As well as being a journalist I am also a comedy writer. My series “Taking the Flak” broadcast on the BBC and based on my own experiences, was the story of British journalists covering a war in a fictional African country. We filmed in Tanzania and Kenya for several months and I learned some excellent techniques on performing and voice from our actors which I now use in my journalism.
Despite the fact our voice is a powerful tool for broadcasting, very few of us journalists look after our voices the way actors and singers do. So here’s a few tips to get the most from your voice:
- Before you are recording your voice for a report or going into studio to broadcast, you are often sitting at a desk crouching over a computer, so always spend a minute stretching in any way that is comfortable. Then hang your head down and let your hands reach to the floor. This will open up your chest.
- After stretching, massage your face and try some gentle neck rolls. This exercise will warm up your neck and throat muscles.
- Do the “Lion and Fish” exercise. These are funny faces which will stretch your face and mouth; open your eyes and mouth as if you were a roaring lion. Then scrunch up your mouth and eyes as if you were a fish. Go back and forth between Lion and Fish a few times. Have fun with this!
- When you are recording for a TV or radio story, arrange the microphone so you can stand up. Your voice will be much stronger and richer.
- Always use your hands and animate your face when you broadcast or record your script.
- If you are in studio for long periods, stand up and stretch when there is a break—in fact get everyone in the studio to join you, it’s a great way to keep your energy flowing.
And here’s a tip on things not to do…this happened to a BBC colleague Quentin Sommerville when he was doing an investigative story about drugs trafficking and seizures.