There is no question that excessive nasality, also known as hypernasality, can be like nails on a blackboard. Just listen to Fran Drescher for any great length of time and you may find that her whiny, nasal sound becomes quite annoying.
There are 3 sounds in the English language which should vibrate in your nose to some degree. They include the n, m, and ng sounds. What this means is that any word with those sounds will vibrate in the nares or nasal passages. Words like rain, native, and finger are examples in which you will feel some vibration.
The problem with excessive nasality is when sounds other than the nasals are vibrating in the nose. In some cases, it may be words with the long e or the long a sound. In other cases, all sounds are passing through the nares. And, where you live often determines what sounds are the culprits. What this means is that you don't have to live in 1 of the 5 boroughs of New York City to exhibit excess nasality when you talk.
To see if you are vibrating, place a finger on each side of your nose - no pressure, just graze your nose - and say the word hay. Now say the word he. Did you feel any vibration on either or both of those words? If so, you should try the exercise below; however, before attempting it, you need to determine the status of your jaw.
Place your hands on the side of your face right under your ears. Clench your teeth together and feel the knot. This is a tight jaw. Now open your mouth, drop your jaw and notice how the knot disappears. That is a relaxed mouth.
1. Say the word hay with great exaggeration, sending it right up through your nose.
2. Now open your mouth, drop your jaw, feel the knot disappear, and say the word hay again, sending it along the floor of your mouth. Your tongue should be lying on the floor of your mouth.
You should practice this exercise saying your name, a nursery rhyme, the words to a song or even your personal introduction over and over until you become very aware of the difference in sound. If you are doing this correctly, it will work. Your goal is to get your inner ear (how you hear yourself) to be able to distinguish the excessive nasality to normal nasal sound.
As simple as this exercise is, training your voice by first exaggerating the sound and then gliding along the floor of your mouth is one of the most effective ways to eliminate a nasal whine.
The Voice Lady Nancy Daniels offers private, corporate and group workshops in voice and presentation skills as well as Voicing It!, the only video training program on voice improvement. If you would like to hear the difference in a nasal versus non-nasal voice, watch Katie's dramatic Before & After Video at Voice Dynamic.