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Michelle Hakala-Wolf Headshot

The Gifted Speaker -- It's Not a Question

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The Danger in the Up Inflection

I sat down eager to hear the speaker. I was fascinated by the topic. I'd been looking forward to the speech for days.

"Hi my name is Michelle? I'd like to tell you about my product? It's really great?"
My attention dropped and my mind started to drift. What happened? The up inflection happened. It started with the very first sentence... Hi my name is?

What does up-inflecting mean? It means you are ending your statements with a question mark.

Why is that a problem? It's a problem because now you sound unsure. Furthermore, you are unsure even about your name.

Even if you are confident and sure of what you are talking about, the up inflection puts doubt into your listeners mind. Maybe not in a way that they think, "wow she does not know what she is talking about." But in subtle ways your audience is on a fast train to "not listening to you."

So how do we fix it?

Problem:
I'm turning all my sentences into questions.

Solutions:
Tape yourself while you do your speech. Tape your practice sessions and tape your sessions with an audience. Identify where you tend to do it.

Have someone else listen to you and mark down every time your statement becomes a question. For this issue a coach is a good idea. Sometimes the up-inflection is so ingrained that only practice and diligence is going to get rid of it.

Mark your speech. Know where you should up inflect and where you should stop the sentence. Here's a tip that actors use: If there is a stop punctuation like a period or exclamation point you down inflect or just flat line it. If there is a question mark and sometimes if there is a comma you can up inflect. Just don't fill your speech with commas.

Turning your statements back into statements and not questions will allow your audience to trust you, which will keep them engaged in what you are saying. At the very least, please don't question your name.

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