Another View of “You”

Readers of this blog are familiar with our frequent recommendation to deploy the word “you” liberally in presentations because it serves to involve the audience directly.

An alternative view of the pronoun comes from John Castaldi’s blog on the Impact Learning Systems website:

After 20 years of mar­riage, I admit that I have learned a lot from my wife. (Yes, hus­bands are train­able.) One thing I noticed, when my wife needs to com­mu­ni­cate tasks to be done, she usu­ally says:

“We need to take the garbage out tonight.”

“We should wash the dishes before watch­ing the video.”

“We need to get gas for the car.”

Now, initially, the ‘we’ was con­fus­ing, espe­cially since the cat doesn’t do chores. What I even­tu­ally learned is that, that was her way of not mak­ing it per­sonal, and not plac­ing blame. She sim­ply replaced the finger-pointing “you” with “we.”

Mr. Castaldi knows whereof he speaks; he is addressing two-way interpersonal relationships in which each party is equal to the other. While presentations strive to create effective communication between speaker and audience, the relationship is primarily that of a solicitor and solicited, and so the solicitor must defer to the solicited. This is achieved by providing the solicited—the audience—with benefits.

You can prompt the benefit by saying, “What’s in it for you?”