Inclusionary and Exclusionary Language

Today I attended the Global Diversity CFP Day – Berlin style. There were 13 amazing mentors and over 20 students – all of us hosted by the awesome Stefan Judis and Irina Botea in the Contentful offices. The day was pre-planned for us by the great Peter Aitken. We watched inspiring educational videos, had discussions and completed exercises. The exercise which struck the biggest chord with the participants was the one on use of exclusionary language within public speaking, and how we can work to be much more inclusionary. Two groups of around 15 people discussed and wrote their ideas down so they could be presented to everyone. Here were the things (formatted as issues) that my group discussed:

Issue #1: general language use

Issue #2: addressing people in the audience

Issue #3: jokes

Issue #4: potentially offensive material in your talk

Issue #5: stereotyping

Issue #6: sexualisation of speakers or audience members

Issue #7: not knowing whether you’ve made the audience uncomfortable

Issue #8: leaving out attendees

Issue #9: audience knowledge levels

Issue #10: advanced vs. beginner

Issue #11: complexity

Issue #12: exerting your privilege

Issue #13: colour-blindness and contrast

Issue #14: distracting aspects

These were all of the issues my group covered, although if we’d had more time, there’d definitely be more!

discussing inclusionary and exclusionary language

^ group discussion :-)

I hope the issues we raised seem relevant to the topic of inclusionary and exclusionary language and practices involving public speaking. Please message me with any of your comments or own ideas!