How to Fix a Nasal Speaking Voice

nasal speaking voice

The sound produced by your voice when speaking results from the coordinated activity of numerous muscles and bones in your mouth, throat, and chest. It involves air exiting the lungs, passing through the throat and vocal cords, and finally entering the mouth. The soft palate, positioned at the rear of the roof of the mouth, can ascend while speaking. This mechanism can affect the amount of air that enters the nose according to the sounds produced during speech.

In contrast to singing, our speaking voices are not often judged based on how it sounds. However, effective communication requires clear and resonant speech, which can significantly influence others' perceptions of us. The way we speak can make or break a deal. This is where a nasal speaking voice can become a potential issue. This annoying nasal voice is primarily produced through the nose as opposed to the mouth; that nasal resonance creates that nasal quality in your speaking voice. It occurs when your tongue and soft palate are so near to one another, preventing sound waves from traveling from your throat to the mouth and instead being sent to your nasal cavity.

In this article, we will discuss what causes you to be nasal-sounding, identifying its signs, and how you can fix your nasal speaking voice. So, if you want to understand and further improve your speaking voice, continue reading, and we'll take you through it.


Key takeaways:

  • Several factors can cause a person to have a nasal speaking voice
  • Recognizing the signs of a nasal speaking voice is crucial to make necessary adjustments
  • Seeking professional help allows for customized medications according to your specific condition and needs


Table of Contents

  1. Understanding the Causes of Nasal Speaking Voice
  2. Identifying the Signs of a Nasal Speaking Voice
  3. Tips for Improving Nasal Speaking Voice
  4. Get Your Voice Out of Your Nose


Understanding the Causes of Nasal Speaking Voice

A nasal speaking voice, or hyper - nasality, is caused by the narrowing of the airway in the back of your throat, which restricts airflow and forces sound to travel through your nose instead. This can be due to a number of reasons, including genetics and environmental factors. Let's take a look at them one by one.


Incorrect Positioning of the Tongue

Typically, the tongue is against the back of the upper teeth and lightly touch the roof of the mouth when at rest when your mouth is closed. If it remains in this position or is too far forward during speech, it can block off airflow through the mouth, forcing the sound to travel through your nose instead. It can also cause you to overuse your nasal cavity as you speak, resulting in a nasal sounding voice. Alternatively, if the back of the tongue is raised and sits too close to the soft palate, this can also result in a nasal sound quality.


Misaligned Jaw

A misalignment of the lower jaw, known as malocclusion, can cause an imbalance between the upper and lower jaws. This condition is caused by genetics but can also be the result of poor oral habits such as thumb-sucking. In turn, it can lead to a blocked-off airflow through your mouth.


Hypertrophy of the Soft Palate

Hypertrophy of the soft palate is a condition where the soft tissues of the back of your throat enlarge, restricting airflow through your mouth and forcing the sound to travel through your nose instead. This condition usually occurs due to repeated exposure to irritants or allergens in the air, such as smoke or dust. In some cases, it can also be caused by poor vocal technique.


Deviated Septum

A deviated septum is a condition where the thin wall of cartilage and bone that divides the nasal cavity is crooked. It can cause one side of the nose to be blocked more than the other, making it difficult for air to pass through and resulting in a nasal voice. This condition is often caused by an injury or trauma that shifts the septum out of alignment.


Vocal Cord Issues

Alterations in the resonance of the vocal cords can impact sound production and airflow, potentially resulting in a nasal speaking voice. These issues can be caused by vocal nodules, polyps, or cysts from incorrect placement of the vocal cords while speaking or due to misuse, strain, or inflammation. Vocal cord problems may cause a breathy or nasal sound because of the increased airflow passing through these cords.


Poor Breathing Control

Breathing is a significant factor in vocal production. If you are not breathing correctly, it can lead to air escaping through the nose instead of the mouth, resulting in a nasal-sounding voice. Poor breathing control can be caused by incorrect diaphragm engagement or an inability to relax the throat and neck muscles. It can cause you to rely more on nasal airflow and less on oral airflow.


Allergies or Sinus Congestion

Obstruction in the nose can take place when you have allergies, sinus infections, and colds. It can result in inflammation of the nasal passages, reducing the space for air to travel through your nose and causing you to have a hyponasal voice. When the nasal passages are congested, there is not enough nasal resonance in the speaking voice, resulting in a muffled sound. Allergens such as dust, pollen, and pet dander can trigger nasal congestion and lead to sinus symptoms. This can be further exacerbated by cold weather or air conditioning.


Identifying the Signs of a Nasal Speaking Voice

Recognizing the indications of a nasal speaking voice is essential as it enables you to implement the required adjustments for correction. If you suspect you may have a nasal speaking voice, there are some signs to look out for.


Limited Vocal Range

A limited vocal range can be indicative of a nasal speaking voice. This is because the vocal cords often cannot reach their fullest potential as their ability to shorten and lengthen becomes restricted. As a result, you may be unable to hit certain notes or speak in certain ranges, leading to a more limited range of vocal ability.


Lack of Resonance

A lack of resonance indicates a nasal speaking voice, resulting in a shallow and incomplete sound, lacking the liveliness typically found in non-nasal speech. This occurs when the sound waves cannot properly vibrate through the entire vocal tract and throat, resulting in a dull or flat-sounding voice. Instead of creating an open, resonant sound, it will be more compressed due to the lack of air traveling through the mouth.


Difficulty Pronouncing Certain Sounds

With hyponasal speech, you may experience difficulty pronouncing certain sounds. This is because the air cannot travel through the nose as it should. This can make it difficult to pronounce "m," "n," and "ng" sounds, as well as other words with nasal consonants that require nasal resonance.


Muffled or Blocked Sound

With hyponasal resonance, the sound of your voice may be muffled or blocked because of the constriction of the nasal passages, which prevents any air at all from traveling through the nasal cavity and forces it completely through the mouth instead. The result is that your speech sounds muted and blocked. 


Tips for Improving Nasal Speaking Voice

You can take several steps to improve your nasal speaking voice and restore the natural resonance of your speech. Following these tips will help to alleviate any vocal problems you may be experiencing.


Breathing Exercises

Breathing exercises can be used to improve the quality of your speaking voice. Proper breathing techniques are vital for controlling airflow. It can also help you to regulate your breathing more effectively and prevent too much air from escaping through the nose. Some valuable exercises include the following deep breathing techniques to encourage the diaphragm to work correctly and increase lung capacity:

  • Diaphragmatic Breathing Exercises. This practice focuses on engaging the diaphragm while breathing to enhance breath support and control. It allows you to practice proper exhalation techniques for producing a full and resonant sound.
  • Breath Control Exercises. Performing exercises that involve sustaining and controlling airflow can help balance the muscles around the vocal cords. This aids in creating a more powerful and resonant sound as you speak. You can do this by taking some time each day to perform exercises that engage the airways and vocal cords.


Vocal Warm-Up Exercises

Vocal warm-up exercises are essential to improving and maintaining a healthy speaking voice. They help prepare the vocal cords for use, stretching and strengthening them to produce clear, harmonious sounds. By engaging in these exercises regularly, you can condition your vocal cords to remain flexible and improve the quality of your speech. Some useful warm-up exercises include the ones on the list below.

  • Lip Trills and Buzzing Sound. Lip trills involve holding your lips together with just enough tension while creating sound, allowing air to escape through the mouth as a gentle vibration. This exercise helps to engage the vocal cord muscles and improve resonance. Meanwhile, buzzing sounds are also beneficial to activate facial muscles and encourage them to remain relaxed while speaking.
  • Tongue Twisters and Articulation Exercises. Repeating specific phrases can train the tongue to move quickly and articulate sounds more clearly. Additionally, these exercises help to build strength in the muscles used when producing speech, allowing for a smoother transition between words and a more precise enunciation of certain sounds. Articulation exercises focus on pronouncing individual sounds correctly and encouraging the muscles producing them to work more efficiently.
  • Humming and Resonance Exercises. Humming and resonance exercises are designed to help improve the tone of your voice by engaging the facial muscles and encouraging resonance throughout the vocal tract. Humming or singing in different tones can help with this since it stretches the vocal cords and stimulates better vibration. These exercises can also help you practice controlling your breath while speaking.


Nasal Decongestion Techniques

Nasal decongestion techniques are an important part of improving the quality of your speaking voice. By reducing congestion in the nasal cavities, airflow is enhanced. It can help remove any blockages that may prevent your voice from sounding its best. Some practical techniques include the following:

  • Neti Pot. This nasal irrigation device can help to flush out any blockages in the nasal passages. It can be an effective remedy for allergies that cause mucus buildup in your nasal cavity. They work by gently pouring a saline or saltwater solution through one nostril and allowing it to exit out of the other. This helps to loosen congestion and reduce inflammation, allowing for more open airways during speaking.
  • Steam Inhalation. This practice is a quick and easy way to help clear your nasal passages. You can do this by boiling water in a pot or using an electric steamer and then draping a towel over your head, creating a tent-like structure. This allows the steam to be inhaled directly into the nose as it rises, loosening any mucus or blockages that may be present. It can also help to reduce inflammation in the airways, allowing for an improved speaking voice.
  • Saline Nasal Rinses. You can use saline nasal rinses as a great way to reduce congestion and improve the tone of your voice. To do this, you can purchase nasal kits that come with a squeeze bottle. This helps to thin mucus and loosen any blockages that may be present. It can also help reduce inflammation in the airways, allowing for improved airflow and a smoother voice. Some rinses that are without a squeeze bottle are better paired with the neti pots, too.
  • Nasal Strips and Sprays. Nasal strips and sprays are another way to reduce congestion in the nasal passages. Nasal strips work by gently adhering to the outside of the nostrils, lifting them outward, and allowing for improved airflow. Meanwhile, decongestant sprays help to reduce inflammation in the airways, allowing for better breathing during speaking.


Speaking Techniques

To improve your voice, it's important to practice proper speaking techniques. Doing so helps to activate the right muscles in the face and throat, allowing for better resonance and smoother transitions between words. Various activities can be practiced to improve speaking.

  • Mouth Opening Exercises. Speaking correctly starts with proper mouth and tongue placement. To improve this, you can practice mouth-opening exercises that help develop better muscle control and coordination. These include movements such as smiling wide, puckering your lips, and pulling back the corners of your mouth. This helps to create clearer pronunciation of certain sounds. It also helps encourage sound to resonate in the oral rather than the nasal cavity.
  • Resonance Exercises. Resonance exercises are designed to help improve the tone of your voice by engaging the facial muscles and encouraging resonance throughout the vocal tract. These can be done by speaking, humming, vocalizing, or singing various tones and vowel sounds, which helps to stretch the vocal cords and encourages them to vibrate more efficiently. Moreover, these exercises can also help you practice controlling your breath while speaking.
  • Articulation Exercises. Proper articulation is essential when it comes to speaking clearly and effectively. To improve this, you can practice a variety of exercises that help to develop better control over your tongue and lips. These activities enable you to speak more slowly, enunciate words correctly, and better control the volume of your voice as you reduce nasal resonance.


Seeking Professional Help

If you've tried all these remedies and your nasal speaking voice still isn't improving, it may be time to seek professional help. You can find various professionals with different expertise, specialized to help you with speech-related issues.

  • Speech Therapist or Vocal Coach. A speech therapist or vocal coach is an expert in helping you identify the source of your nasal speaking voice and develop a practice plan to improve it. Regular sessions can also help you learn proper breathing techniques, good articulation and pronunciation exercises, and resonance exercises to help you improve the tone of your voice.
  • Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) Specialist. ENT doctors can help diagnose any underlying medical issues causing your nasal speaking voice. They may recommend treatments such as medications or even surgery to help relieve your symptoms. Additionally, they may be able to provide guidance on lifestyle changes, such as avoiding allergens or improving your diet, that could enhance your voice quality.
  • Allergist or Immunologist. Allergists and immunologists specialize in diagnosing and treating allergies, which can be another cause of a nasal speaking voice. An allergy test can help determine if your symptoms are an allergic reaction to something in the environment or a result of an autoimmune disorder. An allergist can provide treatments such as immunotherapy or medications to reduce inflammation and congestion in the nasal passages.


Get Your Voice Out of Your Nose

Improving a nasal speaking voice is vital in establishing effective communication and expressing yourself. Taking the time to understand its causes, practicing proper speaking and breathing techniques, and seeking professional help will allow you to better address any underlying issues causing your nasal and speech-related concerns. With the appropriate guidance, you can learn how to improve your voice quality, gain more confidence in your speech, and become the compelling speaker you are meant to be.