Reaching out to new and more diverse demographics is a fundamental way to improve a business, or further a cause. However, when speaking to an audience with whom you are unacquainted, certain precautions should always be taken. If you are unintentional with your words, you may end up with a community of people who rise against you instead of supporting you. The stakes couldn’t be higher for executives and entrepreneurs. To help you avoid public speaking blunders and gaffes that may hurt your bottom line, we’ve created a short list of things to be conscious of when speaking to a new demographic.
- Avoid stereotypes
While this should be obvious, it is absolutely crucial. You may have thought you were opening with a joke, or maybe you assumed something was safe to say because everyone knows X group can’t Y. These are exactly the types of unintentional mistake that can set off a group of people instantaneously. The problem with stereotypes is that they ultimately undermine the individual. People never feel understood or accurately represented by blanket generalizations. Instead, they will surmise that you are out of touch, inexperienced, or worse ignorant and uninterested in their demographic because you resorted to what “everyone” knows. Also, it should be stated, “everyone” is usually wrong.
- Remember your audience is human
Unfamiliar demographics can be intimidating when you focus on what makes them different. The unfamiliar is uncomfortable, and in the worst cases, your own discomfort can make you resent the group as a whole because you do not like how uncertain you feel around them. These feelings need to be recognized before they become dangerous. Take a moment and remember that they are human. Their differences make them unique, but at the end of the day, they want to be spoken to with respect and understanding, just like you do. It is infinitely harder to offend someone when you start from a place of genuine respect.
- Be Straightforward
Let them know why you need them and why they need you. Part of showing people respect is assuming they are intelligent enough to see through pandering and insincere marketing gimmicks. Being transparent can earn you more trust and cooperation than you might think, and it will save you the effort of creating a facade. Currently, Millennials and Gen Xers are turning against the corporate giants who are using social media platforms to humanize their brands. While the brands create witty and entertaining content, and even respond to individuals in an attempt to seem connected, their potential customers are now rejecting their efforts because they are only screen deep. Behind the tweets are the same billion dollar companies rampant with wealth disparity and inhumane work environments. If these companies really wanted to impress those demographics, they would have to incite real change. Facades crack. If you are straightforward with your audience, you do not run the risk of them calling you out for being “fake.”
We understand that everyone puts their foot in their mouth sooner or later, but with these tips in mind, hopefully, you can avoid doing any real damage. That being said, if you are truly uncertain of how to speak to an unfamiliar demographic you shouldn’t hesitate to hire a professional writer. A little extra help up front can save you from having to write a public apology later. Of course, if the need arises Phenomenal Writing will be there to help with that, too.