Public Speaking Information

Does Uptalk Make you Upchuck?


Uptalk is invading the work place and is reaching epidemic proportions. It's that singsong speech pattern that has a rising inflection at the end of sentence. It sounds like the speaker is asking a question instead of making a declaration.

Once the exclusive domain of teens, it is now a regular part of the adult world. And I don't mean Generation X. It's everywhere. It can be heard even at management levels and it's destroying their credibility.

Uptalk renders the speaker weak, tentative, lacking conviction and authority.
How can a person influence, lead, or command respect if they can't take a stand and sound like they mean it?

I've even heard it at networking meetings. It sounds like this: "Good morning. My name is Jane Doe? " Well is that your name or isn't it?
It takes seven seconds or less to make a first impression. Would you do business with someone who isn't sure of his/her own name?

According to one study, the voice is nearly 40% of the message. You can convey a message through your intonation alone! Next time someone asks a question, respond with a yes or no with only your tone. They will understand what you meant.

If you ask for a raise using uptalk you will remain at your present salary. If you try to sell a product, you will fail. If you direct your staff, they won't follow. Why? Because uptalk makes you sound like there are other options!

What causes a communicator to choose this pattern of speaking?

Habit. We don't always hear the way we speak and the affect it has on others. When I was invited to do a chat on ivillage.com, I posted my article, Ten Ways Women Sabotage Their Communication in the Workplace. Thinking these tips did not apply to her personally, a woman emailed the tips to her friend Her friend sent them back to her saying, "You have uptalk."


Foreign/Regional Accent.
If you are from the Southern United Statesor from a country like Canada,India or China, you may have a rising inflection as part of your cultural speech pattern. This is more difficult to change but can be conquered with ear training, practice, and professional coaching.

Peer Identity. This is most often the case with teens and children. They tend to identify with the group and will adapt the speech patterns they hear on television as in the case of the show Clueless. Many parents are frustrated by their attempts to teach their children to speak correctly. Uptalk is a way of sounding like their peers and not like their family.


Insecurity. The voice is the greatest barometer of emotions. When you lack confidence it will show up in the voice. In our politically correct environment people are becoming less willing to take a stand. By using "safe words" and a rising inflection, the speaker can easily back petal or soften the real intent of the message. In selling, a fear of rejection may show up in the form of uptalk.


There is no value in using uptalk. When you bring your voice down at the end of a sentence, you will automatically sound more authoritative and confident. People will hear the conviction in your voice and will take you seriously. Your credibility will improve and you'll be more persuasive.

Copyright Diane DiResta 2001. All rights reserved.


Diane DiResta, President of New York-based DiResta Communications, Inc. is an International speaker, coach, and author of Knockout Presentations:How to Deliver Your Message with Power, Punch, and Pizzazz. (Chandler House Press). http://www.diresta.com


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