Speaking voice issues - spitting and lack of volume?
February 10, 2014 1:19 PM   Subscribe

I think I have developed a bad habit of spittle / spitting when talking. Its particularly bad when at restaurants or say the pub when there is a lot of noise and I feel I have to yell to be heard. I'm a late 30s male, in London and this has been happening for years. What can I do to fix this?

Its sort of making me a rather socially awkward and I feel unable to participate in conversations in those environments for fear of spraying spittle / saliva over everyone. When I do talk I notice that people often end up wiping their faces immediately afterwards.

I once asked a girlfriend about it - but she denied it - i.e. said that I did not spit when talking. But I never really believed her.

I generally find it difficult to speak loudly without yelling, and feel like I have a sort of false/ "head voice". so believe its related to lack of speaking from the diaphragm / chest. ie that the lack of presence / proper projection is being overcome by yelling and causing the spitting. I do often feel like I have a very raspy voice in the morning after just a short meal with friends, where I wasn't even talking much. But was attempting to talk loudly.

Clearly everyone occasionally has some spitting when they talk but I feel like its every time I say anything at all. And I think the phobia is making it worse as I feel a sort of tightness and restricted chest in environments where I "might have to speak soon".

- Should I see a speech therapist? - how does one do that in the UK?

- If I can improve my vocal loudness / projection will that help? voice coach?

- Is it real, is it all in my head? My current girlfriend has never said anything about it. Why not? Its hard to bring it up with her.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I would say head to a speech therapist as they can help with both word formation (spittle) and volume. Sorry, no clue how to get seen in the UK.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 1:38 PM on February 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

From your description, it sounds like you're pushing sound from your throat instead of your diaphragm. A voice coach is probably in order, because you're going to need to fix a long held behavior. In the meantime some singing lessons or breathing exercises for singers would probably help. (I had singing lessons as a kid and can easily project my voice to the back of the class for a 4 hour lecture without fatigue. It's all about the breath support.)

I've noticed that I can get a little spitty when my mouth is super dry - which makes no sense but there you go. Light sips of water or herbal tea might work for you.
posted by 26.2 at 1:50 PM on February 10, 2014

The spittle part might be in your head, it's hard to say. People touch/wipe their faces during conversation for all kinds of reasons, including their own nervousness about maybe having a blemish or crumbs or something on their face.

I would test this out by taping a piece of paper to the wall, and standing about as far away from it as you would stand to someone you're speaking to. Talk for a little while, and then see if there are a lot of droplets on the paper.
posted by Bentobox Humperdinck at 2:00 PM on February 10, 2014 [3 favorites]

I worry about this too. I occasionally notice specks of spittle flying from my mouth when I talk. I have asked other people about it. No one else notices at all. I think it's just me being oversensitive to something that happens to everyone, because I don't want to be gross. Hopefully the same is true for you.
posted by Because at 9:44 PM on February 10, 2014

There are two ways to see a speech therapist in the UK for this problem - via the NHS or privately.

You would need a voice therapist probably, since your main issue seems to be around lack of projection. The way in for this is to go to your GP, say you're having problems with your voice. You should be referred to an Ear, Nose and Throat doctor (ENT) to have a look at your vocal cords to make sure there is nothing organically wrong. If there is (and don't think scary thoughts here, the most likely is something like acid reflux irritating your voicebox) then they will try to treat that. If they think there is a problem with how you are using your voice, they may refer you to an NHS speech therapist for voice therapy focusing on technique and voice care.

There are several reasons why you might want to go private instead. In some areas, GPs are reluctant to refer for voice therapy because they don't consider it good value for money (even though it's unusual in therapies in actually being curative in many cases), or there may be long waiting lists or very few sessions if the service is under pressure.

Once you have had your ENT examination, you have the option of paying for private speech therapy. You can search for one here. It's worth giving NHS therapy a go first because a) it's free and b) most highly specialist voice therapists will have an NHS practice because they aren't likely to see enough patients privately to see only voice. If you want more at the end then they might be willing to direct you appropriately.

I have to confess that if you came to me for voice therapy, I wouldn't have a firm idea how to fix the spitting and would probably work on breath support and making it easier for you to project and then hope it improves.
posted by kadia_a at 10:49 PM on February 10, 2014

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