FILWP Presenting Tip #001: Drop the ‘guys’, guys!
FILWP PRESENTING TIP #001: DROP THE ‘GUYS’, GUYS!
FILWP Presenting Tip #001 is about something that happens so often that you’ll probably be surprised that you’d not thought of it before. Yet, you’ll also be surprised how often you notice it from now on, not just in official ‘presentations’, but also in everyday situations.
As you might have noticed, generally speaking, most men don’t appreciate being called a girl and most women don’t like being called a man.
Imagine that you address a mixed audience (men and women) like this: “Ok girls, here’s what we’re going to do next.” or “Ok men, please turn to page 5 …”
Hmmm, feels a bit ‘off’, doesn’t it? Exactly. It feels ‘off’ because it is ‘off’.
‘Guys’ is an informal form of the word ‘men’. Just because you’ve not thought of it or don’t think that it matters does not change the meaning of the a word.
Yet, notice how many speakers address their mixed audience in the masculine form of “Ok guys …” I’ve even heard female speakers do it.
WHAT IT MEANS, AND DOESN’T MEAN
This does not (necessarily) make them sexist, ‘a male chauvinist pig’ or spiritually less evolved, nor does it make them a bad speaker.
It simply means that they are less likely to deeply connect with the women in the audience.
IT’S NOT ABOUT YOUR INTENT; IT’S ABOUT YOUR IMPACT
This has nothing to do with being politically correct; it has everything to do with you presenting yourself and your material in a way that lands as well as possible with as many people in the audience as possible.
Just because we live in a (still, mostly) paternalistic world and just because some women might be so accustomed to be grouped in as ‘guys’ that they don’t even notice it anymore consciously, does not mean that you are (1) including or (2) engaging them when you address them as ‘men’; you’re not.
I get it that some women might genuinely be OK with being called ‘guys’. It’s just that as a speaker you won’t necessarily know who’ll be OK with it and who won’t, so why take the risk of alienating anyone in your audience?
A SIMPLE SOLUTION THAT COSTS NOTHING AND INCLUDES EVERYONE
The solution is simple: address your audience with a simple, natural and all-inclusive “everyone” or “everybody” or, if a more formal attitude is required, “ladies and gentlemen”.