It has been interesting for me to hear how many people think they have a nasal voice when in fact they do not. The reason this happens is because the voice they hear in their head when they speak (which is how they think they sound) is deeper in pitch than the one they hear on their answering machine, voicemail, or some other form or recording equipment. And, once they hear their recorded sound, the higher pitch makes them believe – rightly or wrongly – that their voice exhibits nasality.
Whether you actually do have some nasal tendencies or even excessive nasality, there is a test you can do right this minute to see if you are nasal.
Place your index fingers – gently, no pressure whatsoever – on each side of your nose and say the word bay. Did you feel any vibration in your nose? Remember, your fingers should just graze your nose. If you place any pressure on your nose, it will vibrate no matter what you say!
This time, fingers in the same place, say the word bee. Did you vibrate?
In both cases, there should be no vibration. Words that will produce some nasal quality or vibration include any words with an n, m, or ng sound. In the English language, these 3 sounds are known as our nasals; therefore, words such as Maine, name, and ring will vibrate.
Words such as bay and bee, however, should not produce nasality because they do not belong in your nose. In some areas of the country, the long e, the long a, and the short a, as in the word ask, sometime result in nasality even though that particular locale may not be considered a nasal one.
We all know that those who hail from the New York and New Jersey areas have a reputation for excessive nasality; however, the Midwest is plagued with a short a sound that often comes through the nose and Detroit tends to throw their long e and long a up there as well.
Nasality is often likened to nails on a blackboard, resulting in a higher-pitched, strident quality. If you are exhibiting some nasality (or a lot) even though you don’t hail from the Big Apple, you might consider changing that whiny characteristic. Learn to enunciate along the floor of your mouth and keep your non-nasal sounds out of your nose. Your listeners will thank you for it and you may actually enjoy hearing yourself on your voicemail!
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. Visit Voice Dynamic and watch Nancy as she describes how to get rid of the nasal in your voice.
Additional Resources covering Public Speaking can be found at: