I tell my clients it’s the most powerful word in the English language.
It’s personal. It’s intimate. It’s direct. It’s clear. When you say “you,” the person on the other end is very clear that you are talking to them, and no one else. “You” is designed to get their full attention.
Yet, the news media are filled with words like “consumers” and “motorists,” words that are meant to encompass a class of people, but few of us ever use. “Consumers” and “motorists” are impersonal, virtually inanimate. They are things, not people. “You” is a living, breathing human being. And it’s conversational.
Radio is the medium most often where “you” is used to communicate on a one-to-one basis. Television, perhaps, is next. But print! Print media are shackled by things like the AP Stylebook, designed, you’d think, to dehumanize news. Most print stories are antithetical to effective communication.
I’ve always wondered why radio and TV news people don’t use “you” more often to connect to and communicate with their audiences when it so often fits. After all, radio and TV news is supposed to be delivered conversationally.
I’ve also wondered why people being interviewed don’t relate directly to their target audiences one-to-one with a very simple “you” when it fits. Business executives talking through the media to audiences can easily say “you” when they are focused on customers or prospects, for instance.
Certainly, “you” sounds contrived when it doesn’t fit or make sense. But “you” is so much more powerful in delivering strong messaging when it can be substituted for labels like “motorists” or “consumers.”
When I hear radio talk hosts addressing their audience as “folks” or “my friends” or “ladies and gentlemen,” I cringe. They have a golden opportunity to connect, relate and bond with listeners at a much more intimate level just by saying “you,” by thinking of their listeners as a listener (singular), instead the masses (plural).
So, next time you address audiences in any forum, try talking to them as if you are talking to just one of them and say “you.” No matter how large the group, most will hear you talking just to them.
It’s a powerful way to communicate!