Uptalk is Detrimental Even in High School

I received this email from a high school student.

I am a junior in the Behavior Social Seminar program in Roslyn High School. I am currently investigating the perceptions of upspeak and came across your work in Ezine articles. The article was titled "Does Uptalk Make You Upchuck?". I was wondering if you would be able to tell me where you found your information regarding upspeak. Where did you find evidence that upspeak would cause others to have a negative perception of you? Your assistance would be greatly appreciated. Thank You. S.S.

Here was my response:

Dear S.S.

I know uptalk is a problem because companies send me professionals and executives who are not coming across powerfully.
When I work with them, uptalk is often one of their issues. I worked with one woman who couldn't get promoted to Vice President until she came across more powerfully. She learned how to speak with authority and got promoted.

In addition, there have been other reports about this communication pattern. I was interviewed by the London Guardian several years ago. Apparently it's a problem there as well. You can google them.

When I ask people about their perceptions of uptalk it's always negative. To sound authoritative the intonation goes down at the end of a sentence.
If your intonation goes up, it sounds as if you're asking a question. It's also known that a deeper voice sounds more authoritative than a higher pitch.

If you're looking for empirical studies you can check some of the communication journals although I don’t know of any.
As a research project, you could audiotape girls or women with and without uptalk. Have them say the same thing so that content is not a factor.
Then ask strangers which person is more confident, successful, etc.

Tally the results. I'll bet I can predict the outcome. This could be an interesting science project for you.

Thank you for contacting me.
If you'd like more tips on speaking you can read my book Knockout Presentations.

Best regards,
Diane DiResta www.diresta.com