vocal fry

Have you ever heard someone who has vocal fry?

It’s when the edge of their voice cracks, creaks and fries–it’s quite unpleasant to listen to.

I want to explain how vocal fry works and how to stop it.

How you say something can be just as important as what you say. Vocal fry, or a shaky voice, has become a cultural epidemic that undermines our vocal power.

What is Vocal Fry?

Vocal fry happens when someone’s voice sounds raspy or creaky. It’s called “fry” because it sounds like bacon sizzling in a frying pan. It happens when there is not enough breath being pushed through the vocal cords. When we breathe, our vocal cords separate. Then when we are speaking, those cords rub together and the vibration creates sound. If you speak without enough breath, your vocal cords cannot rub together and they create a creaky, hollow sound. In vocal fry, it’s as if you are hearing someone’s vocal cords rattling next to each other.

Here’s the problem: Vocal fry is not just annoying for others to listen to, it’s also undermining you and your message. It is incredibly hard for people to take you seriously, listen to you and believe you when you speak with vocal fry. Why? Read on…

Vocal Fry Sounds Just Like Anxiety

When we are nervous or anxious, we tend to take shallow breaths, we tense our shoulders and jaw and lose volume. This causes vocal fry. We do not like listening to people with low confidence because we don’t want to catch it. Whether you actually are anxious or not, you have to stop vocal fry in its tracks because it makes you come across as anxious. The question is, how do you get rid of vocal fry? Here are a few of my favorite strategies.

Vocal Fry Exercises

The first thing you can do if you hear yourself going into vocal fry is immediately add more breath. We are especially prone to running out of breath at the end of sentences. Try this with me now:

  • Blow out all the air in your lungs.
  • Now say, “Hello, how are you?”
  • Now take in a deep breath and say, “Hello, how are you?” The breath immediately pumps up your volume and power.

The second thing you can do is support the end of your sentences. I hear vocal fry the most at the end of people’s sentences – vocal fry usually is not something you hear during an entire sentence. Nope, we tend to hear it at the end of a really, really long sentence, when someone has run out of breath. If you are speaking in a meeting or preparing for a speech, speak in shorter, more poignant sentences or take a pause for a deep breath as you speak to make sure you don’t lose breath at the end of your sentences.

The last strategy I have for combatting vocal fry is raising the pitch of your voice. Vocal fry tends to happen in the lowest part of our range. If you hear yourself going into vocal fry, move your pitch up to the middle of your range. If you really want to be a superstar, you also can try speaking in your maximum resonance point.

How Can You Stop Someone Else’s Vocal Fry?

Now I have a touchy subject. Maybe vocal fry isn’t a problem for you, but rather someone in your life is driving you absolutely crazy with their constant vocal fry! You have two options.

You can send them this article.

If you received this video or article from someone else, you are loved and you are wonderful. All you need is a little more breath.

If it feels too direct to send the article, the other option you have is asking them to speak up.

Sometimes when someone needs volume, they clear their throat, sit up and take in a breath. This often can give them enough breath to eliminate their vocal fry. If you notice your colleague goes into vocal fry in a pitch meeting, remind them that their points are important, they just need to add a bit more volume. It’s a secret solution for vocal fry.

Want more vocal power?

I have some amazing videos for you on vocal power. Please check them out right here!

To your resounding success,


Hi, I'm Vanessa!

Hi, I'm Vanessa!

Lead Investigator, Science of People

I'm the author of the national bestselling book Captivate, creator of People School, and human behavioral investigator in our lab.

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