Presentation Tip: Which “you” do you use?

Presentation Tip: Choose the correct “you” for your audience.

Good presenters – indeed, anyone involved in marketing communications – know that to really connect with an audience it’s important to write in the “you” format. This involves using the pronoun ‘you’ frequently throughout the presentation. Doing so shows that you are genuinely concerned about the audience’s needs.

‘You’ can be used in two ways: as a plural form (“you folks”, “you guys/gals”, “you all”) or in the singular. For the purposes of the column, I want to concentrate on electronic presentations. Those include online presentations (webinars, teleconferences and video conferences) and recorded material (training videos and tutorials).

Webinars, teleconferences, and video conferences by their nature involve groups of people. It’s natural to speak in the plural form. You are, after all, speaking to a number of people simultaneously.

Training videos and tutorials, on the other hand, are viewed individually. Dozens or perhaps hundreds of people may be viewing a module at any given time, but each viewing is done separately. Therefore, when you record a training module or tutorial, speak in the singular ‘you’:

“In this module, you will learn to…”

“Next, you will see that the program…”

On occasion you will hear the plural form, usually “you guys”, used in a training module. (And related terms, like “some of you”.) The presenter is accustomed to hosting webinars, and remains in that mindset throughout the recording. It’s not a deadly mistake, but it takes a bit of the shine off the presentation.

As you record your training material, imagine one person is sitting across the desk from you. Speak into the microphone as you would speak to that person. That is how you want to sound on the recording.

Incidentally, it’s perfectly OK to use the singular ‘you’ in all your presentations, whether live or recorded. The word ‘you’ always hits home.

What quirks have you heard during online or recorded presentations? What examples of superb presentation skills have you witnessed? Feel free to comment below. If you enjoyed this column, could you do me a favor and share it with others? Thanks.

For related reading, see “Some tips to enhance your presentations” and “Resolve to improve your communication skills.” 

If you liked this post, could you do me a favor and share it with others? You may use any of the buttons below. Feel free to comment, as well. To contact me, send an email.

Tom Fuszard, content writer, blog writing, pr writing, web copy



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