As I rode into work, NPR News introduced me to a new concept: Vocal Fry. Vocal fry describes a practice using a creaky, raspy, and low vocal sounds at the end of a sentence. It is a practice used more commonly by millenials and by women. Rachel Martin , Host of NPR Weekend Edition, interviewed Rose Eveleth about the impact vocal fry has on the perception of trustworthiness.
While several articles on vocal fry have been published, the study making news and discussed in the NPR interview was published in PLOS ONE, a peer reviewed journal. The conclusion of the study is that when compared to a normal speaking voice, vocal fry speech is perceived as being less trustworthy, less competent, less educated, less attractive, and less hirable.
A key finding in the study is that women were judged more negatively than men when using vocal fry. We know women are judged more harshly than men and that men tend to leap to judgement and view things in black and while, while women tend to see things in shades of grey.
We need to create awareness that this pattern of communication exists and that those who engage in this speech are viewed negatively.
The outcome of the study describes the impact vocal fry has on interviewing and job prospects. What should you do during an interview? Talk in your normal voice. People react to your normal voice more positively and find it more appealing than an unusual or distinct voice. As a result, people respond to you more positively when you sound natural. Of course there is more to an interview than your voice.
In the HBR’s, “Guide to Getting a Job,” provides answers to common issues when seeking employment. During interviews, use stories to illustrate your strengths. Find common interests and mirror your communication with the interviewer’s communication. Realize you will be aksed about your weaknesses so think ahead.
Most of all, if we learn to speak vocal fry, we can also learn to stop practicing it. Be conscious of your speech patterns and focus on using your natural voice.