How Boys Can Talk To Girls (And Visa Versa)

by drjim on October 20, 2009

Reaching An Audience Of The Opposite Sex Can Be Difficult (c) - 2008 by Steve Hopson

Reaching An Audience Of The Opposite Sex Can Be Difficult (c) – 2008 by Steve Hopson

Man, as though giving a speech wasn’t hard enough already, then you go ahead and throw that gender thing in there and all of a sudden it gets that much tougher! It can be a challenge when you are asked to talk to an audience made up of members of the opposite gender. How can you not screw-up this speech?

Boys Talking To Girls

Male presenters need to adapt their speeches when they are presenting to a primarily female audience. Neil Chethik has a great deal of experience presenting to female audience and he points out that even in the enlightened age in which we are living, there are still differences between the sexes and a skillful presenter has to know about these differences and find ways to steer around them.

  • R-e-s-p-e-c-t: A male presenter needs to treat his female audience with respect if he wants to have any chance of the speech going well. Women are generally willing to learn from a male presenter; however, they have to feel as though they are being respected.
  • Down To Earth: A man who starts off his presentation by telling his audience how wonderful he is will instantly lose the connection with his female audience. There’s no problem with you being an expert in your area, you just don’t want to come off as being a know-it-all. You can connect with your audience by telling a story that points out a personal failing or error and a female audience will connect with you.
  • Evidence Counts: One of the biggest errors that male presenters make when they are speaking to an all female audience is that they give an emotional presentation and leave out all of the facts. Yes, women do like stories; however, they won’t believe what you are saying unless you can back it up with hard evidence – facts & stats.
  • Humor: talk about a minefield! Many a good speech to a female audience has gone wrong when the male speaker tried to interject some humor. Your best best is to let the humor naturally flow from the stories that you are telling. Trying to work in one-liners can only lead to disaster.

Girls Talking To Boys

Yes, men have it rough when they try to address an all female audience. However, women have it at least as rough and perhaps even rougher when they are called on to present to an all male audience. Once again, there are several ways to make sure that this type of speech goes well:

  • Stand Up: One of the simplest issues for a woman to solve when she’s addressing a male audience is to make sure that they can see her. All too often,  a lectern can overwhelm a speaker and hid her from her audience. Stand on something if needed and adjust the mic so that it works correctly for your height.
  • No Expression Is Good: Often women speakers will become flustered because no matter what they say, the expressions on their male audience won’t change. It turns out that this is very normal – men don’t tend to display their emotions.
  • Be A Straight Shooter: Whereas women tend to enjoy hearing lots of stories, men tend to be more “to the point”. Clearly communicating your main points and making sure that any stories that you do tell quickly come to the point will help to hold their attention.
  • Be A Professional: Men do a good job of dealing with other men. They will struggle with any presenter who comes off as being too “girlish”. This impression can be caused by clothing, gesture, or even a vocal tone that takes away from what you have to say. Ask a male friend that you trust for help in order to make sure that this is not a problem.

Final Thoughts

Giving any presentation can be a challenge. When it is complicated by the additional challenge of having one gender present to the other gender, it can get even more tricky.

The key to making this type of speech a success is for the presenter to acknowledge the situation and adjust the presentation to match it. Men have to make sure that they show respect to their female audience and women need to not get flustered by their male audience’s lack of outward emotions.

Speakers who take the time to adjust what they are going to say and how they are going to say it when addressing the opposite gender will be able to intimately connect with your audience and make an lasting impact in their lives.

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Stop. How funny was the last speech that you gave? What – you were talking about how best to diversify a 401k basket of investments in order to incorporate more foreign exchange funds & there’s nothing funny about that? Wrong. You’re not trying hard enough. Stop being not funny.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Faith January 14, 2010 at 4:30 pm

good stuff…thank you
Faith

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Fascinating April 6, 2011 at 4:47 am

You know, I never thought about this aspect of giving a speech. It does make a difference though and you gave some great tips on how to handle it. I am sure it will come in useful in the future.

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Dr. Jim Anderson April 7, 2011 at 9:39 am

Thanks! Just keep in mind that every audience (both boys & girls) really wants you to succeed when you give a speech. You just need to take the time to understand how they think and you’ll be able to connect with them and give a great speech every time!

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