Celeste Headlee on her audiobook recording ritual

Celeste Headlee on her audiobook recording ritual

In Author Conversations, Beyond the Cover, Open Book - Scribd Originals by Celeste Headlee

Celeste Headlee on her audiobook recording ritual

Journalist Celeste Headlee is no stranger to being in front of the mic. As a radio and podcast host, she’s a pro at recording content. With three audiobook narrations under her belt for her past books, Speaking of Race: Why Everybody Needs to Talk About Racism - and How to Do It, We Need to Talk: How to Have Conversations That Matter, and Do Nothing: How to Break Away from Overworking, Overdoing, and Underliving, she’s mastered the art of audiobook recording.

Here, Headlee shares her recording secrets — from a killer sound setup to the best pre-performance drink — as she prepares to narrate You’re Cute When You’re Mad, her new Scribd Original about tackling the “friendly” forms of sexism all around us.

1. Mind your hair

Pull your hair up and out of the way. The mic picks up any little sounds, including the sound of you moving or playing with your hair, so it’s best to have it out of your face from the beginning. 

2. Drink herbal tea with honey

I make a full 40-ounce thermos of tea before I record — my preference is Organic Throat Coat Tea. Stick with an herbal tea and avoid coffee if you can, as caffeine can be a drying agent. I like to sweeten my tea with a little honey, since it’s moisturizing, smooth, and can help prevent irritation in the throat, allowing me to talk for longer.

3. Use a humidifier

I always have a humidifier on the ground beneath me when I record so that I can drink in that nice, humid air while I’m reading. One small caveat is that it should be completely silent, so there is no noise for the microphone to pick up on. 

4. Invest in good studio equipment

With the work I do, it’s crucial to invest in a good microphone, which is why I have the Neumann BCM 104 — I absolutely adore it. I have an ISOVOX vocal booth, which makes a clean, clear sound when I’m recording. Lastly, I always like to set my script up on a tablet with a rolling screen, so I can keep reading without stopping. 

5. Strike the right tone

Imagine that you’re talking to your best friend, and you’re trying to explain the language so clearly that they can turn around and repeat what you’ve told them.

You're Cute When You're Mad by Celeste Headlee

Compliments based on a person’s gender can be just as damaging as overt insults. Journalist Headlee supplies practical advice for dealing with microaggressions and mansplaining in the workplace in this Scribd Original. “You’re Cute When You’re Mad” isn’t just for women: it’s for anyone who wants to create a more equitable and inclusive society.


You’re Cute When You’re Mad is a Scribd Original and is available exclusively on Scribd. It’s included in our subscription service as an ebook and an audiobook. You can find more Scribd Originals here.


About the Author: Celeste Headlee

Celeste Headlee is an internationally recognized journalist and radio host as well as an award-winning author. Her previous books include Speaking of Race, We Need To Talk, and Do Nothing.