The verbal up-tic is the most ubiquitous speech pathology afflicting folks under thirty. Its most common manifestation is Uptalk.
Once it grips you, Uptalk won’t let go . . .
It’s maddening. And it infests everyone exposed to this voice with doubt, unease, and irritation. It screams amateur when used in formal business presentations.
It cries out: “I don’t know what I’m talking about here. I just memorized a series of sentences and I’m spitting them out now in this stupid presentation.”
Uptalk Destroys Your Credibility
If you have this affectation – if you’re reading this, you probably do – promise yourself solemnly to rid yourself of this debilitating habit. But recognize that it’s not that easy. Students confide in me that they can hear themselves uptalking during presentations, sentence after questioning sentence.
But for some reason, they simply cannot stop.
So exactly what is this crippling uptalk?
Uptalk is also called the “rising line” or the “high rising terminal.”
This is the unfortunate habit of inflecting the voice upward at the end of every sentence, as if a question is being asked. Uptalk radiates weakness and uncertainty and doubt . . . and it conveys the mood of unfinished business, as if something more is yet to come.
Sentence after sentence in succession is spoken as if a series of questions.
Uptalk = “I have no idea what I’m talking about”
You create a tense atmosphere with Uptalking that is almost demonic in its effect. This tic infests your audience with an unidentifiable uneasiness. At its worst, your audience wants to cover ears and cry “make it stop!” . . . but they aren’t quite sure at what they should vent their fury.
In certain places abroad, this tic is known as the Australian Questioning Intonation, popular among young Australians. The Brits are less generous in their assessment of this barbarism, calling it the “moronic interrogative,” a term coined by comedian Rory McGrath.
In United States popular culture, Meghan McCain, the daughter of Senator John McCain, has made a brisk living off her incessant verbal up-ticking. Someone calling herself Kim Kardashian is the main carrier of this virus. Listen for it in any interview you stumble upon or popular youth-oriented television show.
But you can fix it. And recognizing that you have this awful habit is halfway to correcting it.
For many young speakers, uptalk is the only roadblock standing between them and a major step up in presentation power. Evaluate your own speech to identify uptalk. Then come to grips with it.
For more on correcting the uptalk pathology and building a credible business presentation, consult The Complete Guide to Business School Presenting.