While it does seem to be spreading like a virus, Uptalk does not spell the end of civilization.
No, the rapid spread of this debilitating voice pathology is not as alarming as, say, the spread of the Rage virus in the film 28 Days Later . . .
But . . .
Uptalk does show an incredible degradation of the language and of clear ideas, confidently expressed . . . especially in business presentations.
And as with most obstacles, there is an opportunity buried inside this one.
This infestation of uptalk offers you an valuable opportunity. For this opportunity to work for you to its maximum, you must keep it to yourself so that the gulf and the contrast between you and them is as great as can be.
If you can overcome your own tendency toward uptalk, which is a hoi-polloi kind of thing, you will have lifted yourself above the horde of uptalking babblers that seems to increase daily.
You can do this by training yourself to speak with a forthright confidence.
The Uptalk Pathology
Uptalk is the maddening rise of inflection at the end of declarative sentences that transforms simple statements into an endless stream of questioning uncertainty.
As if the speaker is contantly asking for validation. Looking for others to nod in agreement.
Yes, maddening . . . and it infests everyone exposed to this voice with doubt, unease, and irritation. It screams amateur when used in formal 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. I’m not invested in this exercise at all.”
Poet and social commentator Taylor Mali has this to say about this voice pathology . . .
Uptalk radiates weakness and uncertainty and doubt. It conveys the mood of unfinished business, as if something more is yet to come. A steady drumbeat of questioning non-questions.
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.
Uptalk = “I don’t know what I’m talking about”
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, listen for uptalk in any popular youth-oriented television show.
Reality television females, as a breed, seem unable to express themselves in any other way. Their lives appear as one big query.
But you can fix this.
In fact, you can gain an especially powerful competitive advantage simply by eliminating this pathology. If you speak with straightforward declarative sentences, with confidence and conviction, your personal presence gains power, and this power increases the more it is contrasted with the hosts of questioning babblers around you who seem unsure of anything.
For many young speakers, Uptalk is the only roadblock standing between them and a major step up in presentation power.
And recognizing that you have this awful habit is halfway to correcting it.
Evaluate your own speech to identify the up-tic.
Then come to grips with it, and, you know . . .
Eliminate it. Totally.
For a wealth of energizing instruction on exactly how to craft especially powerful presentations without uptalk, have a look at The Complete Guide to Business School Presenting.