Poor vocal habits on the rise

Speech habits that distract or drive you crazy?

I was listening to CBC radio host Anna Maria Tremonti on The Current, interviewing a man who was representing a company involved in the medical use of marijuana. It was a fascinating subject but I found it difficult to listen to his ideas, simply because I was so distracted by his vocal tic.

Speech, vocal and voice tips and advice

Statements into ?

Every other statement he made, ended with a rise in his voice. This rising inflection or rising cadence as it’s sometimes called, made his statements seem like questions. It made him sound tentative and very unsure. It undermined the validity of what he had to say.

Men and women

I used to think the rising inflection speech pattern was more common in women but I’ve been hearing it more and more from young men.

Adding power to your voice

The interviewer, Anna Maria Tremonti, always sounds credible (though not always warm). Even when she asks a question she doesn’t raise her inflection at the end of the question. She simply presents questions in an even cadence. She will even put a downward inflection on sentence endings, which can add power to a simple statement.

Hear ourselves

We can’t see ourselves objectively and we sometimes do not hear ourselves objectively.

Tips to find out if you have vocal tics and some advice about what you can do to change them:

Tip 1 – Occasionally record your own voice in conversation. It’s very easy now with smart phones which have recording capabilities. Then listen to yourself as objectively as you can, listening for verbal tics and filler words.

Tip 2 – Be aware of the habit and set your intention to change. Write it down and remind yourself each day to work on it.

Tip 3 – Don’t be too hard on yourself. Habits take a while to change especially bad habits. It usually takes about 30 days of conscious effort to change and vocal habits are even harder.

Tip 3 – You may have to enlist the help of your friends. Ask them to point out or use a subtle signal you when you fall back on your tic.

Tip 4 – A voice coach may be required, if you feel your “tic” is undermining your success or credibility.

Moi? We’re not perfect

Joanne noticed a filler word that I apparently used. She said I often used the word “so” to start my sentences. So I denied it, of course. But I gave her permission to remind me every time I used “so“ as a filler word.

It was a little annoying but it revealed to me how often I used “so”. It also helped me rid my speech of a vocal habit that was undermining my credibility and communication. So I don’t do it anymore.:)

In our Complete Professional public seminars we explore image and vocal image. What vocal tics have you used or found distracting in others?

Posted by Terry Pithers – Canadian corporate image consultant and not a so-so speaker

About the author 

Terry Pithers

Canadian speaker, humorist and business etiquette expert. If you are interested in booking me for a presentation, keynote or workshop, contact me. Based in Calgary / Edmonton, Alberta in western Canada.

  1. Thank you, Terry. That’s interesting. I read that raising the voice just slightly at the of a sentence helped the listener catch the words. Sometimes if the voice lowers, we can miss the odd word or two. I like the suggestion of recording our voice…so easy now with smartphones.

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