How To Be A Pro Podcast Presenter

Jun 07th

Being a podcast presenter or host can be really great fun, but there is also a skill to being a really professional presenter. It’s not just a matter of being a good conversationalist – you have to consider your listeners, the tech you’re using and even, as it turns out, biology!

We know a few simple tricks to keep in mind when on mic to help your editor out in post-production. Plus we share some advice from expert presenters, storytellers and voice coaches to get the best from your voice.

So whether you are looking at presenting as a career, or just want to improve your personal podcast, here are six tips for being a pro podcast presenter.

What Would Listeners Miss?

As we start getting more video versions of podcasts, don’t forget that many people still listen to podcasts rather than watch them (up to 29% of people using YouTube might minimise the video and just listen). If you are recording in person or on video, but your audience will be getting audio-only, make sure they don’t miss any context to the conversation. Are you talking about someone’s clothes? Describe what they are wearing. Is someone shaking their head? Tell the listener what their reaction is. Make sure your listeners don’t miss out.

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!

Making sure you are well hydrated is one of the simplest ways to improve how you sound on mic. Laura Ekumbo, a Performer, Storyteller and Co-Founder of LAM Sisterhood, says “my first thought is to care for your instrument – that could be through hydration or watching what you eat when you’re about to record or present.” Having some water to hand on recordings is important, but Nic Redman, a voice coach and author of On The Mic, says to start thinking about this earlier. “Fluids can take up to eight hours to affect the saliva/mucus in your body, so if you know you tend to get a bit clicky on mic, then increase your fluids and eat lots of fresh fruit and veg in the few days before you record.” This is also a good reminder in general!

Do a vocal warm-up

A vocal warm-up is not just for professional singers and actors – podcasters can also benefit from vocal techniques. “A quick vocal warm-up will help you settle nerves,” Nic says, “increase your expression and reduce your tongue trip-ups and subsequent editing time.” Laura agrees that the warm-up “is a step too many people skip.” Don’t worry though, she also said it doesn’t have to be a full range of singing scales. A gentle hum of your favourite song is enough, a tongue twister if you’re feeling like a pro, expert level is a full body combined breath, pitch, and dynamics activity with a focus on awareness, placement, and control. Nic has a free 5-minute vocal warm-up for podcasters if you want more ideas, and Laura emphasises “whatever you do, don’t skip warm up – your listeners will thank you for it.”

Think About Your Listener – Not Your Presenting

For newer or nervous presenters, it can be a bit daunting knowing you need to convey emotions and do the storytelling through purely your voice. This is especially true if you are nervous, tired or upset during a recording. Nic says it can help to think about your listener, rather than your recording. “Rather than thinking ‘I need to sound happy/intelligent/excited…’ when you record, think ‘how do I want my listener to feel at this point in the episode?’ Complete this sentence ‘I _____ you’, for example, ‘I motivate you’ or ‘I intrigue you’. This changes the focus from you to them, gets you out of your head where you can get stuck monitoring your voice, and creates a more authentic vocal performance with real expression and variety.”

Speak Into Your Microphone

It seems obvious right? But every sound editor knows that sometimes presenters get caught up in a conversation and forget about the microphone, making some parts quieter than others. This is particularly true if you are hosting in person and have a panel of different guests, where you naturally turn from one to the other. It is good to get into the habit of keeping the microphone at an even distance from your mouth. Try turning to the left and right by leaning your body around so the microphone stays in front of your mouth, rather than turning your head away from it.

Check Pronunciations

One small thing that makes a huge difference to how comfortable your guest and audience feels is making the effort to pronounce things accurately. This is particularly true for your guests’ names so make sure you always take a moment to confirm your pronunciation. Performer and Broadcaster, Suchandrika Chakrabarti, talks about how easy this can be in RISE & SHINE’s Presenting 101 video. “I love the honesty of audio presenters who just say to me ‘How do you say that? Where does the emphasis go?'” Suchandrika says that “no name is too simple to ask to pronounce.” Asking where to put the emphasis is a great way of making it more memorable for yourself.

Looking for more ways to sound like a pro? Check out our other free resources, such as this Definition of Audio and Radio Terms cheat sheet!