Using your voice

Find your voice – and make it sing

Recently I had the privilege of media training an eminent professor who had spearheaded the clinical trial of a promising and much-needed new drug.

The Prof was easily on top of his game in terms of his messaging. He had an impressive grasp of the scale and the impact of the conditions the drug was designed to treat, the significance of the trial results and the potential of this innovative treatment to make a real difference.

The trouble was that when it came to our practice interviews, he delivered those messages in a dull monotone, every sentence ending on a dying fall.…

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Is there a real role for ‘uptalk’?

One of the commonest verbal irritants I encounter in my communication skills training courses is ‘uptalk’ – a rising inflection at the end of sentences that makes statements sound like questions.

I observe this speech pattern most commonly among younger women, and I invariably urge them to try to change a habit that makes them seem – to my mind at least – uncertain, hesitant and lacking in authority.

But am I right? Could it be that uptalk is a much subtler and more strategic linguistic tool than I had recognised – useful for confirming understanding, inviting engagement and forestalling interruptions?…

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Five vocal vices to avoid in presentations

Vocal technique is one of the three ‘pillars’ of effective presentations, the other two being content and body language. In the best presentations there is a pleasing congruence between the three pillars, with voice and body language supporting and reinforcing the words being uttered. In the worst there is a jarring dissonance between content and delivery, which makes a presentation very hard to follow, understand and remember.…

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Harness the power of the pause

As a communication skills trainer, the vocal fault I observe more than any other is – failure to pause.

There are plenty of other vocal infelicities I am called on to correct, such as:

  • flat, uninflected voices that utterly fail to engage;
  • voices that rise at the end of sentences in the manner popularised by Australian soaps (usually a female fault, this one);
  • voices that tail away at the end of sentences (usually because in his/her head, the speaker has moved on to the next thought).
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