A significant proportion of patients admitted to intensive care units require tracheostomies for a variety of indications. Continual cuff inflation to facilitate mechanical ventilatory support may mean patients find themselves awake, cooperative and attempting to communicate but unable to do so effectively. Resulting frustration and anxiety can negatively impact upon care. Through participation in the Global Tracheostomy Collaborative, our unit rapidly implemented novel tech- niques facilitating communication in such patients. In carefully selected and controlled situations, the subglottic suction port of routinely available tracheostomy tubes can be used to deliver a retrograde flow of gas above the cuff to exit via the larynx, facilitating speech. The resulting above cuff vocalisation is described in detail for five general ICU patients at our institution, highlighting the benefits of multidisciplinary care and the increasingly important role of the speech and language therapists in the critically ill. © The Intensive Care Society 2015.