The “Upspeak” speech pattern

Over the past few years, a new speech pattern has been spinning out of control across the globe. It’s called “high-rising terminal”. It’s also called “upspeak”, “uptalk” or “rising inflection”. I’m sure you’ve heard someone use it today. They use rising pitch intonation to make a statement end with the intonation that we use to ask a question. That means when someone makes a statement it sounds like a question.

For me, this gets a little annoying. It changes my listening habits because I think I’m hearing a question when in reality it’s just a statement. When I hear a someone using “upspeak” it sounds like they aren’t sure that what they’re saying is true.

I’ve heard news personalities use it. And I really think that reporters and news anchors should be better than that! How can I trust a news anchor that sounds like she’s doubting everything she says? Interviewing guests using “upspeak”- yikes! Heads up people, “upspeak” isn’t cute!

Is using “upspeak” such a bad thing? I think so. And so should you, but only if you want to sound credible, be taken seriously and communicate well. If you’re interviewing or discussing a freelance job, don’t use “upspeak”.

What difference does it make if I sound that way? It makes a lot of difference. “Upspeak” tends to make a person sound like he is questioning whatever it is that he is saying. It makes a person sound hesitant like he really isn’t sure and he doubts what he is saying.

A person using “upspeak” could be trying to get affirmation about what he’s saying. By making a statement sound like a question, he may  get a positive reaction from a listener, but a reaction isn’t the same as understanding what is being said.

What if I started to write like upspeak sounds? Okay, here goes. Stay with me through this one.

Speech patterns are easily picked up by those listening to us? If we speak poorly?, those listening will not understand us.  The more we use upspeak? the more we sound like we doubt what we’re saying? Self-confidence and maturity can be conveyed by how we speak. But it won’t come across if we constantly use upspeak?

If you didn’t know I was using  “upspeak” to write the paragraph, would you have wondered about my writing or communication skills? See what I did here? I used “high-rising terminal” or “upspeak” in the correct manner. I know this, because when you read it, the voice in your head used intonation it to make it sound like a question. Am I right?

If we become aware that we are using “upspeak” speech patterns than we should make a conscious effort to change it. And change it quickly! If we communicate poorly our chances of getting through an interview successfully is greatly reduced. Our chances of being accepted as an expert in our field, also reduced. Why? Because we sound like we don’t know what we’re talking about. We may have the skills and knowledge to be an expert, but if we don’t sound like one, on one else will know.

Yesterday I started to listen to an online course. The presenter was young and very knowledgeable. She started the course with a few basics. It was soon clear that she sucked at public speaking. Therefore, I quit the course. If I can’t learn from an expert  to me that expert isn’t an expert anymore.

The lesson is: If you want to sound like you know what you’re talking about, don’t use “upspeak”.

Most of our friends are probably already using this annoying speech pattern. This means it will most likely rub off on us – if it hasn’t already.  But, if we want to be viewed as confident and self-assured (or as an expert) we need to constantly be aware of our speech patterns.

Practice speaking with confidence. Ask someone to tell you every time you use “upspeak” or better yet pay them $5 every time you use it. It’s a habit worth breaking! Sure you won’t “sound” like all your friends when you speak. Maybe they’ll think you’re smarter than they are because you sound more confident. But if you are insecure and question everything you do, by all means, continue “upspeaking”.

Falling into a socially “accepted” speech pattern just means you’re fitting in. Stand out from the crowd and start sounding confident in yourself!

Creatively Speaking,

Cynthia