While the uptalk speech pattern is nothing new, I seem to be hearing it more and more. Could it be affecting you?
1. a manner of speaking in which declarative sentences are uttered with rising intonation at the end, as if they were questions.
Basically your statements sound like questions.
Uptalk, aka high rising terminal, upspeak, rising inflection, or high rising intonation sounds like:
And for the super-extreme, over-the-top version:
Is it on the rise (oh god yes, pun intended) or am I just overly inflection-sensitive? Regardless, I really notice it and it does bother me. A lot.
And what’s worse is it is rumoured to have started over here on our little island called Australia. Apologies world; on behalf of my country. We even have an acronym for it—AQI or Australian Question Intonation. You know stuff just got real when there’s an acronym involved.
What exactly is my problem with it? It undermines what you are saying. It sounds like you don’t quite believe the words coming out of your own mouth. That you are willing to back down. Not confident. Or seeking some sort of approval.
Not a good sound for presentations, negotiations or leadership communication.
Stephen Fry also has a problem with it:
It also seems to effect more women than men.
Just the other day I overheard an over-enthusiastic meeting in my local coffee shop (read: I was eavesdropping) in which a young lady was explaining a new online ordering system to her colleagues:
“Once you add the item to your cart, you enter your credit card details? It’s really easy? I mean anyone can do it?”
Sorry lady, I’m not sold.
Come on sisters, let’s unite to fight the high rising terminal.
So what to do if you are struck down with the dreaded AQI?
- Firstly I’d suggest checking in with a friend to see if you are an uptalker or use the audio recorder on your phone to record yourself in conversation.
- Take note of any uptalk triggers—perhaps it’s only certain phrases, when you are with certain people or in certain situations where you don’t feel confident (such as giving a presentation or meeting with the boss).
- Then it’s about practice. Practice speaking statements clearly and confidently. Record yourself and listen back. Role play presentations or meetings beforehand to build confidence.
- Visualise. Visualise a confident speaker and emulate their style. Visualise a full stop when you speak (I used to have the opposite problem when I needed to add an upward inflection to voice overs and visualising a question mark or drawing one on the script solved it immediately).
- Finally, if you feel you aren’t improving and uptalk is impacting you in a negative way, it might be worth investing in a few sessions with a professional speech therapist.