Within the first seven seconds of meeting, people will have a solid impression of who you are — and some research suggests a tenth of a second is all it takes to start determining traits like trustworthiness. (Forbes)
The sound of your voice is a key component to a first impression, and to others’ willingness to continue paying attention to your message. In fact, according to the 7-38-55 formula, nearly 40% of a person’s attitude is conveyed vocally through tone and inflection. Hear more in Emily Binder’s mini-podcast: The 7-38-55 Rule for Better First Impressions.
Podcasting has become an increasingly popular medium for sharing ideas and stories.
Voice marketing works wonders for certain types of businesses. But the key to a successful podcast lies not just in content but also in effective vocal delivery. Whether you’re a beginner or an intermediate podcaster looking to enhance your on-air presence, these tips will help you refine your speaking skills and captivate your audience.
Stats on podcast growth (why streaming audio matters for business):
Global Podcast Listener Growth:
- Podcast listening has been steadily growing globally. According to a report by Statista, the number of podcast listeners worldwide was projected to reach over 1.5 billion by 2023.
Podcast Content Growth:
- The number of podcasts and episodes available has also seen significant growth. In 2021, there were over 2.5 million podcasts and more than 48 million episodes, showcasing the diverse range of content available to listeners.
Advertising Revenue Increase:
- The podcast advertising market has experienced substantial growth. According to the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), podcast ad revenues in the United States were estimated to surpass $1 billion in 2021, demonstrating the increasing interest of advertisers in this medium.
Voice / Speaking: Four Tips to Sound Better on a Podcast
1. Master Your Tone of Voice
What is tone of voice? (Definition)
Tone of voice refers to the expressive quality and attitude conveyed through language, encompassing elements like pitch, pace, and word choice. It plays a crucial role in shaping the overall mood and impact of spoken or written communication, establishing a distinctive style for individuals, brands, or entities.
Your tone of voice sets the mood for your podcast and establishes a connection with your listeners. Experiment with different tones to find one that aligns with the vibe of your content.
A warm and conversational tone often works well, making your audience feel like they are part of a friendly discussion. Avoid monotony by infusing enthusiasm and emotion into your voice, creating a dynamic listening experience.
2. Mind Your Breathing
Proper breathing is the foundation of a strong vocal delivery. Take deep breaths before speaking, and remember to breathe naturally during your podcast. This not only helps you maintain clarity in your speech but also prevents a rushed or breathless delivery.
Be conscious of your breath control, allowing for pauses when needed to emphasize points or give your listeners a moment to absorb information.
3. Speaking pace (average words per minute)
Finding the right balance between speaking too fast or too slow is crucial for effective communication.
The average rate of speech for an American is about 125 words per minute; the human brain can process about 800 words per minute. So remember: speaking extra slowly throughout does NOT give clarity; it gives boredom and makes your listener’s brain itch to skip ahead since it can process ~4x faster.
Aim for a moderate pace that allows your audience to grasp the information without feeling overwhelmed or too stimulated.
- Brain processing ability: 800 WPM (words per minute) – that’s high
- Average daily speaking rate: 125-150 WPM
- Podcasting recommended speaking rate: 140-160 WPM (slightly quicker than daily speech)
This moderately quicker, upbeat average pace strikes a balance between keeping your audience engaged and ensuring comprehension. Remember that clarity (ease for a listener to understand you) is key – enunciate your words and articulate your thoughts. But you don’t need to slow down overall to be more clear, that’s a common misconception.
Maintain an average steady pace throughout (this makes it easier to follow or for your Type A listeners to 1.5x the playback speed).
BUT! Do pepper in changes to pace, speeding up or slowing down to accentuate points now and again. This is a wonderful tool to engage listeners as it breaks the pattern (that’s good).
Here’s a great example from Julie Johnson’s speaker reel. Notice in the first five seconds how her whispered, slower speech draws listeners in.
4. Play with Cadence
Experiment with the rhythm and flow of your speech. You want to average a moderate to slightly quicker overall pace (see #3 above) but sometimes vary the speed of speech because it’s a great opportunity to emphasize certain points and keep listeners’ ears perked up.
A varied cadence keeps your audience engaged and prevents monotony. Adjust your pace to match the energy of your content:
- Slow down for emphasis on important points.
- Speed up during more animated or exciting segments.
Mastering cadence adds a layer of sophistication to your podcasting style, making it more enjoyable for your listeners.
To wrap up our tips on mastering your podcast speaking voice:
Honing your vocal delivery is a continuous process that requires practice and self-awareness. By mastering tone of voice, paying attention to breathing, experimenting with cadence, and finding the right speaking pace, you’ll elevate your podcasting game and leave a lasting impression on your audience. Incorporate these tips into your routine, and watch as your podcast becomes a captivating auditory experience for your listeners.
How to tell if it’s working
This can be tough to measure directly or immediately, especially if you’ve used monotone for a year and just now begin consciously improving. But eventually you should see improvement in listener growth, retention, and completion rate.
As for one KPI that we love when it comes to vocal efficacy: look at completion rate AKA Average Consumption (the percentage of your podcast the average listener finishes).
See your completion rate in your Acast analytics for desktop widget plays or better yet, view your Average Consumption stats in Apple for Podcasters (https://podcasters.apple.com/) which usually has a larger dataset.
What’s a good completion rate or Average Consumption for a podcast?
Over 40% is considered an engaged listener, according to Apple.