podcast for librarians who work to find and purchase books and other materials for the library collection, I would embrace the jargon and you might hear me saying something like: This podcast is for collection developers seeking to integrate the Critical Information Literacy Framework into their collecting strategies. Right? Any librarian would know exactly what I'm talking about, but do you? If instead I was creating a podcast that explained this same concept to non-librarians or to students of librarianship, then I might say: This is a podcast examining how librarians who buy books think about how researchers and everyday people can, and maybe should, approach information. Honestly, it’s still a little vague but hopefully you get the point – speak to your audience in the language that your audience knows.
Right, so regardless of whether your audience is made up of academics or non-academics, remember that you’re having a conversation. Having pets in my home is a great excuse for me to talk out loud to myself all the time so maybe I’m a little too comfortable with these one-sided out loud conversations. If you’re not that comfortable with talking to but you happen to have a creature family in your home, set your recording space up so that you can see them and talk in conversation with your creatures. If you don’t have pets or if they’re not inclined to sit quietly for you, then you could alternatively try putting up pictures of your friends and family within your sightline and have a conversation with them. At the end of the day though, it really just takes practice. Can you guess how many takes it took to get that opening phrase “Hi, I'm lisa Hooper” into an acceptable sound even after practice? If you guessed ten takes, you gotta go a little bit higher.
Ok. So, there’s another technique for becoming that familiar voice that people want to sit down with. You can share small little bits of information about yourself. And just in these past few minutes I've already revealed at least 2 things about my personal life: 1. I've moved around the country a fair bit, and 2. I have pets. Now, obviously, you don’t want to share out your street address or personal contact information, I mean really you do need to protect yourself as much as the next person. But you can still share details of your life that give people a sense of who you are, that you are a normal human being going through normal human experiences just like them. Being relatable is what makes people come together and seek each other out, after all, isn’t it?
And so that’s really it. Be yourself and embrace your accent and your ways of phrasing things; rejoice in contractions; know your audience; and throw out small, innocuous pieces of information of yourself that help make you human to your listeners.
Thanks for listening. I'll catch you next time.