Have you ever tried to sound like the morning news anchor? Do you wish your voice was more like a public radio reporter?
At the Excellence in Journalism conference Saturday morning, three broadcast professionals offered best practices and advice on how to find and focus your inner broadcast voice.
Amy Tardif, news director at WGCU, worked with the audience on the first step of finding a broadcast voice: warming up the face and vocal chords.
“Just like your hamstrings, you need to stretch [those] muscles,” Tardif said. “It’s what helps you talk.”
She walked the audience through a number of exercises, including jumping jacks for blood circulation, massaging the cheeks, loosening the jaw and sticking out the tongue.
“You have to be willing to be silly,” Tardif said.
To tackle the next issue, NBC10 anchor and reporter Tracy Davidson discussed breathing techniques and ways to stay focused. She talked about the benefits of daily mediation to train the mind to stay concentrated, and she also asked the audience to pay close attention to the movement of their breath.
“Breathing across the chest,” Davidson said, “you’re not getting everything you need for fully supported speaking.”
Instead, she said, inflate the belly when drawing a deep breath to use the diaphragm. This supports better speech habits. Davidson mentioned a few exercises that can train this skill, like holding one note for a long time.
George Bodarky is the news and public affairs director at WFUV FM, an NPR affiliate. He also teaches at CUNY’s Graduate School of Journalism and is well-known for vocal coaching and training.
“We need to work really hard to sound natural,” Bodarky told the audience. “And that sounds like an oxy-moron, right?”
He invited audience members to come to the front of the room and practice reading a short script into the microphone. After hearing the script the first time, Bodarky assigned an exercise: if the person was too timid or too quiet, he might ask them to shout the script angrily. If they read the script too quickly, Bodarky insisted that they read it again with a slow Southern drawl. For one participant who seemed nervous, Bodarky asked the man to reread the lines while laughing, trying to relax.
After performing their assigned exercise, each participant read the script again in their natural voice. Every time, there was noticeable improvement.
“I think that vocal performance, if anything, is like a puzzle,” Bodarky said. “You have all of these different pieces — you need to put it together.”