Project confidence-lose the upspeak

One issue I often encounter with clients looking to improve the professional tone of their speech is upspeak. This is when you say sentences that are a statement but end with a rising intonation (tone or pitch) like you would a question. Find my podcast at the end of this post.

Upspeak can be heard in both men and women, but it is most often associated with young women. It is common in The Valley of Southern California, but can be heard around the United States and even in Britain and Australia.

Speaking with upspeak can have some negative effects, including

  • Projecting a lack of confidence in yourself.
  • People doubting your knowledge of the subject.
  • Your audience becoming distracted from your message because they are caught up in your speech patterns rather than listening to your message.

There are a few things you can do to help reduce upspeak in your own speech patterns.

1. First, it’s important to recognize when you are doing it. There are three ways to find out: Record yourself and listen. Ask a colleague for honest feedback. Pay attention to your how your throat feels when speaking–does it feel like it is tightening with each sentence?

2. Practice saying the same sentence using the compare and contrast technique. Say a sentence with upspeak, then say a sentence with falling intonation.

3. Record yourself giving a short presentation on your skills. How did you sound? Did you sound confident? If no, try it again. Remember each statement should end with a flat or falling pitch.

Check out my Speakeasy podcast for more practice tips as I walk you through some examples.

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