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Can Vocal Fry Hurt Your Career?

Just like fashion trends, speech trends can change with the times. One speech habit that has been gaining increasing attention is vocal fry. Vocal fry (also called glottal fry or creaky voice) is a rattling, creaky vocal quality that happens when a speaker drops their voice to a low pitch. Although it’s often associated with younger women, vocal fry is fairly common across speakers from a range of backgrounds. What exactly is vocal fry, should you consider breaking the habit, and how can a professional communication coach help?

Vocal fry happens when a speaker drops their voice to a pitch that’s lower than their typical speaking voice. This causes the vocal cords to relax and shorten, making them vibrate in a different way. This is what causes that creaky or popping sound. While vocal fry isn’t inherently good or bad, it can significantly impact how others view you. A recent study by researchers at Duke University found that relative to a normal speaking voice, voices exhibiting vocal fry are perceived as less competent, less educated, less trustworthy, less attractive, and notably, less hirable. Speaking with vocal fry can also detract from your message. In addition to being distracting for some listeners, dropping your pitch (particularly at the end of a sentence or phrase) can negatively impact your clarity, make your speech difficult to understand and causing miscommunications.

If you’re a user of vocal fry and would like to break the habit, a professional speech coach can help! At Corporate Speech Solutions, we help our clients recognize the patterns in their speech that are negatively impacting their clarity and professional image. With training, you can change the way you sound, including your vocal quality. A communication coach can help break other habits as well, including the use of filler words (e.g., “um”, “like”), up-speak (raising your tone at the end of a statement so it sounds like a question), mumbling, or speaking too quickly.

If you’re looking for more ways to make your communication skills your most powerful professional tool, make sure to pick up a free copy of my e-book “Communicate with Clarity and Confidence!” by subscribing to our newsletter community on our website. In this free resource, I break down the myriad factors that contribute to confident communication and guide you through how to use each aspect to your advantage.

Give us a call and see how Corporate Speech Solutions can improve your professional life! Call us at 212-308-7725 or send us an e-mail at jayne@corporatespeechsolutions.com to learn more. I’d be more than happy to answer any questions you might have!

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Reference: Anderson, R. C., Klofstad, C. A., Mayew, W. J., & Venkatachalam, M. (2014). Vocal fry may undermine the success of young women in the labor market. PloS one9(5), e97506.