Listen for it . . . many people talk with a “gravelly” voice. Technically, it’s called vocal fry. It may also be described as sounding “creaky”, “croaky”, “gravelly” or “rough.” This is called vocal fry and it is caused when people talk at too low a pitch without pushing enough air through their vocal cords. Some people have purposefully adapted using a vocal fry as they feel it adds interest to their voice. Women may adopt this speech pattern to sound more assertive around their male peers. However, it can be challenging to understand and to listen to a person with vocal fry.  Vocal fry may be due to nervousness, lack of self-confidence, habit, and possibly a physical abnormality.

Vocal fry can also indicate that someone is getting over an illness and it can become a habit after a long illness. One easy technique to try is to drink more water throughout the day. Unless it is masking an underlying physical problem, vocal fry can be eliminated, and the voice can sound as it should, smooth and robust.

Recently, I had a client come to me for accent modification training.  It was very hard for me to understand her during our consultation call.  At our first session, I evaluated of her speech including pronunciation, intonation, grammar, rate of speech and vocal quality.  My conclusion was that she had some minor accented features in her speech but the biggest challenge was her vocal quality.  She saw an ENT to be sure that there was no physical problem causing her hoarse vocal quality. 

Then we began working on speaking on a full breath of air.  I had her sit up and practicing taking a deep breath.  Next, she worked on speaking on the exhale of this big breath.  This resulted in a big improvement in her vocal quality and speech intelligibility.  (Speech intelligibility refers to how easy it is for others to understand the speaker.)  After just one session, she reported that her co-workers understood her better.  We worked on increasing her ability to speak for longer sentences with a clear voice.  Then she learned to start her sentences at a slightly higher pitch so she would not get down into the gravelly voice quality at the end of sentences. At our last session, we worked on her reciting Psalm 23 with a clear, robust voice.  After just a few sessions her co-workers were no longer asking her to repeat herself! 

Are you concerned about your voice or speaking pattern?  Triad Speech Consultants can help you with voice quality, pronunciation, intonation pattern, organization and delivery of vibrant and confident presentations. skills.

We offer training in person and online and offer free 30 minute consultations.  Our consultations are not a sales pitch!  We will spend 20 minutes discussing your communication and how you can improve it right away.  If you are interested we will spend last 5-8 minutes talking about training program that will help you meet your professional goals.