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How do you create a podcast when you don't like your voice?
You feel like maybe you still have something you want to offer people, you have some value you can provide via podcast, but you just don't like your voice. I find this topic really interesting. And I find this when I suggest to somebody, have you thought about launching a podcast? And they say, “Oh, no. I don't like my voice. I don't have a podcasting voice. I don't have a voice for radio.” Any of those kinds of excuses. I always laugh because I hated my voice until I started podcasting. And personally, podcasting has really helped me to like my voice. I think it's really improved my voice, both podcasting and speaking on a stage. I used to get terrified. If you gave me a microphone, I had no idea how to speak into it. Now you put a microphone in front of me and it's like something in my brain lights up. I'm in podcast mode now, I can talk.
It's quite strange because in real life, unless I'm with my closest friends, I'm generally a person of very few words. And then put a microphone in front of me and I can talk for five minutes based on just some bullet points now. I used to script my episodes fully, now I just roll with it. You probably can tell if you go back and listen to my old episodes versus my episodes now. You can be like, “I see the difference between scripted Steph and not scripted Steph.”
So I have always been incredibly self-conscious about my voice. When I was eight years old, my family moved from South Africa to New Zealand. And I was actually bullied for being a kid who spoke funny. Well, I didn't have a weird accent, but by their standards, I had a weird accent. Then when I was 18, I moved through the South Island of New Zealand for uni and my new friends laughed at me because I had a posh accent, because I was from the big city and I went to a good school and I spoke posh apparently. And then when I was 19, I moved over to Australia. And again, people laughed at me for my accent because by now I had a pretty thick Kiwi accent. So I learned to blend my accents. And now I think I have a pretty neutral one, but yes. I've always been very conscious of how I've spoken and I haven't loved my voice at all.
Talking into a microphone definitely doesn't come naturally to me. It might sound like it does now, but that is because I've been podcasting for three years. My first two years of this podcast, I scripted and bullet-pointed every episode down to a tee. And I wouldn't dare wander off script, because I was so afraid that I would lose my train of thought and I would stuff up. But now, it's just bullet points. I trust that I can ad-lib enough to create an episode and it's just bullet points of what I want to say. But it has been such a process. It's been a process of figuring out if I do this with my voice, this makes it sound better in the recording. If I don't breathe as much, this is what it sounds like. If I talk fast, if I talk slow, this is how I can emphasize different points.
You really just have to allow yourself to be a beginner and allow yourself to experiment with your voice a little bit. My friend, Sally Prosser, has a whole bunch of courses and tips and tricks on how to speak better. But honestly, so much of it is just time and just slowly learning to accept your voice as it is. And work on how you can improve on what you've already got, rather than try to sound like somebody who you aren't. And over time, you'll just learn to like it and you'll learn to trust yourself better when you're speaking. Eventually one day you'll find yourself speaking on a stage, if we ever go back to having in person events again.
You'll find yourself speaking on stage and you'll realize like, hey, actually I'm a heck of a lot better speaker than I used to be, and it's all because of podcasting. So I really believe that if you have something valuable to say, you shouldn't let your voice hold you back from saying it.
I help online entrepreneurs just like you launch and relaunch their online courses, memberships, digital products and podcasts to reach more people, grow their audience and become the go-to geniuses in their industry