Tom Antion suggests a ration of 10 “you’s” to every “I” that is used in a speaking engagement. I’m against this on two levels. First, when we get to counting metrics in a speech, we’re forgetting the most important issue at stake — did we reach the audience and move them (hopefully in a positive way)? While I’ll always advocate cleaner and clearer communication, I’ve heard some mechanically horrible speakers who were effective and got their message across. I count that as success (with the hope they could be better next time).But perhaps my greater opposition to Tom’s metric is that I really think there is a better pronoun to use — “we“. Using ‘I‘ is focused on the speaker, a clear violation of Rule #1. But “you” has implications that may be just as bad, namely, bringing attention to a separation between the speaker and the audience. While there certainly are times this is appropriate, most audiences will respond much better to a speaker that includes herself with the audience and builds a bridge to make common ground. A speaker who talks about “you people” gives the indication that he thinks he is separate from the issues at stake. Politicos know all too well that there is value in identifying with the constituency, and they go to great lengths to give that impression.(we) Speakers, leaders, and communicators should know the same thing applies.
Use inclusive pronouns and speech.