Recently, a potential client and I had a conversation about their concern about ‘up-speak’. It had been pointed out to them by their partner, and was bothersome because they are preparing for a career shift and have interviews upcoming. They stated, “It’s important to get a handle on this because it’s not a good thing to do when interviewing, since they may think I don’t know what I’m talking about”
This is a very legitimate concern.
Up-speak is when a statement is said as if it was a question. Instead of using a neutral or downward pitch inflection for a statement, such as "I love the sunshine. the speaker goes up in pitch at the end of the statement, which we perceive as akin to the upward inflection of a question, as if "I love the sunshine?" (listen to my examples below!)
Some speakers do this without even realizing it, and it can disrupt communication intent as the listener may doubt what the speaker is saying, doubt their expertise, or not take them seriously. As you can imagine, in a job interview setting, conveying credibility is a key component.
Up-speak can be resolved in a fairly short time. There are some speaker trainers and voice coaches who will do a cursory technique to help the person reduce the frequency of up-speak. This falls into the precarious ‘quick fix or band-aid’ approach territory and can remain very surface-level.
Yet often, surface-level does not stamp out underlying factors, nor, elicit long-lasting change. Those of you who know me, (and those getting to know me!) will know that I am not here for band-aid approaches and I do not believe we need to be “fixed”, let alone expect an ingrained habitual way of speaking to disappear quickly.
Staying curious and open-minded, the potential client and I discussed what may be contributing to this feature in their way of speaking. It was revealed while recently working as a customer service representative in a toxic job, fielding lots of frustrations from customers, they felt difficulty speaking up for themselves felt themselves holding back from what they really wanted to say and feared the response of the listener.
I validated their experiences and asked them to consider what long-term consequence may occur if nothing changed:
They said, “Self doubt would persist”
Then, I asked them to consider what is a positive consequence of releasing the self-doubt by addressing the up-speak: They said “Well, if I was more conscious of the way I talk, there would be less questioning, and I would feel more authoritative, which is important to me”
The reasons for up-speak can be varied and unique to each person. They may doubt themselves, they may have been criticized for what they say or how they are saying it, they may just be nervous and their voice shifts intonation up when they don’t mean for it.
The way I approach this is from the sound of their voice, AND the underlying beliefs that may be lurking, and then ensure there is consistent practice in the speaking mode they desire.
This is a wonderful example where a goal like reducing up-speak and enhancing speaking power can happen in a supportive, in-depth, laser-focused container together, and can make all the difference in the speaker’s self-assuredness, and their livelihood when they ace the interview and land that new job!
P.S. A Vibrant Voice VIP Day may be an awesome fit for you! It’s a 3 hour intensive, followed by two additional sessions within 30 days, with unlimited Voxer/DM support – why? Because habit-formation is awesome & encourages long-term success!
Curious to learn more??? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll send along more details.
Remember, You & your voice are worthy!
Voice Activator. Lover of the Larynx and Lake Life. On a mission to elevate women's self-worth & wellness via their voice. Delightful daughter, 1 MiniSchnauzer, and occasionally dabbles in professional voice-over (Me, not the dog). Always reminding you that You and Your Voice Are Worthy!