Four Tips to Finding Your On-air Voice

Often, when women hear themselves on TV or Radio, they’re dismayed. “Does my voice really sound that high?” Yes– and no. Our own voice does sound deeper to us than what others hear, but the real culprit is something you can control.

1.Drop your shoulders– When we’re excited, nervous, or stressed, our vocal chords tighten, raising our voice to a higher register. The solution, as obvious as it sounds, is to breathe. As they’re clipping on the microphone, take 4 slow, deep breaths. Count to 4 as you breathe in, hold for a couple of seconds, then count to 4 as you breathe out. Feel your shoulders drop. Swallow, and feel your vocal chords relax. Breathe in just before you start talking. You’ll be amazed at the difference in the sound that comes out.

2. Pump up the energy- TV, much more than radio, is a blunt tool, flattening nuance and subtlety in one’s voice. In order to project the same emphasis or intensity you do in real life, you’ll need to double the amount of energy you put into it. If you’re on camera, don’t be afraid to use your hands to bring home a point.

3. Watch out for verbal crutches- We all have them. “y’know”, “um”, “uh”, “so”. They’re our way of buying time while we compose the next thought. But, used too often, they can distract listeners/viewers from what you’re really trying to say. If you know what your crutch is, write it on sticky notes and post them prominently . Then practice often, out loud.

4. Mind the up-speak- It started as a high school affectation, ending every sentence on a high note. Nothing destroys credibility faster, than someone who sounds like they’re questioning the certainty of their own statements.

Patricia Chew

Patricia Chew is the founder of ReelYou, a portable digital branding and marketing tool that tells the world who you really are in under sixty seconds. . A longtime broadcast journalist for CBC’s The National, and CNN International, she has won several international awards for her documentary work. Patricia is currently president of the Living Legacy Project,, a documentary production company based in Vancouver, which also conducts story telling, and media training workshops

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