Vocal Fry

Talking in a “vocal fry” speak can actually hurt your chances of finding a job. IMG: via Shutterstock.

We’ve all heard “Valley Girl” speak, surfer talk, the incessant use of the word “like”. None are particularly well received, but they aren’t exactly troublesome either. But what about the vocal fry? You know, the deepening of your voice (and most common in females) where the vocal chords flutter and the speaker sounds like they are confusing themselves. (Here’s a great example of the vocal fry.)

Did you know it is actually hurting people’s (well, let’s be honest – young women’s) chances at becoming gainfully employed?

A study done by Duke University and the University of Miami (and published in the online journal PLOS) showed that people are more likely to connect with, and trust, a person who speaks in a “normal” speaking tone. Researchers asked seven male and seven female young adults to say the phrase “Thank you for considering me for this opportunity” with both their normal voices and in the vocal fry. Afterward, 800 men and women were asked to determine which speaker sounded more competent, educated and trustworthy (among other things). I bet you can guess which voices the subject preferred.

More than 80% of the time, the female and male “normal” voices were deemed more honest and appealing than their vocal fry counterparts. When asked if they would hire the speakers with the vocal fry, there was a resounding NO. And, of course, the negative perceptions were stronger with the female speakers, with their harshest critics being the female listeners.

So many reasons could be attributed to why people are turned off by the vocal fry, such as studies showing women with higher voices are considered more attractive (even though other studies have shown that deeper voices on women are more attractive when it comes to professionalism – go figure). But that doesn’t matter. What does matter is it’s proving to be a real turn off.

So if you want to be taken seriously, be considered professional or you just want a job, then you may want to cut out the vocal fry for good.