If you’ve ever been a little bit curious about the wild success of National Public Radio, then you may be interested in knowing that David Candow is one of the men behind the scenes of it all.
He acquired the nickname “The Host Whisperer” while in Washington D.C. after thoroughly training many of NPR’s most prominent voices.
Some of Candow’s most important advice for anyone who wants to speak into a microphone is also his most simple: Just try to sound like yourself.
He makes it clear that trying to imitate a famous voice in radio is like taking a shortcut towards failure. Instead, becoming the most prepared version of “you” is the greatest way to go. This admittedly often takes years of dedication and practice before one can truly hit their stride of consistently sounding cool, natural and confident.
Candow offers us a few more secrets which normally have to be paid for through his highly sought-after corporate consulting gig.
“Own it. You’ve got to make it your own.” He explains that having your own voice is your most important selling point. That’s how NPR seemingly attracts and maintains their listeners – through having separate, distinct voices that are highly recognizable.
Respect the human ear over the written word. There are too many times when writers and reporters ambiguously put down what looks best on paper. In reality, we need to prioritize thinking about how humans really communicate, and write down what will be most easily understood.
Keeping sentences short is also important to Candow. He declares that scripts shouldn’t carry more than one thought per sentence, and no more than a single sentence per line. Simplicity really is the key to his success in writing and radio alike. He also suggests using powerful adjectives in place of lengthier, more complex sentence structures.
Finally, he provides one of his best kept secrets which can help us all in life: Visualizing that we’re speaking with an extremely close friend on air, rather than thinking about the millions of listeners that are tuned in. Professionals have practiced this technique by taping a smiley face to the back of a chair, and then talking to it.
Overall, David Candow’s advice comes down to keeping our words simple, powerful, and original. Developing unique and individualized voices has been key to the successes of some of the greatest radio shows in history. We can all take some of Candow’s secrets into consideration when developing the best versions of our own voices.