October 2021
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TD Magazine

5 Inclusive Language Pointers for Trainers

Friday, October 1, 2021

A facilitator's word choices can either create understanding and connection or sabotage them. Use these tips to eliminate language obstacles that prevent inclusion.

1. Research the audience in advance.


Determine inclusive language choices by discovering the identity words and phrases learners use and integrating them into training materials and talking points.

2. Ask for pronouns.

Using attendees' pronouns is a way to show respect and inclusion. If gender isn't relevant to your topic, keep content gender neutral.

3. Avoid using slang.

Many phrases, such as "cakewalk," "peanut gallery," and "off the reservation," were first used to be harmful to marginalized communities. Use more formal word choices instead.


4. Examine content for bias and stereotypes.

Review facilitator guides and training materials—including images, videos, and illustrations—for content that reinforces implicit bias and stereotypes. Use external reviewers when possible.

5. Welcome feedback and adjust.

Allow participants to share terminology points of order in real time, and use that knowledge to enhance the overall learning experience.

About the Author

Crystal Borde is a vice president and leader of the diversity, equity and inclusion practice at Vanguard Communications, a public relations and social marketing agency based in Washington, DC. An experienced communicator and trainer, she applies a DEI lens to her strategic communications counsel, training development, and campaign planning for government agencies, nonprofit organizations, foundations, and associations addressing such social issues as environmental and racial justice, sustainable agriculture, mental health, substance use prevention, food security, and education equity. In 2021, she was recognized as a DEI Champion by Ragan Communications and PR Daily’s Top Women in Communications Awards and is a frequent contributor to industry publications and guest speaker regarding DEI communication challenges and opportunities.

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