Is Your Content Sticking?


(By Randy Lane) Most people have heard the saying it’s more important how you say something than what you say. In my experience, this is an easy concept to understand, but much harder to put into practice – especially on-air.

It’s easy for radio and podcast talent to fall into mechanical presentations with the same energy, inflection, and projection through a range of topics. Vocal presentation is everything.

Some seasoned hosts unknowingly limit their own success because they mistake energy for a rapid-fire delivery. Stories and topics get blended together and listeners lose most of the information. Some hosts plod along with a monotone delivery that lacks emphasis and interpretation. Either way, nothing stands out; nothing sticks.

Listen to yourself on-air. Even the most talented hosts need to revisit fundamental communication skills. Think of it as a maintenance tune-up.

Speaking without vocal punctuation is like reading without written punctuation. Your voice is the instrument that carries the content. The way you express yourself vocally determines whether the content connects and sticks.

Previously I discussed the power of the pause as a vital communication technique. Here are four additional ways to improve communication through vocal punctuation.

Vocal Variation

We’re in the business of getting and maintaining the audience’s attention. When your vocals match your content, you have presence, you’re interesting, and you hold the listener’s attention. There’s no way to convey empathy by shouting, and there’s no way to show excitement by speaking softly.

  • Raise the volume of your voice gradually, sometimes to the point of shouting, as you build toward a point or to the dramatic part of a story.
  • Lower your voice for an aside, or in vulnerable conversations.
  • Punch headlines to start content segments, stories, and features. Hit key words and phrases harder for emphasis.


Using only one pace will either overwhelm or bore listeners. Slow the pace to explain ideas, features, and contests. Quicken the pace to demonstrate excitement and humor.


Pitch is the frequency of your voice from low to high.

  • To end news stories, inflect downward with a lower pitch, pause, then raise the frequency of your voice upward to signal the start of a new story.
  • To end stories that raise a question, end on a higher vocal note with an upward inflection.


Tone is a quality in the voice, especially one that expresses the speaker’s feelings, often toward the person being addressed.

  • Presenters who treat all topics with the same tone, don’t connect. They use the same tone talking about weather as they do telling a sensitive story.
  • Your voice sets the emotional tone for a segment. It could be matter of fact, exciting, somber, friendly, enraged, sentimental, or inspirational. For instance, weddings and graduations tend to have a prideful, loving, reminiscing tone.

Randy Lane launched his media talent coaching and personal brand development company in 1996. He can be contacted by phone at 805-497-7177 or email at [email protected]


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