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Out of the vocal frying pan and into the silence

My voice is one of the tools of my trade. Twice this week I’ve been called on to ‘lift’ a script off the page and bring corporate messages to life armed only with variations in pitch, tone, pace and intonation.

It’s interesting and challenging work which I love and which makes me hyper aware of the power of the voice as a communication tool.

In the training room I help others to maximise the potential of their vocal chords – sometimes a tricky job. But in 20 years as a trainer, I’ve never come across ‘vocal fry’. If you don’t know what it is either, read this excellent article – http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jul/24/vocal-fry-strong-female-voice

While I don’t feel that it’s a feminist issue, I do agree that this particular speech pattern is deeply irritating, along with so-called ‘uptalk’ (rising intonation at the end of sentences); overuse of the word ‘like’ (was it like green or actually green???) and ‘run-ons’ (basically a stream of consciousness with no pauses for breath). As the article suggests, these verbal ticks undermine women’s credibility and form a barrier to effective communication.

So, how can sufferers help themselves? I believe in this area silence might really be golden.

Getting comfortable with pauses is one of the greatest challenges for any speaker/communicator. But it can be incredibly empowering to hold your audience in the palm of your hand during a moment of silence. The only way to nail this is practice and that means rehearsing (even for example what you’re going to say during an informal coffee meeting with a client/colleague/boss). Rehearse out loud – in the kitchen, in the shower, walking down the street, in the car. Learn to love those pauses and banish vocal fry!