Gender Equality: Both Men and Women Bring Interfering Behaviors to Their Speech and Voice

Gender Equality: Both Men and Women Bring Interfering Behaviors to Their Speech and Voice


Gender Equality: Both Men and Women (Unintentionally) Bring Interfering Behaviors to Their Speech and Voice

By Elizabeth Peterson, M.A.,CCC-SLP

Excerpt from: How to Speak like a Broadcaster and Lead like a CEO

Before getting into the details and instruction of intonation and speech melody, I thought it would be easier to understand and identify the different speech behaviors between women and men. When it comes to communication skills, each gender (unintentionally) has unhelpful and interfering behaviors. Not to worry, once you recognize behaviors in others it will help you to identify and then change your behaviors to a more effective communication style.

As a speech-language pathologist for over 25 years and working with professional women and men at equal levels, these are some of the typical behaviors I have seen from men and women who have come to me for better public speaking and voice skills. I am identifying typical behaviors men and women do. This does not mean that the other gender does not exhibit these interfering behaviors.


  • Monotone- Speaking in one pitch or on one level
  • Mumbling- Mostly monotone with minimal movement from their jaw or lips resulting in hard to hear and understand speech
  • Lowering Voice Toward the End of Their Statement- Some people fell that since they are toward the end of their statement, they should lower their voice as well. This habit can be hard to hear, lack power in their voice and non-verbally sends the signal that they are bored.


  • Up-speak- Ending statements in a higher voice instead of a lower one. I call this habit, “The Kiss of Death for Professional Women”. It sounds young, immature and sends non-verbal signals of a total lack of confidence.
  • A Thin and High Voice- There is a place in the lower voice where the vocal folds function at their best to produce a voice that is rich, strong and more powerful. Many women speak outside of that area creating a voice that is thin and weak.
  • Nasality- When speech and voice are placed close or in the nasal cavity creating a sound quality that can sound nasal, like whining and is unpleasant to hear.

Both Women and Men

  • Vocal Fry- Many people will often speak with some vocal fry toward the end of their statements. Instead of speaking in a pure vocal tone, the voice sounds a little fried, rough, squeaky during the last couple of words in the statement.

Have you identified any of these speech behaviors in yourself? Which ones?

How we use speech and voice sends signals about our credibility, interest, energy, confidence and leadership ability. You may have identified some of these behaviors in your speech and voice skills. Not to worry, women and men can have effective communication skills that radiate confidence and leadership. It is a matter of learning how to speak with good intonation, ideal and optimal vocal pitch and speaking from a diaphragm breath. All of these skills are taught here.

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