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Speaking Tips – Too Nasal? How to Modify an Unpleasant Voice

Along with what you say, the way you sound has a profound effect on other people’s perception of you. If you speak ‘through your nose’ with a nasally rasp it can sap your confidence and make you reluctant to speak out at work or in social situations.

So how do you develop a clear voice and prevent reediness? Daily vocal exercises can make a real difference to the way you speak.

Exercise Your Larynx

Standing upright, take a deep breath and say the following: “me me me me me me me me” until all the air has expired.

Now pinch the bridge of your nose. Repeat the exercise, but this time exhale through your nose only, so that no air escapes through the nostrils.

Alternate between doing this with your nose pinched and then without, so that you get used to feeling the difference between the two.

The Power of Repetition

Another useful task is to over exaggerate vowel and consonant pronunciation. Here is an exercise we use in the voice over industry to sharpen vocal performance. Try putting together combinations of letters in bite-size formations.

For example: ABT EBT IBT OBT UBT.

Only pronounce the phonetic sound of each letter. So the letter B would be delivered as a hard short “B” and not said as “bee”. Work through the above getting faster and faster.

Doing tongue twisters such as “Peter Piper picked a pickled pepper” can be useful too.

Monitor Your Progress

Because our brains tend to make us sound better than we are, try and record your vocal exercises so you can keep an eye (or more accurately ear) on how you are doing. Most modern mobile phones, particularly smartphones have a recording device in-built.

Before you start recording make sure you feel relaxed and you are in a comfortable environment. Take regular sips of tepid water and if you feel you are straining your voice, stop and rest. Small incremental steps are always much better than giant unsustainable leaps.

Gradually you should find the quality of your speech is improving. You are aiming for a crisp delivery with a clear resonance.

You Are What You Eat and Drink

We often underestimate the influence of food and drink on our vocal patterns. Lactose and high fat content beverages, such as milk, shakes, hot chocolate, cappuccinos and lattes can all give you that blocked up nose feeling… and sound. So can fatty red meats and stodgy puddings or milky desserts.

Avoid these, or at least cut-down if you can. Replace with non-carbonated drinks and add in more leafy vegetables and citrus fruit. A fresh palate can do wonders for your vocal clarity.

However if, after doing these exercises, you still sound nasal you may have a physiological condition which needs medical attention. If this is the case it is worth seeking medical advice from your doctor.

Gary Terzza