Rebel Uprising Podcast

The Most Important Word In Any Presentation

Don't you hate it when a speaker gets up and waxes on poetically about themselves for the first 5 minutes of a presentation? It's all Me, Me, Me. You're yawn, yawn, yawning.

Why is that? What makes you fall into a stupor of boredom when a speaker focuses on himself first?

You - the most awesome word ever

You – the most awesome word ever

YOU – you are missing.

This is why YOU is the most important word in any presentation.

Minimize I & Maximize You

As a speaker, you are the conduit of information that will inform, persuade, inspire or entertain your audience. Yep, you are just a conduit in a presentation. When the focus is on the I – this how I work with my clients or I do this or I do that – you've just made yourself the most important person in the room. Maximize you – minimize I.

This goes for bloggers too – do you find your self clicking away from an article because there are more “I”s in the first paragraph? I do. I don't care about the I – I care about seeing myself in your content.

Speak to one

When you focus on the “you,” you focus on the audience. Whether you are speaking to five people or 505 people, those are the most important people in the room.

The brilliant, Craig Valentine, often says that in public speaking you should speak to one in order to capture the minds of many. He has the hallway test. Imagine walking past a friend in a hallway and saying “How many of you have been to Bora Bora?” Your friend would at you like you lost your ever-lovin' mind. You'd never say that to one person. You'd say “Have you been to Bora Bora?”

If you can't say something in your presentation to just one person, then chuck it, revise it or rewrite it. The focus needs to be on the you in your audience.

You increases engagement

Using you – increases the audience's engagement in your speech. I'm curently working on a speech encouraging people to embrace emotions when grieving. (Yeah that sounds happy, doesn't it?) Let's look at two different ways I could phrase a line from my speech.

Everyone has difficult times during their life.


Have you ever hit a rough patch in your life?

Which made you think more? The second one, right? It immediately makes you think of a time that was hard for you. It puts you into the speech. Even though I am going to talk about a personal story – you are going to relate it to your life.

YOU is the most important word in presentations

Always be inviting your audience into your speech. Ask them questions. Make them feel like you are only talking to them. Let them experience a story you are telling through their own life.  Increased engagement leads to more successful presentations and happier audiences.

What say you? How do you invite your audience into your speech?

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30 responses to “The Most Important Word In Any Presentation”

  1. Daniel Alexander says:

    Good post.
    So very true what you say about “me, me, me.”
    I also like your comment “Speak to one.”
    I’m re-writing some of my talks at the moment, so this kind of information is great!

    • Michelle Mazur says:

      Thank you Daniel! Yes, always speak to one person and it will help you engage many. Good luck re-writing your talks. I’m glad the information is helpful.

  2. Anna Rydne says:

    So true, Michelle! To be able to connect, it’s important not to speak to a mass, nor to be self-centered. People tend to forget that, both in presentations and in marketing. Your article adressed the issue in a very clear manner.

    (It’s not my meaning to self-promote, and I don’t want to speak too much “I” here, but if you’re interested, I’ve written about simular things in this article: )


    • Michelle Mazur says:

      I think the “you” rule applies to so many different types of communications – blogs, advertising, Twitter, marketing and presentations.

      Please feel free to leave a link. It’s always great to have good quality content. I enjoy reading your blog a whole lot.

  3. Heidi says:

    Thanks for the tips – will keep this in mind as I write my blogs.

    • Michelle Mazur says:

      You’re welcome, Heidi. You is always an important word in blogging. Unless you are doing a more self-disclosure type blog.

  4. Eileen says:

    YOU are so right! Thanks for’s something we feel too!

  5. Kenna Griffin says:

    This is an excellent reminder. I want to work on the “you” focus for my classroom lectures. I appreciate the way you laid it all out here. Thank you!

    • Michelle Mazur says:

      You are so welcome Kenna! Let me know how it goes in a classroom setting. I taught for 12 years – I know how hard it can be to engage students.

  6. jsncruz says:

    I just gave a talk a few hours ago and having put your article into practice, I can attest to the power of being ‘personal’ to a large group of people. It results in people actually listening and paying attention, as well as receiving inspiring feedback later on.

    • Michelle Mazur says:

      That is so awesome Jason! Well done. It’s surprising how you can peak a group of people’s interest by speaking directly to just one. Glad it worked for you.

  7. Bruce Sallan says:

    YOU wrote a smart column, but enough about you, let’s talk about ME…

    LOL…I also think a GREAT speaker does it extemporaneously!

    • Michelle Mazur says:

      Thank you Bruce! I’d love to talk about YOU any old time.

      I agree – great speakers incorporate the you extemporaneously. They keep it conversational. They aren’t talking to 50 people – they are having chat with a few friends.

  8. Sandy Jenney says:

    Great tips. You never think about “you” being so important. lol

  9. Dad of Divas says:

    Great ideas and tips! Putting the “you” into the presentation is so important and most people forget about it!

    • Michelle Mazur says:

      Yes – it is often forgot. It all goes back to the principle that the audience or really whoever we are talking to is the most important at that moment.

  10. Craig Hadden – Remote Possibilities says:

    You’re spot on!

    It’s crucial to focus on using “you” and “your”, even when writing a blog post as you say. (In a post, using “you/your” is especially useful in the opening few words, which are what get shared automatically on Twitter and when you publish.)

    For talks, Darren LaCroix (former World Champ of public speaking) talks about opening with a “you-focused question”. So it would be very powerful to open with your line: “Have you ever…?”

    When using “you” in a talk (and reusing old slides), the post below does warn about something to look out for though:

    Just recently I discovered Craig Valentine’s work, and you’re right about him as well – being brilliant. His free weekly podcasts at (with transcripts for the audio-averse) are fab!

    So, thanks for a great post.

    • Michelle Mazur says:

      Thank YOU!

      Darren is actually the keynote speaker for my Toastmasters District conference. Excited to learn from him for sure. The you focused question is so important. I’ve been noticing the lack of YOU in speeches lately. It’s such a small but powerful tweak to make in language.

      Craig has awesome material as well. His 52 tips is well worth the 52 weeks. Thank you for stopping by Craig!

  11. Akash says:

    Hi Michelle,

    It’s always a pleasure to read you. Not just because what you write connects straight-away, but also because those are some most frequent and simplest of things that are not being taken care of while presenting, no rocket science!

    Great work!

    – Akash
    authorSTREAM Team

    • Michelle Mazur says:

      Aww – thank Akash! I do like to point out that speaking is not rocket science. Anyone can get better with just a work and knowledge!

  12. Simon Morton says:

    Great article, Michelle. Spookily we have just added a similar message to our blog entitled “Note to Self – The Audience Owes Me Nothing…& I Owe Them Everything”

    It features a really interesting and revealing video clip from Tom Peters about giving your all to your audience – you can view it here:

    Hope you like it – keep up the great work!


    • Michelle Mazur says:

      Nice blog! Interesting video but not sure if it resonates with me completely. My experience with speaking is that it completely energizes me. When I connect with an audience, I have this buzz like high that keeps me going for hours. I never want to collapse. I’m like a kid after a ride on a roller coaster – I want to do it again, again and again and as soon as possible. Maybe it’s because I am an extravert!

  13. lynnepion1 says:

    Merci pour ce rappel! Un article très intéressant.

    • Michelle Mazur says:

      Pas de quoi. One of the only phrase I remember from French class. I’m glad you enjoyed the article!

  14. Sunny Letot says:

    I do a lot of political speaking, grassroots speaking re. issues and concerns, as well as some informational speaking. I agree with speaking to “you”, but I’d add another. When speaking to motivate, I find “you” to be enabling, and then “we” becomes incredibly helpful. Suddenly, I’m not speaking to “you,” “we’re” ALL engaged in the same process, the same goal. And I NEVER stay behind a podium — no barriers between me and my audience, since we’re all working together.

  15. Isabel Dzifa Attu says:

    Thank a million michelle. I’m looking to start a blog and i believe that this information is just as essential in helping me start my blog as it for a presentation.

    • Michelle Mazur says:

      Yes – it’s essential in blogging too. It will make your blogging feel more like a conversation which makes it far easier for the readers to engage in with you.

  16. How to Kill a Persuasive Speech With One Tiny Word says:

    […] few weeks ago, I asked you what’s the most important word in any presentation? (Hint: The answer is […]

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