Modulation in public speaking is the next progression from using the speaker skill sense stress. in addition to stressing certain words, the adjustment of pace, pitch, power, and volume are all incorporated into a skill of modulating your speech.

This speaker skill not only will make what is said more appealing to the ear. It allows speakers to convey the emotions they feel about a subject. People act and react more on emotion than on logic. It is the way our brains are hard-wired.

Master this skill to help the audience to get into the spirit of the information that is being delivered.

Modulation Examples

    If you ever saw the Geico Gecko commercial (North America Car Insurance Advertisement) you are seeing an example of sense stress and modulating the voice.

    The gecko uses sense stress to say what he loves or what the company will do for you. Then after he says they will give you a toasted biscuit with butter and jam he then switches his whole inflection as he says that it is a dramatization of course. The switch is in such a way that he is projecting warmth and sincerity about the company.

    Did he use sense stress. Absolutely. Even with out the disclaimer, you could tell he was not telling the truth. He went farther. He modulated his voice to inflect the corporate image.

    Contrast this with the car commercials of over a decade or two ago with a guy named Joe. He would say that the car was faster than a speeding bullet. He fired a gun, hopped into the car, drove and then would catch the bullet in his teeth.

    The sub title said that he was not telling the truth.

What is M...?

The New Oxford American Dictionary has the following definitions...

    modulate | verb [ trans. ] exert a modifying or controlling influence on : the state attempts to modulate private business's cash flow.
    • vary the strength, tone, or pitch of (one's voice) : we all modulate our voice by hearing it.
    • alter the amplitude or frequency of (an electromagnetic wave or other oscillation) in accordance with the variations of a second signal, typically one of a lower frequency : radio waves are modulated to carry the analog information of the voice.
    • [intrans.] (modulate into) change from one form or condition into (another): ideals and opinions are not modulated into authoritative journalese.

    DERIVATIVES ORIGIN mid 16th cent from Latin modulat- measured, made melody, from the verb modulari, from modulus measure.

    A More Scientific Look At Modulating the Human Voice

Modulating to Match Emotions

    Robert Plutchik classified eight primary emotions. A ninth one, happiness (from the Paul Ekman research) is included as it is not always a synonym of joy.


    It is believed these blend together to form the full spectrum of human emotional experience much the way primary colors work together to make the other colors.

    Properly projecting emotions in a talk requires modulating the appropriate parts of the talk.

    Putting it into perspective. If you have a dog that welcomes your attention, what will happen if you go up and, with the kindest, softest voice start telling saying it is the dumbest most worthless animal that ever walked on the planet. It will come with tail wagging.

    What happens if you raise your voice and speak in a harsh tone?

    Modulating the human voice requires using the right pace, pitch, power, and volume for the most wanted outcome.

    Generally speaking, most people know the appropriate tone, pace, volume and power to speak in for any given emotion. Here are a few suggestions but remember, these are not rules. Keep it real, keep it natural, and keep it.

    Anger, fear (resulting in fight response), urgency or conviction usually require an increase in power and increase in volume. Some successfully increase the power and lower the volume and effectively move audiences. Although there are no hard and fast rules, the important thing is consistency.

    Curiosity/interest slowing down (Pace) can build suspense or anticipation.

    Disgust might call for increased power and lower tone to make a strong statement or decreased power and higher tone to make it less accusatory.

    Sadness may call for a lower tone of voice to share warmth and feeling.

    Surprise could call for a higher tonal quality equal to the excitement and enthusiasm felt.

Go to Dynamic Range Page

Go to Public Speaker Skill List The Modulation Website

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