Struggling to Engage Your Audience? Be Inclusive
Steven D. Cohen is a leading expert on persuasive communication and effective presentation skills. He is an instructor at the Harvard Division of Continuing Education and holds a faculty appointment at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School.
The Weekly Brief: Quick Tips & Tools to Apply at Work
One of the easiest ways to bond with your audience is to use inclusive pronouns like we, our, and us—instead of you and your.
I often use inclusive language when telling my students about upcoming speech assignments. When students express concern about delivering a speech, I say: “I know speaking in public can be nerve-racking, but we’re all in this together. We’ve prepared for this moment for the past few weeks, so I know we have what it takes to deliver amazing speeches.”
Although I personally may not deliver a speech, I want my students to know that I am on their side. Using inclusive language helps me demonstrate that I care about my students and understand what they are facing.
There is a big difference between saying, “You must solve this problem” and “We must solve this problem.” The first statement makes the audience responsible for solving the problem. The second implies that the speaker will work with the audience to solve the problem.
Don’t tell your listeners what they should do. Instead, use inclusive language to explain what you all can accomplish together.
This tip is an excerpt from Cohen’s article Make Your Speech All about the Audience.