Updated: Jan 2, 2020
With increasing self-awareness and cultural diversity in our midst, it has become imperative that we make our start-ups and tech events more inclusive on all accounts. In a short period, it has been found that good communication and interpersonal skills can go a long way for entrepreneurs.
The crux of the matter lies in the art of making connections, along with accepting and celebrating differences. This, in turn, allows you to appreciate and reach out to a wide range of audiences that will ultimately be the key to success. Following are some tactics that you can adapt to integrate the best inclusive language when addressing your audience.
1. Prioritize Your Audience
When addressing individuals, do not mention specific characteristics that might take away from their essence as a team player, i.e. race, religion, gender, and sexual orientation. This shows maturity on your part and recognition of that person as an integral part of your project instead of just another marginalized or generalized entity.
2. Avoid Slang/Jargon
There are countless phrases that you as a native or expert use daily. However, it is essential to keep in mind that not everybody in your audience is familiar with your everyday jargon and technical terminology. Therefore, it is always wise to avoid these phrases to make the audience more included as you talk them through the process.
3. Avoid Degrading Phrases
Although you might have the best of intentions at heart, common phrases such as “victimhood,” “physically challenged,” “handicapable” etc. can come across as extremely offensive. You need to keep in mind that your audience’s afflictions (if any) need not interfere with your start-up or tech structure and therefore causes the attempted empathy to fall flat rather than making an impact.
4. Use Gender-Neutral Terminology
Casually throwing around addresses such as “guys,” “homies” is considered sexist in such cases. It is always better to gender-neutral terms and uses pronouns to refrain to singling anybody out. You can do this by just replacing his/her with ‘their/them/they’ etc.
5. It’s Okay To Ask Questions
It is a universally accepted fact that human beings are flawed. Therefore it is okay to make mistakes. You need to be able to have the appropriate headspace to remedy them. Additionally, you do not be afraid to ask questions if you are ever unsure of what your audience wants, i.e. preferred pronouns, etc. It might even make you come across as more empathetic and sensitive to your audience’s emotions.
Taking a leap of faith and coming into this arena can seem very daunting. Every little mistake can feel like a step back. However, it is essential to have faith and give yourself due credit. By simply adopting the aforementioned guidelines, you will find that most of your worries will fade away because you have already won over the audience, now it’s just a matter of making them stay!
Author: Austin Stanfel
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