Speaking Engagement Talk Synopses

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Dr. Tannen offers talks on a range of topics. Among those most frequently requested are listed below.

Please contact Deborah Tannen’s assistant, Kate Murray, at tannend@georgetown.edu or 202-687-5910 if you are interested in inviting Dr. Tannen as a speaker.


Why don’t we just say what we mean?  We do—but how we say what we mean tends to vary by gender (as well as by many other influences, such as culture, region, and personality).  Most ways of speaking work well when expectations are shared but can result in miscommunication and mis-evaluation when they’re not. Drawing on the original research described in her best-selling books, You Just Don’t Understand and Talking from 9 to 5, and tracing gender patterns to children’s use of language in same-sex play, Dr. Tannen explains how women and men tend to (and are expected to) use language in the workplace—and how the differences in those conversational styles can affect who gets heard, who gets ahead, and what gets done.  Presenting video clips of real interaction to illustrate both children’s play and adults’ use of language at work, the lecture provides an overview of the many ways of speaking that can vary by gender, then explores in depth how women and men tell others what to do.  The lecture concludes with suggestions for avoiding and overcoming the negative consequences of differing speaking patterns, giving audience members tools to use to improve their work lives.

Can We Talk? Women and Men in Conversation

Talk between women and men can feel at times like cross-cultural communication. The reason, Deborah Tannen shows, is that, in many ways, it is!  Drawing on the original research described in her #1, four-year New York Times best-seller You Just Don’t Understand, Dr. Tannen shows why women and men can walk away from the same conversation with completely different ideas of what was said.  Tracing gendered patterns to children’s use of language at play-- illustrated by real-life video clips-- the lecture then uses examples of typical conversations to uncover the logic behind both women’s and men’s conversational styles, and to explain how those differences can lead to frustration on both sides.  With her amusing and non-judgmental approach, Dr. Tannen concludes with suggestions for avoiding and overcoming miscommunication resulting from gender-related ways of speaking.

Based on an organization’s needs and interests, the lecture can include exploration of adult family relationships, and can also focus on any one of these: mothers and daughters, sisters and brothers, women's and men's use of social media.