Down with Uptalk


Almost immediately the speaker lost me.

I  had signed up for  a webinar on storytelling and was looking forward to it. Thinking I'd learn new tips, I made time in my day to tune in. It took a few minutes to demonstrate value, and I was patient with the introduction phase of the presentation. But from the very beginning the speaker's voice started to irritate me.

She was using uptalk. Uptalk is a pattern of speech which sounds like you're asking a a question instead of making a statement. Uptalk is a speech pattern heard in many teenage peer groups. So, it caused the presenter to lose credibility.  In addition, she spoke with a vocal fry, which is a gravelly, low pitched quality. Think Kim Kardashian.

The result was that I left the webinar. I couldn't listen to that for even 30 minutes. The information would have to be cutting edge research in order for me to listen until the end. Uptalk is sweeping the nation and I continually tell young audiences that this way of speaking doesn't serve anybody in the workplace. If I wasn't willing to listen to a free webinar on an interesting topic, Imagine the impact of uptalk when trying to influence a manager or prospect. 

When it comes to communication, the meta message is in the tone and not in the words. Uptalk communicates a lack of conviction and confidence and can taint a public speaker's brand. Maybe the speaker was an expert. I'll never know because I didn't have the interest to find out. By simply bringing the voice down at the end of a sentence a presenter will automatically sound more authoritative. It's a little tweak that can have a big impact.

Public speakers and communicators have the power to manage perception. To be heard as an expert it's not enough to know your subject. You need to sound confident. And to do that, hold on to this thought: Down, Sentence, Down.

To listen to my interview about Uptalk with Terry Brock, click here.