Do you know what the most important word in speaking is?

This magic three-letter word is the key to connecting with your audience and the most important word you can use in presentations.

In English it is grammatically correct and culturally appropriate to use the word you when addressing the audience as a whole or just one person.

Your audience is self-centered. They don’t care about you the presenter, they want to know what they will get out of the presentation for themselves. Besides, nobody likes a person who always says “I, I, I”, so try putting the word you in your presentation as much as possible.

Darren Lacroix, 2001 World Champion of Public Speaking, suggests that an easy way to do this is begin a presentation with a you-focused question.

It often happens that a speaker asks the audience, “How many people here have ever….?” While this is decent way of engaging the audience, it would be better to say “Have you ever…?”

This way each member of the audience feels like you are speaking directly to them, even while you are looking at the entire audience.

1999 World Champion of Public Speaking Craig Valentine also believes in the power of the word you. He suggests rephrasing sentences that you might normally start with I and change them to begin with you.

“I have three strategies to share with you.” ——-> “You will discover three strategies.”

“I will give you some tips about writing.” ——–> “You are going to learn some tips for writing.”

How often are you using the most important word in public speaking?

YOU: the pronoun of the second person singular or plural, used of the person or persons being addressed. – Random House Dictionary

This is part of the Word Wednesday series, posts dedicated to improving your speaking vocabulary. Each Wednesday we will look at one word or expression by defining it and explaining how it applies to your presentations.

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