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Why your Choice of Pronouns is Killing Your Presentation

Presentation Success
Poor Pronoun Choice Can Kill Your Presentation

Many people that give presentations are unaware of how their use of personal pronouns impacts on the audience. For those of you that skipped that section of English class, a personal pronoun is way of referring to a person, such as I, You, We, He, Us, She.

People have a tendency to think that using 'we' is a very professional way of including the audience. But actually, they are wrong. Using 'we' like this is distanced, objective, unemotional and cold. Also, you haven't earned the right to say 'we' to an audience, until you've set up that You and I are Us. In other words, you have to create the feeling that WE are a group, that We have a common purpose, and that WE are in this together. Of course, you want that feeling, but you have to earn it by making them feel this way before you use that word. If you use this without earning it, you risk creating distance from the audience. And that will kill your presentation.

NB: If you already work in an organisation, you might assume that you can use WE, but I would suggest not. I would suggest Management are not shop floor. Coaches are not accountants. Cleaners are not account executives. You still not to earn the WE if you want to use it.

The colder, more objective, less engaging and down right formal 'ONE' is even worse. When you say ONE, you sound like a member of the British Royal Family. You sound formal and disconnected and you certainly don't sound like one of Us.

However, when you relate things about yourself and say I, it sounds personal, meaningful to you, honest, sincere and authentic. And when you talk about your audience and refer to them as YOU, it makes the listener feel important, connected to BIG IDEA of the speech/presentation and like you are speaking directly to them.

The Very Best

Mark Westbrook

Public Speaking Coach

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