What are SSML tags?
SSML stands for 'Speech Synthesis Markup Language', and allows you to change the way voices are generated by computers. SSML uses a system of 'tags' denoted by arrow icons to enclose a section of text, and tell the computer how to generate the speech. For example, a basic SSML tag would look like this:

"Hey, I <loud>REALLY WANT</loud> want to go outside...<quiet>please?</quiet>"

In the above example, REALLY WANT is made loud by being surrounded by those tags, and please? is made quiet. Do not these are example tags - and not real SSML tags! Hopefully you get the gist :)

Using SSML tags
You can use SSML tags inside of SPEAK blocks in Voiceflow. Below I have outlined several popular examples of SSML tags you can use, but the full list is here on Alexa's developer blog.

Break/Pause Tag
To make Alexa pause while she talks, you can add an SSML tag into the middle of your text. The SSML format for breaks is just one tag, and follows this format:

<break time='10s'/>

The amount of time can either be in seconds (s), or miliseconds (ms). Remember to add the forward slash after the pause length, otherwise your tag won't work!


Change Alexa and Google Actions Speech
You can make Alexa or Google speak differently by wrapping certain words in special SSML tags. There are many types of enclosing SSML tags, with the main categories being

  • Emphasis: change emphasis of words
  • Speed: change the speed of the speaks
  • Pitch: change voice pitch
  • Volume: change the volume of the speech

The general format is: <prosody pitch='loud'> text you want to make loud </prosody>

SSML tags enclose a section of text in the Speak block with the starting & closing SSML tags for that particular tag. In the example above, you would find the category of effect you want, such as prosody, followed by the type of effect and the level of effect, all in the opening tag. After enclosing the text you want to affect, you add the closing tag with a forward slash and the category of the effect.

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