How to Fight Vocal Fry
An audience will perk up when your energy does: they want to hear what you’re saying because they are connecting with your words. If you speak in vocal fry, it will interfere with this connection because you leave the impression that not only don’t you care about the information, you also don’t care about the audience.
There’s a new type of speech plaguing America. No, it’s not the latest politician standing atop the soapbox. It’s a way many Americans, especially women, speak called vocal fry. Vocal fry, according to Naomi Wolf, is the “glottalization in the back of the throat.” It is a creak, growl, or a croak in the voice, which gets the voice to the lowest vocal register. The speaker speaks with barely enough breath to finish a sentence, causing them to appear apathetic to both their message—and their audience.
You can watch this short video from Faith Salie about vocal fry here.
I had the opportunity to interview Liz Callahan about vocal fry earlier this year. Read her tips below and you can watch the full interview with Liz Callahan below.* –Stephanie St. Martin
Fact: The way you speak can hurt your career.
In the early 1990’s, Americans were told to avoid using “likes” and talking “up” at the end of sentence. Yes, talking in the Up-speak trend (or the speech of a Valley Girl) was not kind to your career.
Now-a-days, it’s vocal fry. Think of this is way: If “like” is associated with Up-speak, then the implied “whatever” is the same to vocal fry.
Millennial women, especially, suffer from this behavior. They mimic the behavior they see on television, and often use vocal fry to show gravitas. As a result, it seems they are too entitled to devote energy to whatever this conversation is about.
Picture a woman who, although bright, is speaking with vocal fry. The problem is that she doesn’t have the breath to get out her message. As a result, she appears disengaged and underwhelmed, leaving her audience also underwhelmed by her message.
As a professional, leaving that type of impression – with your coworkers, boss, or a client — when you speak should be alarming.
How can you counteract vocal fry? By your presence. Here are some tips:
- Add energy and breath to your voice to make your audience feel more connected. An audience will perk up when your energy does: they want to hear what you’re saying because they are connecting with your words. If you speak in vocal fry, it will interfere with this connection because you leave the impression that not only don’t you care about the information, you also don’t care about the audience.
- Posture helps. If you are slumped in your chair (despite the fact you’re trying to have a conversation about something you consider incredibly important) and respond in a lower register with no breath, your words will be lost. All your audience will hear is, “Oh my god, I do not have the energy to deal with that right now.” Sit up straight. Feel your feet on the ground. Be more present to the conversation.
- If you hear yourself make that awful growl, use your belly breath. It’s a good tool in your presence arsenal is your belly breath. Use it whenever you feel your breath becoming short and your voice not carrying.
*Before you judge MY performance, know that I was on the job for only one week when we did this…you should see my virtual presence now: it’s stellar!