I’ve used microphones since I was 4 years old. I decided to work out how to hook up the mic to my parents old reel to reel tape recorder back in 1980. In fact, I’m pretty sure that the recording still exists somewhere at their house. It was some child like nonsense of me insisting that I would be able to convince them to let me get my own tape recorder for my bedroom. On a more formal basis, I began ‘presenting’ 25 years ago. That makes me sound really old but I was only 15 at that time.
My YouTube channel started in 2015 (it’s actually existed longer than that but I didn’t really have any videos on it) and I’ve been doing tutorial videos in front of a microphone for about 3 years now.
Even after such a long time, I still remember finding it unnerving and strange recording into a mic and then hearing my own voice.
Advice for Recording:
Below is a list of a few tips I recommend to those who are starting out on their career in front of a mic. This might be corporate videos, public presentations, internet radio or YouTube. Let’s be honest, it’s most likely to be the last one of these. Most of these are common sense but it never hurts to re-read these ideas. Any technical terms used here will link out to a relevant page for reading up.
This list includes a combination of general advice on technique and microphone usage tips.
- It’s easy to say but really do not worry about your voice. It’s always strange initially but that goes very quickly and remember that, to everyone else, it’s just your voice.
- Practice recording and listen back to it. This will increase your exposure to your own voice but also improve your technique and style.
- Go back to old work and listen back to it. Note down and learn from any problems.
- Try to sound more cheerful and jovial than feels natural. Enunciate more than usual. It will not sound stupid on the final production even though it feels a bit daft when you record it.
- Do not rush. Dead air is OK so leave gaps when talking. This allows listeners to process and it helps with the edit too.
- If you’re going to edit out erms and mistakes, be subtle. It’s fine to have a few in sometimes (unless scripted). Too many edits destroy the flow of speech and it is jarring and uncomfortable to listen to.
- You don’t need to spend a fortune on a mic but try to invest over $50 to get good results.
- A shock mount isn’t necessary. You just need to use something to acoustically decouple your mic stand from e.g. your desk. This could be a piece of packing foam and some cardboard. It works great.
- Invest time time in learning how to get a nice sound with your mic and audio setup.
- Get familiar with audio levels and make sure your mic is suitably louder than other background levels such as music.
- Use a pop-filter on your mic to avoid annoying plosives when talking.
- Get close to your mic to avoid room acoustics and take advantage of the proximity effect that most mics offer.
The Reality of Online Content
Overall, YouTube being YouTube means that people will probably tell you when something sucks. Try to mentally prepare and accept that YouTube cowards hiding behind the anonymity of their keyboard will be harsh. Are you ready for this? It hurts more than you might think. Don’t let it stop you. Just be ready for it. Filter out the nonsense and work with the genuine criticism. Reddit is one place to ask for feedback but in many cases the feedback is from people with little experience themselves so, as with all feedback, take it with a pinch of salt.