Tone of Voice Activities for Adults

Instructor: Heather Jenkins

Heather has a bachelor's degree in elementary education and a master's degree in special education. She was a public school teacher and administrator for 11 years.

If your adult students are learning about communication, examining tone of voice is an essential concept to explore. Use these activities to help students identify tone of voice and use appropriate tone of voice in various situations.

It's Not What You Say, But How You Say It

Have you ever had someone tell you they're not angry, but you can tell that they really are? Perhaps their voice sounded strained or choppy. A person's tone of voice can often relay the true feelings behind what he/she is saying. When adults understand how to recognize a person's tone of voice and how to utilize an appropriate tone of voice in various situations, it can improve their communication with others. Let's look at some activities to help adults recognize tone of voice and use proper tone of voice in real-life situations.

Make a Face

Use audio recordings to help students identify the tone of voice of the speakers.


  • Audio recordings of people speaking in different tones of voice

Teacher Directions

  1. Discuss tone of voice and how it can often communicate the speaker's feelings, or a perception of their feelings, to the listener.
  2. Play audio recordings of people speaking in different tones of voice. If you don't have access to recordings, say various sentences in different tones of voice, such as angry, sarcastic, etc.
  3. Have the class concentrate on listening to the way the sentence is said. Encourage them to close their eyes and imagine how the person would look when speaking.
  4. After each clip, have students use their facial expressions and body language to communicate the feelings conveyed through the speaker's tone of voice. For example, if the tone was concerned, then the students might have worried looks on their faces with their arms slightly open or outstretched, as if they are ready to help.

Discussion Questions

  • What could happen if a person's tone of voice doesn't match their feelings or the feelings they want to communicate to others?
  • How is tone of voice like body language and facial expressions in how it communicates without words?

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