March 2018
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TD Magazine

Weighing In (March 2018)

When addressing training participants, do you go formal with sir and ma'am, hit the middle with titles and surnames, or keep it casual by using first names?

"I use the first name, which is common in Brazil. People here usually feel good when the facilitator calls them by their name."
—Flavia Muraro, São Paulo, Brazil

"In my training classes I print out name tents (or have participants fill out name tents) and use names as much as possible. For other interactions, like a large group workshop, I will use sir or ma'am."
—Jeremy Price, San Antonio, Texas


"People love it when you remember and use their names. I know some trainers use a trick of learning just three names and using those a few times. That way, people assume you know more names than you do. I just prefer to make the effort to learn as many names as possible."
—Catherine Nicholson, Nottingham, United Kingdom

"It depends on the culture. In some places you can set the style (for example, using someone's first name or title, followed by their family name), while in other cultures there are norms you should follow."
—Ian Brownlee, Madrid, Spain

"I always address people by their first names and use their names when repeating a question to the whole group. I find it makes people more comfortable with each other and with me."
—Patrick Wraight, Lake City, Florida

About the Author
The Association for Talent Development (ATD) is a professional membership organization supporting those who develop the knowledge and skills of employees in organizations around the world. The ATD Staff, along with a worldwide network of volunteers work to empower professionals to develop talent in the workplace.
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