One of the most common complaints that older generations have about Millennial women is their use of vocal fry or glottal fry. Put simply, vocal fry is when you use the lowest register of your voice and minimal air flows past your vocal cords. It creates a creaky sound, like "frying bacon." Linguists call this "creaky voice." The use of vocal fry seems to be becoming a Millennial phenomenon, and no one is 100 percent sure why. A popular explanation is the imitation of celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Britney Spears. Some women adopt this pattern whether consciously or unconsciously, perhaps believing that this is a trending vocal pattern. Another possibility is women's desire to lower their voice to sound more authoritative or professional. Many complain of their high-pitched voices. However, in the process of lowering their pitch, they drop to the bottom of their pitch range.
Whatever the reason, many people agree that speaking in this register makes individuals sound less professional and competent. There has been a lot of controversy about this vocal pattern. Naomi Wolf, a feminist author, wrote an article in the Guardian stating that this pattern is undermining women's image in the workplace. Vocal fry is not just limited to women, but it is interesting that males using this pattern do not receive the same criticism.
What does it sound like and what is the controversy about? Check out this video from CBC news in Canada.
How to Know if You’re Using Vocal Fry
It can be difficult to know how you sound to others. If you’re worried that you may be using vocal fry, record yourself speaking. Once you’ve done that, listen back and ask yourself if your voice projects well or is it "crackly." Does your voice trail off and fade away at the ends of sentences? Compare it to some videos with Kim Kardashian, although this is an exaggerated pattern. If you’re still unsure, ask someone you trust to listen and give you honest feedback.
Eliminating Vocal Fry
If you find that you are using the vocal fry register, there are a few strategies you can use to begin eliminating it from your speech pattern.
- Use your breath. This is a fairly universal tip for good public speaking, but supporting your voice with proper breath will help your voice sound more resonant and full-bodied.
- Alter the focus of your voice. Hum and feel the hum in your face, rather than in your throat or larynx. Vocal fry happens at a fairly low register. If you focus on humming before you begin a sentence, you can reduce this creaky sound.
- Give attention to your whole sentence. Generally, when you start to taper off at the end of a phrase or sentence, you’re using less of your breath. This can result in vocal fry. Make sure you support the whole sentence with a full breath.
If you employ these tips and find that you’re still having issues with vocal fry, you should seek out a public speaking or vocal coach. At Successfully Speaking, we can help you speak more authoritatively through the elimination of vocal fry. Contact us to set up an appointment or learn more. www.successfullly-speaking.com