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Using your voice effectively

When trying to get your message across, it’s not just what you say but how you say it. The intonation and stress in your voice convey different meanings.

Intonation is the rise and fall of the voice when speaking. Raising or dropping your vocal pitch expresses different meanings, which can help you communicate your message more clearly.

Stress is the emphasis on certain syllables, words or sentences to indicate their importance in a particular section.

Imagine that your friend just told you that they bought a house. How you respond by using the word ‘really’ has different meaning depending on the intonation:

  • A rising intonation can show surprise
  • A falling intonation can show disbelief
  • Not changing your intonation at all can sound sarcastic

Your task

Have a two-minute conversation with a friend or record yourself speaking.

Try to talk with no intonation (as if you were a robot). Then, repeat the conversation using your normal speech.

Discuss with your fellow learners the differences that you hear in your delivery.

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This article is from the free online course:

What Makes an Effective Presentation?

Coventry University