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Imagine if I introduced myself to you and instead of saying:

Hi, I’m Dale Klein and I want to discuss uptalk.” I said:

“Hi, I’m Dale Klein and I want to discuss uptalk?

Although the words are the same, the delivery is what  makes the two statements sound different.  The first example is what is known as a declarative statement, ending with a period, spoken with a falling intonation pattern.  In contrast, the second example is what is known as an interrogative, ending with a question mark, spoken with a rising intonation pattern.  The use of a rising intonation pattern is generally reserved for questions or lists.  When this rising pattern is used for purposes other than questions or lists, it is referred to as “uptalk.”

While uptalk certainly isn’t a new trend, I’m finding it to be on the rise (no pun intended).  In the business world where credibility is critical, uptalk puts the speaker at a distinct disadvantage. The reason for this is that those who use uptalk are less interesting to their listeners, not to mention being distracting.  Additionally, those who speak with this pattern are often perceived as tentative and insecure.  It appears that they’re asking for approval, when in fact that may not be the case.

The challenge for most of my clients who exhibit uptalk is lacking awareness of how they sound. As I coach clients in this important communication skill I begin by recording them so they can hear what the rest of the world hears; that’s often the turning point.  Then we move on to incorporating practical strategies and exercises to replace this pattern with more effective speaking behaviors. With the right motivation, it can be done!

As always I look forward to your thoughts and comments on uptalk; what’s been your experience?  Can’t wait to hear from you!

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