Do you speak publicly? Most people do sometimes, regardless of position or profession. You might address a large group or a small work team. Speaking might be a regular part of your job or an occasional event. In any case, there will be diversity in your audience. Speak to it!
The more inclusive your remarks, the more effective you will be. Culturally appropriate comments convey your respect for different groups and can set an example of behavior you want to see. Plus, people pay attention when they hear something that says you’re talking to them, that you “get” them.
It’s natural to think about the audience and to personalize comments as you prepare. Extend what you do naturally with these ideas:
• Add culturally diverse content. Use stories that highlight different people and cultures. Quote diverse leaders.
• Watch your assumptions. One CEO told me it was OK for him to joke about the Irish because he was Irish. Not so. Generalizations about ANY group tacitly endorse making assumptions about other groups and can set the stage for stereotyping.
• Use inclusive language. Stay current on preferred terms for different groups. Watch slang or figures of speech that might not be clear to those from other regions and watch pronouns. Gender-neutral language might matter to your next board member, boss or buyer.
• Accommodate diverse adult learning styles. Use different approaches (e.g., statistics and stories) and appeal to different senses (e.g., audio and visual). Use vocabulary that is readily understood by those of different educational levels or cultures and don’t be afraid to repeat your point in different ways. People learn through repetition.
• Acknowledge people equitably. From the moment you walk in the room until the moment you leave the premises, greet and interact with people evenhandedly no matter what their position, role or personal characteristics. You will be remembered at least as much for what you do as for what you say.Adapted and republished from Be The Change.
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