In working with a group of young professionals some years ago, I was stunned to hear all the participants ending their sentences on the upswing as if they were asking a question.
I had often heard this type of speech inflection at the business lunch during the personal introductions, but this was the first time I had heard it while someone was giving an actual presentation. And it wasn’t just one individual. All seven in the group did the same thing.
Well educated, these young people were under the age of 30 except one woman who was 32 but they all sounded the same when they spoke – like that of a Valley Girl or a 1990’s California surfer. If you speak in this manner, how professional do you think you sound?
We are all concerned with the image we project, but often we are unaware that our voice and spoken delivery is part of that image.
While certainly a current fad among the younger generations, unfortunately, it may hold you back from that promotion or even from a prospective job. If another candidate sounds professional when he or she speaks and you do not, who do you think will get the job or the promotion?
In working with my clients in voice and presentation skills, my goal is to show them their richer, deeper, more mature-sounding voice. Today, however, I also need to work with many of them on their inflection. Most are unaware of this habit until they see and hear themselves on video.
If you are unsure if you speak in this manner, record yourself with your mobile phone during a conversation and then study the playback. If you are guilty of Valley Girl-ese, record yourself with this simple exercise. Say:
- I am going to the store, taking your voice down on the word store.
- Now say the same thing again as if you were asking a question, lifting your voice up on the word store.
Did you hear a difference? Train your ‘inner ear’ (the way you hear yourself) to begin to recognize the difference when you speak.
While you may have the degrees behind your name, sounding like a ‘surfing dude’ or a ‘Valley Girl’ negates that education. If you plan to ‘make a statement’ in the business world, break this habit and instill the correct one; otherwise, those who are in a position to hire or promote may find it difficult to take you seriously. Valley Girl-ese doesn’t sell – professionalism does!
Want to get rid of the Valley Girl sound? Join me in Jersey for my next Voice & Presentation Skills Workshop.