I have been a Toastmaster on and off for many years. Toastmasters (for the uninitiated) is a wonderful organization that helps people develop speaking and leadership skills in an encouraging environment. The result of that experience is that I listen more closely to speakers and that has caused me a great deal of pain in the past few years. A phenomenon has occurred in North American speech patterns that is both maddening and frustrating. Especially since I now catch myself doing it from time to time. What is that annoying pattern?
I traced the beginnings of Talking “UP” back to the movie American Pie. Alyson Hannigan as Michelle extolls the values of her experiences at Band Camp with annoying frequency and uses the repeating phrase with an UP lilt that drives her future boyfriend to distraction. Somehow, that annoying little clip of sound has invaded speech patterns all across America. I thought at first the damage was limited to millennials that voted for Obama that were overexposed to too much video as children. But it has spread. Late last year I had to grit my teeth in a high level meeting where a senior VP used the UP emphasis on every sentence he made to the group. Then the highly paid consultants in the room did the same thing hour after hour, I felt like I was in a verbal torture chamber. Later at dinner, I listened as one after another, colleagues also fell prey to the pattern. At the airport on the way home, it was everywhere. The only escape seemed to be the silence of the plane. Until of course they started running the featured film in the economy class cabin “American Pie”.
I am not the only one who has seen this destructive trend. Dana Perino on the Fox show “The Five” last week practically begged people to stop Talking UP. I jumped up from my chair and screamed in happiness. Maybe the tide has turned.
So I am asking you to help in this campaign. The next time you hear someone Talking UP, make sure you tell them. Do it gently. It’s not their fault. I have a suggestion. When they have stopped talking just look at them and say
“this one time, at BAND CAMP”
Good talking with you.