Your I to You Ratio

An I for An I will always produce a boring speech

20191014_145242Have you spoken about yourself lately? What was your I to You Ratio? In that presentation, how many times did you use I to refer to yourself, and how many times did you use the collective You? We all use more than ten thousand words daily. Consciously or subconsciously, those two little words, I and You, influence our style of communication. Language and the words we use most often, shape our behavior, not only in our everyday conversation but also in our speeches and presentations.

When we are on the platform, some of our audience members may quietly ask themselves this question: does this presentation relate to my wants or my interest? Notice the focus is not on You the speaker; it is on “You” or “Them” the audience. The self-interest of your audience has to be validated when you are on the platform. Your work as the speaker is bringing your I’s, your accomplishments, your topic, your objectives, and the You’s, the audiences’ What’s In It For Me -Their “WIFM” into alignment.

Your ability to look at a softcopy of your speech or presentation will heighten your ability to focus on the number to times you use “I” versus “You” in your communicating. To change your “I to You Ratio,” look at each sentence and test the effect it may have on your audience if you switch from I to the collective You. When you use the word You, you are speaking to the listener’s interest also. That simple change makes You, the speaker more relevant and credible. Instantly the focus of your audience’s shifts from You, the speaker to You or Them, the audience.

We all have had to endure speeches about speakers and their accomplishments. We all have asked ourselves as audience members at some time, what about me, what about us. By no means am I saying speakers should not use I’s in their speeches or presentations. Speakers may want to keep this in mind – An I for An I will always produce a boring speech. Try using ten You’s for every one I as a rule of thumb. While ten may not always be achievable, any change in your ratio will make a vast difference in your connection with your audience, whether your purpose is to be informative or persuasive.

When your audience can relate to you, the speaker, the universal question of your audience members, is answered. That question is:- “What’s in it for me” – “Station WIFM.” Change to that station, and you may change a life. Try stepping outside of your habitual vocabulary, starting with your use of I and You. Just that simple change can make you a more engaging and authentic speaker when you are on the platform.

Word of caution, avoid using You in an accusative manner. When you use an I or You, look for ways your audience may relate to each case. Test your usage by asking, how does this “I” relate to the wants and needs of “You,” my listeners. Focus on how you use those two little words in your daily communication, and you will become a transformational presenter all because of that tiny but significant change to your “Your I to You Ratio.”

Author: HenryOMiller

Henry joined Toastmasters in 1997. He is presently a member of 4 Toastmasters clubs; two in Santa Cruz and two in San Jose. He is a DTM-4. Henry is an executive speech coach, humorist, and speechwriter. He is also a musician and a lyricist​ whose speechwriting approach is similar to his approach to songwriting.

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