How to Banish Up-​Speak and Other Vocal Turnoffs From Your Sales Pitch


Your voice is one of key aspects of the image you portray to prospects and customers. If you’ve been working with a client over the phone and have never had a video call or a personal meeting, she will make decisions about you based on your voice. When you sound confident, a prospect might be more likely to proceed down the sales funnel. If you sound uncertain or confused, she might leave you. Heather Yamada-​Hosley lists six different methods you can use to sound more confident in all of your daily interactions. Here are a few pointers.

  • Volume: While some people naturally speak in a softer volume, others drop their volume when they are uncertain. Pay attention to your volume when you’re answering a client’s questions. Are you speaking so quietly at the end of each sentence that it’s hard to hear you? Is your voice dropping off during a presentation, because you’re not sure of the answer you’re giving? Before the client loses confidence in you, acknowledge that you don’t have a good answer and will have to research the details for her. As you’re giving that answer, keep your volume steady throughout.
  • Tone: The habit of up-​speak, or ending each sentence with a questioning tone, is a sure way to weaken a prospect’s confidence in you. As Yamada-​Hosley points out, this vocal style is associated with younger women. In the business world, young females may feel they’ve got a steep hill to climb to build credibility. Up-​speak can be a way to convince your listeners to agree with you. But, a more effective strategy would be to keep your tone friendly while you deliver information that will give your prospect a fact-​based reason to consider the product or service you’re selling.

So how can you correct your vocal weaknesses? First, take the time identify which vocal issues you have. Tape yourself when you deliver your next pitch or presentation. Listen to your volume and tone. Then decide which issue you want to address. If you’re going to tackle up-​speak, start by correcting yourself in a safe environment. In your talks with co-​workers and family members, slow down your conversations and think about what you’re going to say. At first, you’ll occasionally forget your pledge to stop raising your tone at the end of every sentence. When that happens, you might find it helpful to repeat your question, in the tone you want in order to reinforce the change.

Don’t be discouraged if this change takes longer than you expected. Your speech patterns and habits took a while to develop. You’ll need a little time to change them, too.

Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-​owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.