What’s the big deal about vocal fry?

Vocal fry. It’s a hot topic, and not just among Speech-Language professionals. It’s become a mainstream topic of conversation and media coverage.

You may be wondering what the big deal is or how it pertains to you. Keep reading to learn more.

To fry or not to fry: The controversy around vocal fry

Vocal fry is a low-pitched, creaky sound at the end of a thought or sentence. It’s most associated with college women aged 18-25 or celebrities such as the Kardashians. (Here’s a clip demonstrating vocal fry.) It was initially judged as a negative behavior that needs to be eliminated, but new reports suggest that people who speak with vocal fry should leave their voices just the way they are.

This has led to some controversy, leading to media coverage and awareness in the mainstream population. Vocal fry is most common among young women, though young men use the speech pattern as well. For people over 40 it can sound irritating, while young people find it acceptable, even desirable.

A recent study illustrates the divide: college-age Americans said vocal fry made the speaker sound “educated, urban-oriented and upwardly mobile.” But in the job market, women who spoke with vocal fry were perceived as less competent, less educated, less trustworthy, and less hirable.

Vocal fry may affect you, if you’re a man or woman over 40 making decisions on hiring or promotions. As the study suggests, people of all ages form opinions of others based on how they speak, including during job interviews. You may want to think about how you view vocal fry and whether it is influencing your decision of  otherwise qualified candidates.

Are you in the “Over 40” age group?

If you’re a man or woman over 40, you may want to ask yourself:

  • Do you believe young adults should modify their voices to conform to professional standards (like appearance or body language)?
  • Are you forming opinions about others based on how they sound?
  • Are your opinions influencing decisions about hiring or promotions?

With awareness you will be able to better determine how you feel, and make the decisions that are right for you.

Do you like how you sound? Is your voice communicating the confidence you feel, or is it undermining your message? Do you need help evaluating your speaking voice? Let’s find out together. Email me to set up a free consultation.