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Put the “You” before the “I”

 This week’s blog is a guest post by professional speaker and trainer Ethan Rotman. As Principle of ISpeakEASY,  Ethan  has been speaking to groups for over 30 years and has been training presenters for more than 25 years. Ethan brings his excitement and enthusiasm to each workshop and coaching session, leading by example and always showing the importance of preparation.  To learn more about Ethan Rotman and iSpeakEasy visit:

I asked Ethan to submit an article for my blog because I think speaking  (i.e. how we business owners and professionals present ourselves)  is a huge part of marketing. In this post Ethan talks about engaging your audience through the use of  “You” vs. “I”. This tactic translates into success in all aspects of marketing: advertising; blogging; social media; networking;  public speaking.  When we put our audience, customer or prospect first we will always be doing what is best for our business.

Put The “YOU” Before The “I” by Ethan Rotman

Work, family, hobbies, vacation, religion, politics, sexuality – what is your favorite thing to talk about? While not everyone will admit it – most people’s choice is themselves. Likewise, the topic we find most interesting to listen to is again, ourselves. 

Use this to your advantage when trying to capture the attention of your audience. Tell them something you know about them, a quality you admire, or an obstacle they have overcome. Cite the good work they have done or acknowledge their efforts – in a sincere and honest manner. Talk about them before you talk about yourself.  

This technique helps grab the audience’s attention and encourages them to listen to you. It is amazing how engaging it is to hear a person talk about us! Many speakers begin by listing their own credentials and experiences – which most audiences find far less interesting.  

Have you ever been in a crowded room full of noise when suddenly you hear one word above the roar – that word is your name? Your ears perk up and you focus on finding out who said it. It is the one topic that we are always interested in hearing about – regardless of our mood or what else is going on.  

In a speech to a group of volunteers, the mayor of a large city began by talking about the importance of volunteerism, the benefits to the volunteer, and the difference in the world these people are making. He could have talked about his efforts spearheading this program or the accomplishments of his administration but instead he spoke to the audience about the audience and in doing so, gained their attention, their support, and their loyalty.  

A great way to grab and hold your audience’s attention is to speak about something near and dear to them. For example, when speaking to a decision making body (such as a city council) –begin by acknowledging the work the council does in creating a better civic life, When speaking to a potential client acknowledge their successes and the challenges they face.

The next time you are getting ready to speak – put “you” into your sentence before you say “I.” It takes effort to do this, almost as if it is unnatural, but you can learn to do this effectively in a short amount of time.

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