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Your Best Voice

Susan Stephens

Did you know??? The most compelling sound to a human is another human’s voice. (No pressure)

Your Best Voice

Your best voice is natural.

Your best voice sounds like you.

Your best voice is calm and authoritative.

Your best voice matches the tone of your story.


You are telling a story, not announcing a story. Talk to one person, a person you know, like, and respect. Try to inform, not impress.

Before you open your mouth, think to yourself “Now I will tell you a story. Hey, Victor…” (or insert the name of the person you imagine you are talking to.)

You are speaking to someone who is six feet away. Closer = too intimate. Further = shouting, which distorts your tone.

Deliver thoughts, not words. Think about what you are saying and it will flow as an idea instead of random words.


Hydrate! Avoid milk and sugar before recording.

Review your script, mark it up. If you stumble, it might be the writing. Change it! Your eyes are reading eight words ahead of your mouth: draw a long dark line at the end of your thought, which stops your eye and makes you look up.

Stand up straight. Lengthen and breathe from the diaphragm, not your chest.

Take your headphones off (unless you are on live).

Mic is fist-distance away from your mouth and angled slightly.

You are reading too quickly. A good read might feel painfully slow.

Enunciate! But don’t overdo it.

Wave your hands and make faces!

Many of these tips were learned from David Candow, who was known around NPR as "The Host Whisperer." 

Susan is an award-winning reporter/writer at her favorite radio station. She's also WNIJ's Perspectives editor, Under Rocks contributor, and local host of All Things Considered.