The Speaking Differences Between Men And Women

How do men and women speak differently?
How do men and women speak differently?
Image Credit: Maryland GovPics

It goes without saying that men and women are different. However, when it comes to speaking, are men and women different? I think that if you asked most of us, we’d all say that yes they are different. However, after having said that, we’d have problems telling you just exactly how they are different. I think that men probably do a better job at some speeches than women and women do a better job at other speeches than men do. Perhaps if we understood what the differences between how men and women give speeches, we could all become better speakers.

What’s So Different?

During the past four decades, a great deal of research has been done on the communication styles of both men and women. This research has focused on the differences between them. What they have found is that women’s communication patterns typically affirm their traditionally subordinate role in society. Speakers need to ask if this mean that women who want to be successful speakers should emulate men?

Many speakers think so – because they tend to think that the male style is the “so – called” norm. The truth is that men’s typical speech patterns are necessary in some situations, while women’s patterns can be just as important in other situations.

If we as speakers can find ways to employ the best of both styles, then we can be successful communicators. So just exactly what are these differing styles? Although study results can vary, general differences between men’s and women’s speaking styles show up in three main areas: verbosity, word choice, and topic.

How Men And Women Talk

When it comes to verbosity, studies have long suggested that women converse much more often than men do. But the researchers note that social context can be the key to who talks more. Men tend to speak far more often than women do in the public sphere. Evidence collected by American, British and New Zealand researchers shows that men dominate the talking time in places such as committee meetings, staff meetings, seminars and task-oriented decision-making groups. It turns out that men are more often silent on the home front. This kind of insight is vital for speakers to understand. Speakers can take advantage of the surprise factor. If a woman raises her voice in a venue typically dominated by men, her action will be seen as unusual. Depending on how she uses other communication skills, this element of novelty may cause people to pay closer attention to her. This can give her an edge. Likewise, men who take the time to master the art of intimate conversation have an advantage when it comes to family connections, dating and other interpersonal relations.

How men and women choose words is also different. Female speech tends to be more correct than males. This is both in terms of the grammar that is being used (e.g., “whom” vs. “who”) and the pronunciation. When speaking, men tend to use more regional dialect, such as “settin’” rather than “sitting.” When speaking, females tend to be more polite in their language, using fewer swear words and more of the “thank-you”, “please” and “you’re welcome” phrases. Women’s speech is often devised to prevent the expression of strong statements. When speaking to older people, and in formal situations, using this approach can reap benefits for a speaker. The key is to know when we should use this approach. Using hedging statements like the ones women typically use – for example prefacing a remark with “I guess” , “I think” or “It seems to me” – may not convey authority when in the boardroom; however, they can be useful in defusing anger and promoting cooperation during a speech.

How much detail to include in a speech is another area where men and women tend to differ. All too often it is a man who feels that a woman speaker is over-sharing personal details rather than the other way around. In general, women tend to provide more information about themselves during a speech than do men, especially when it comes to sharing their problems, weaknesses or family issues with others. We need to realize that revealing personal information is not always an appropriate strategy, particularly when we are in a business setting. However, a speaker who can allow themself to be vulnerable in front of others possesses a kind of reverse power – the ability to make people feel empathy and connection with them. When giving a speech to a group at a funeral, spiritual gathering or other emotional event, sharing your intimate details may be an excellent strategy.

What All Of This Means For You

I think that we can all agree that no man or woman uses the communication style considered stereotypical of his or her gender all of the time. Rather, these gender-based speech patterns express styles of looking at oneself and one’s relationships that range from being submissive and cooperative to being dominant and individualistic.

The ability to adapt our next speech to our message and our audience gives us tremendous flexibility and thus effectiveness. This is true whether we are speaking in the office, on a podium or at home. We need to understand that’s the real power – no matter who you are.

– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Public Speaking Skills™

Question For You: Do you think that it is possible for men and women to adopt each other’s speaking styles?

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Note: What we talked about are advanced speaking skills. If you are just starting out I highly recommend joining Toastmasters in order to get the benefits of public speaking. Look for a Toastmasters club to join in your home town by visiting the web site Toastmasters is dedicated to helping their members to understand the importance of public speaking by developing listening skills and getting presentation tips. Toastmasters is how I got started speaking and it can help you also!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Let’s face it: writing a speech is something that most of us find difficult to do. However, if you want to kick things up a notch, then just imagine how hard it must be to write a speech for someone else? However, that is exactly what will happen to most of us at some point in time. If you find yourself in a situation where you have agreed to create a speech that someone else will end up giving, then you are going to have to understand how to go about doing this difficult task.