Enter the 40/50/x Rule of Inclusive Speaking

Denis Boudreau
5 min readSep 27, 2022
Photo credit — Shutterstock.

A quick poll of communication professionals close to me suggests that a conservative return on speaking investment means that about 10% of audience members will consider buying into one of the many touchpoints we offer as follow-ups. These touchpoints vary from one speaker to another of course, and can include something as simple as connecting over social media, downloading our handout, subscribing to our mailing list, referring us to someone in a position to become our next client, hiring us for a future engagement, etc.

Basically, anything from turning a total stranger into a new social media follower, to your next raving fan, to your next qualified lead, to your next client, and everything in between.

How many people in any given audience of yours can become your next client and contribute to your revenue stream? Does 10% sound about right for your business as well?

Is your conversion rate a bit lower? A bit higher? Whatever that percentage is, recognizing that it is an important factor to identify lost opportunities is the first step toward addressing the impact exclusion has on your bottom line. While there are no absolutes around this, there are certain criteria we can use to estimate the extent of the damage lack of inclusion can cause to our business and to our brand.

My experience shows that it comes down to three key data points, summed up into one concept: the “40/50/x rule”, where:

  • 40 stands for the percentage of your audience, at any given time, that is at significant risk of disengaging from you and your content due to inclusion issues or concerns,
  • 50 stands for 50% of your audience at significant a risk of disengaging that you will ultimately lose to Fadeout Town, because of the barriers you raised in the way of their experience, and
  • X stands for the lost opportunities from that segment of your audience that could have contributed to your revenue stream, but now won’t because they gave up on you.

If you are still reading this post, then I assume that you are buying into the idea that about half of the 40% of audience members at risk are likely to disengage from you due to inclusivity issues. With an audience of 100 people, that means 20 audience members on…

Denis Boudreau

Founder - InklusivComm. Director of training - Deque Systems. National Director, DEI & Marketing - CAPS. Speaker. CPWA. #antiracist #antifascist #BLM