Intonation- Accent Keys Words in Your Talk

Intonation refers to the rise and fall of the voice while speaking.  It is an important communication tool because it allows the speaker to alter the meaning of what they are saying.  They can strengthen a specific key word, add emotion to a sentence, or adjust their attitude simply by varying their pitch.  A speaker can also use intonation to inform the audience that what they are saying is important and deserves their attention.  The voice is an important tool for engaging audiences during a presentation and intonation is one way in which presenters can show more enthusiasm in their speech.


When you are giving a presentation there are sure to be certain points that are most important and deserving of audience attention.  When you want to get your point across, you can use intonation to place emphasis on particular key words.   When you increase your tone on certain words, it tells the audience that those words deserve extra attention.   Furthermore, emphasizing certain words can alter the meaning of the sentence.  For example, saying “ I did not take the client’s money” and “I did not take the client’s money” can have two completely different meanings simply because of the inflection of your voice on certain words.  Therefore, intonation can be used to emphasize accent words in a way that helps you get your point across.

Express Emotion

Speakers have the ability to evoke emotions from their audience simply varying the pitch of their voice.  Intonation can be used to cause audiences to feel surprised, sad, angry, happy, or humored.  Speakers can also use intonation to express a genuine question or to express disagreement.  Rising and dropping the pitch of words is a great way for speakers to engage with audiences by tapping into their emotions.

Make it Interesting

A speech that is monotone and has little variation in tone, melody, or pitch will bore an audience in a matter of minutes.  That’s why it’s important for speakers to practice for a presentation by including intonation in their voices.  When key words are emphasized in a natural way, it helps the speaker to highlight important points while also making the speech more interesting. 

When you’re preparing for your presentation it is always important to decide which words, phrases, and paragraphs will have the most impact on your audience and place gentle emphasis on these words.  The cadence and intonation of your voice will ensure that people are listening to you and are paying special attention to those most important key words.