The Difference Between Intonation Variation and Uptalk

Vocal cues are a core element of nonverbal communication. The way we communicate specific words adds important nuance to the message we send. 

Included within vocal cues, are qualities like: 
🔊 Volume
📈 Intonation variation
⬆️ Uptalk (also known as uptick or upspeak)
🛑 Pausing
🐌 Pacing (Speech Speed)

Although there are others, these are certainly some of the most powerful ways to add nuance and conviction to what you are saying. In most cases, you can completely change the underlying meaning of what you are saying, not by changing the words, but by changing the way you say those words. 

While most of the above are intuitive to understand, intonation variation and uptalk deserve a little more attention. 

Varying your speech is a total vocal power move. You can keep your audience more engaged, add clarity around your intention and feelings behind a message and ensure your message is landing with maximum impact. 


Oftentimes, people will incorporate an increase in intonation at the end of statements or sentences, with the tone going ‘up’ at the end, mimicking the format of a question. 

Indicating when something is a question is, of course, a critical component of our expression. However, if we are expressing a statement, or opinion, and do not want to introduce doubt or display lower authority, we want to ensure that our attempts at vocal variation don’t turn into uptalk. 

Check out this video for some examples of how you can use intonation variation effectively, without introducing uptalk and doubt, into your speech. 

You can see how you perform in the category of vocal intonation by running through a free assessment here