Verbal Elements of Delivery

Pitch – measure of how high or low your voice sounds
• Monotone (no inflection) sounds boring and unemotional
• Inflection helps you maintain audience interest and get your message across
• Avoid dramatic, upward shifts in pitch or ones on the final word of a sentence
unless asking a question
Rate – speed at which you speak
• Speedier talkers prevent listeners from absorbing the ideas and making
connections between points
• Speak in shorter sentences
• To vary your rate, you can change the length of natural pauses and change the
rate at which you speak syllables and words within phrases
• Used to add emphasis and meaning to selected phrases and sentences
• Can be inserted to allow audience members a moment to think about an idea, to
indicate a shift to a new idea, to a new section of your speech, or to heighten
audience anticipation of your next idea
• Avoid the temptation to fill any silences with verbal pauses; they annoy listeners
and hurt your credibility
• Start each thought on a new line to remind yourself to pause at the end of a line
• Overcome background noise and reach every listener in the room
• Open your mouth as you speak and use all of your breath to send your words out
to the audience.
Variety – changes related to pauses, rate, pitch, and volume
• When your voice isn’t predictable, your audience won’t know what’s coming next,
and they’ll stay alert to find out
• Variety adds a personality and an immediacy to your words that can bring you
closer to your audience by making your speech sound more like a spirited
Pronunciation ability to say each word correctly by making the proper sounds and
accenting the correct syllable
• Correct pronunciation is invisible, but incorrect pronunciation can damage your
Morreale, S.P., & Bovee, C.L. (1998) Excellence in Public Speaking
UNCG University Speaking Center, 256-1346, speakingcenter.uncg.edu
Articulation – ability to correctly form the sounds of each word (making vowel sounds
and consonant sounds clearly and distinctly as you speak)
• If you substitute one consonant for another, slush your s’s, or drop some vowels
or consonants, your audience may not be able to understand you
Dialect – the pattern of vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation that’s used in a
particular region or culture
• Listeners form impressions based on their stereotyped notions about people who
speak with certain dialects (less capable, less intelligent)
• If your audience can’t understand your words because of your dialect, you may
want to soften it so that you can get your message across

Morreale, S.P., & Bovee, C.L. (1998) Excellence in Public Speaking
UNCG University Speaking Center, 256-1346, speakingcenter.uncg.edu