Intonation – how you pitch your words – matters more than you may realize. When we listen to someone speak, we use intonation to distinguish between a question and a statement for instance (you can’t see the question marks after all). But we also determine the credibility and self confidence of a speaker by the intonation.
One growing trend is ‘upspeak’ or ‘uptalk’, a way of speaking where you end your sentences on a higher pitch or upward inflections, thus making it very similar to asking a question. In Australia, this is quite common and is known as AQI: Australian Question Intonation. But more and more people are using this way of speaking, especially teenagers. It makes everything they say sound like a question.
If you don’t know what upspeak is, check this funny upspeak-battle between Jimmy Kimmel and actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
As a speaker, using uptalk may damage your credibility. Research has shown that people find uptalk annoying and that it is associated with insecurity and emotional weakness. In short: upspeak makes you sound like you don’t know what you’re talking about.
Credibility is essential for speakers, especially when speaking to teens. Listen to yourself speak and make sure your voice goes down at the end of a sentence, not up.
Unless you’re really asking a question of course.