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Ten PC Tips for Communicating with a Diverse Audience

By Simma Lieberman

By learning to speak to a diverse audience, you can broaden your client base and transfer the learning to more people.

Look at everyone in the audience and smile at them.

We need to be more "PC." Were not talking "political correctness," were talking "Positively Conscious" of who is in our audience and understanding how to make people feel included. The more people feel included, the more they will listen to you, use your information and come back for more. If you offend people they will shut down and you will lose them.

  1. Use words that include rather than exclude. While some women don't mind being called ladies, in a professional setting the word women is more appropriate. Be "positively conscious" of pronouns when discussing hypothetical cases. I have been inn workshops where the facilitator spoke as though all managers were "he" and all administrative support were "she." Metaphors are very effective. Remember to mix them. Don't use only sports metaphors. Have a balance. In Europe when they think of football they think of soccer. Be aware that people have different abilities. Instead of telling everyone to stand, you might say everyone who is able please stand, and have a way for others to participate in the exercise.
  2. Learn the demographics of the audience before your presentation, and prepare.
  3. Do not assume everyone shares your religious beliefs.
  4. Look at everyone in the audience and smile at them. Speakers can have a tendency to visually relate to people who look more like them. Assume everyone wants to be valued.
  5. Do not use humor that puts down any particular group. If you are not sure, get feedback from others.
  6. Examine your assumptions about people who are different than you. Be open to letting go of those assumptions.
  7. Do not be afraid to ask for the correct pronunciation of someone's name.
  8. If someone has an accent and you can't understand them, ask them to repeat what they said slowly, because what they are saying is important to you.
  9. Use methodology in your presentations to accommodate different learning styles. Visual Auditory Kinesthetic
  10. Be comfortable with silence. In some cultures that can mean respect and attention. Be comfortable with direct interaction. In some cultures that can mean respect and attention. Be comfortable with saying, " I don't know."

About the Author: Simma Lieberman works with people and organizations to create environments where people can do their best work. She specializes in diversity, gender communications, life-work balance and stress, and acquiring and retaining new customers.

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