What does it mean when someone says your voice sounds nasal? Have you heard people with nasal voices speak in the media?
In reality, it means that you sound like you are talking through your nose. In anatomical terms ,it means your soft palate is not making strong contact with the back of your mouth, and hence there is air escaping through the nose when you speak.
Do you know if your voice is nasal or not? Try this exercise below.
- Try saying /ah/ sound , with your mouth side open.
- Pinch your nostrils together.
- When you pinch your nostrils, the sound /ah/ should not stop, or change quality. That means all the air is coming through your mouth, rather than your nose.
Some people speak naturally that way due to their anatomy, or some have learnt habits or cultural influences. Quite a few Australians speak using a nasal tone, meaning they lose air through their nose, and it is a culturally usual manner of speaking.
So, the question is, how do you sound less nasal? How do you sound like you are talking through your mouth, rather than nose? How do you come up with a nice clear resonant voice, that makes your sound powerful and gets your listened to?
The simple answer is that the soft palate needs to make enough contact with the back of your mouth, and it also needs to be in a dome shape, rather than lowered.
So, how do we do it?
YAWNING is the answer! But how do we do it?
Firstly, we need the throat to be nice and relaxed. The throat, also known as the pharynx, sits just above the larynx ( the voice box). An open throat encourages relaxation of the muscles, which help us with speaking and projecting our voices. For tips on how to get into a nice relaxed posture for your head and neck, read one of my previous posts. When you open up your vocal tract, your nasality reduces, and your pitch changes. Here are the following steps that you can take to yawn and hum away, to reduce your nasality.
- Create a yawn feeling, and go ahead and have a nice stretch and yawn
- Instead of fully opening the mouth at the front, keep the lips in a /u/ shape.
- Exhale the yawn, in a /u/ shape, and then follow it up with /m/ sound. So you are ending in a hum.
- Repeat the cycle a few times. Yawn in /u/ shape, exhale in /u/ shape, and then end off with a hum /m/ shape.
- The alternating pattern of air going through mouth and the nose, will get your soft palate working and opening.
I have done a video explaining how you do this exercise above. Please click on the link here to check out my video on how to sound less nasal. I look forward to reading your comments and questions, email me or comment below. Have fun yawning!