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Listening to Yourself on a Recording


The picture in this post is not Nikki.  But this is what Nikki’s face looked like as she screamed, “That’s not what I sound like!!!”

Nikki was 6 at the time and had started to watch a video of herself recorded on her mother’s iPhone.  Nikki wigged out.  She screamed “Make it stop!”  She flailed around in protest and she insisted that the recording was not how she sounded.


Nobody Likes Their Own Recorded Voice at First

Nikki is not alone.  I have never met anyone who said they liked the sound of their voice the first time they heard it on a recording.

And for some of us, the video just compounds the situation! You may also not like the way you look.  Or the reminder that you’re not as young or as in shape as you used to be.

It’s understandable why people don’t like to see or listen to themselves.

The problem is that sometimes,that angst of having to hear your voice or watching yourself on video, keeps you from recording yourself.

Recording yourself is a valuable tool in improving your presentation.  Your audience has to listen to you.  Your audience has to watch you.  Isn’t it the least you can – to watch a recording of yourself as you rehearse?

If you’re one of the many people who aren’t recording yourself than here are ….

Three Strategies for Coping with Watching Yourself on Video

Detach Yourself

Detach yourself from judging yourself.  Watch the recording in the same way that you’d watch a video on TED.com.  (If you haven’t watched any TED.com videos, treat yourself when you’re done commenting on this blog post!)

If you were watching yourself as a neutral observer, how would you rate yourself.  What did you do well?  What could you have done better?  Learn from your assessment then adjust your presentation.

Give Yourself a Watching Assignment

Watch your presentation, giving yourself a specific assignment of to watch for or listen to.  For instance, you might watch yourself with the sound off to see how you use body language throughout your presentation.  You might listen for specific verbal distractions, counting the number of times you say “you know,” or “um.”  You can watch the presentation to see if you transition effectively from one part of the presentation to the next.

By giving yourself a specific assignment, you can distract yourself from being overwhelmed by all the things you don’t like so that at least you can start noticing specific areas where you can make a concerted effort to improve.

Recognize that You Sound and Look Better than You Imagined

Look for evidence that there are things you do very well in your presentation.  Do you see spots where people naturally laugh?  Do you know certain parts of your presentation really well.  Look for small success in your presentation and use that as affirmation that you have skill and can build on that to keep getting better.

You Do Get Used to the Sound of Your Voice

I finally got used to the sound of my voice when I was competing in Toastmasters speech contests.  I competed in so many speech contests and recorded and watched so many speeches that eventually, I was able to detach and start really paying attention to what was working and where I could improve.  It’s a liberating thing to be comfortable with your recorded self.  Do I wish I was 20 pound thinner?  Yes.  But that doesn’t stop me from recording and watching so that I can better serve my audiences.

Still Hate Watching Your Recordings?  Do It Anyway!

Sometimes you just have to suck it up and do it because you know it’s for your own good.  This is one of those time.  Do it for yourself.  Do it for your audiences.  Do it for the person who asked you to speak.  Just do it!

Your Tips for Recordings

Have you found other ways of getting used to watching and hearing yourself?  Let us know so we can all learn!  Add to the conversation in the comments section!