Talk about speaking on the upswing! When I first heard Jen Psaki speaking as press secretary, I couldn’t believe my ears. Not an occasional sentence or phrase, but every single statement sounds like a question.
I know; I know; it is the younger generations who are guilty of this. (Although I have heard many Babyboomers who have picked up this annoying habit.) But when you are the press secretary for the President of the United States, shouldn’t you be aware of this? Shouldn’t somebody be aware of this?
Obviously, Ms. Psaki is an intelligent woman or she wouldn’t have been given such an important position. When I listen to her, however, I am not paying attention to what she is saying. Instead, I am focusing on the end of her sentences. Just like verbal tics (um, ah, and ‘you know’), moving your inflection up at the end of each sentence is distracting.
In today’s business world, many women are struggling to be taken seriously. Unfortunately, poor vocal habits can make that struggle that much more difficult. If you are ending your sentences on the upswing in which your voice rises at the end of your statement, then you are asking a question and not making a statement. This sounds neither confident nor mature.
Read the following statements as questions.
- Today, we were discussing the use of masks in outdoor restaurants during winter? Many people felt it was not necessary? However, many of those restaurants are totally enclosed with plastic? We don’t know what the answer is?
If that felt ‘normal’ to you, then you should consider the practice of taking your voice down at the end of your sentences. (Interestingly, Microsoft Word double-underlined the last word in each of those statements because the grammar editor was not pleased with the question marks!) The best way to change your inflection is to record yourself speaking in normal conversation. Study the playback so that you can retrain your ear to recognize the problem. Then start making statements and not asking questions.
The goal for both men and women is to sound mature and confident. A voice which ends on the upswing does not lend credibility to you as a figure of authority or one in a leadership position. Instead it sounds young and, dare I say, typical of the young women on the old TV show 90210 or reminiscent of a California surfer from the ‘90’s!
If you would like more information on voice and presentation skills, visit my voice training page.