Have you ever that, sometimes, when people speak, they don’t really get listened to? Nobody really pays attention when they’re speaking, and there seems to be something about their voice that makes them sound a little insecure, or even unskilled in what they’re saying.

There’s one thing that’s in the media that people are talking about, at the moment, that tends to be prevalent in Australia, and also other Western cultures, that is really keeping you from being heard, and being listened to. And, it’s called up-speak.

Now, in some circles, it’s also called an upward inflection. And, in Australia, it’s very common in everyday speech to have an upward inflection. But, the problem is that, in the boardroom, and in business circles, it’s not going to get you heard, and it’s certainly not going to make an impact in the way that you’re speaking with people.

If you want to make an impact, don’t use up-speak.

What is up-speak? It’s, literally, just an upward inflection at the end of a sentence. And, unfortunately, when you use it all the time, it really makes us sound like we’re insecure, we don’t know what we’re talking about, and we’re asking the audience, or you, for your approval before we even say anything. It sounds like this, “Hi guys, thank you for coming. And, it’s really nice to see you here. And, today we’re going to cover some things in this meeting that’s about accounting. And, then we’re going to have lunch. And, if you want to know where the bathroom is, we’re gonna have a bathroom break over there, and it starts at 10:00 o’clock.”

Can you see that a presentation in that way, or someone in the position of leadership, is not going to sound like a leader if they’re using an upward inflection all the time? People find it annoying, but most importantly, people sometimes don’t even know what the person is doing that is making them uninterested.
They’re not going to pay attention to you if you’re using an upward inflection all the time.

Now, there are, of course, exceptions to the rule.

In Britain, when they’re asking a question, they don’t use an upward inflection at all. And, when we in Australia are asking a question, we do use an upward inflection. The Britain way of asking a question goes like this, “Did you go to the beach today? Did you need a bathroom break?” But, in Australia, we would ask the question like this, “Did you go to the beach today? Do you need a bathroom break?”

When you’re asking a question, an upward inflection is absolutely necessary, and absolutely normal. But, when you’re using the upward inflection in everyday speech, and especially when you’re standing in front of a crowd, and you’re making a presentation, be very careful where you use the upward inflection, because you may not be reaching your audience. You’re asking them a question. Are you asking for permission to say what you’re going to say? You don’t need their permission, unless you’re expressly asking for their permission. Be very careful where you use the upward inflection, especially if you’re Australian, because we tend to have this as a really bad habit.

If you’re in the habit of doing an upward inflection, I want you to record yourself and find out how many times, in each sentence, do you actually use the upward inflection, and are you using it in the right way. Are you using an upward inflection for your questions only, or are you using an upward inflection all over your speech, which makes you sound dis-empowered, and unskilled and under-confident, and insecure? We don’t need to ask permission to speak.

Remember that. I’ll see you next time. Bye.