Anthony Haynes writes: One weekend the Classics faculty at Cambridge held a festival. I went along out of interest and attended half a dozen talks.
Five of the speakers began by saying something like ‘Right’ or ‘OK’. One of them began, ‘Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen’. Which one of them do you made me, as a member of the audience, feel respected?
These days I no longer use the ‘Ladies and gentlemen’ formula because of its binary nature. But I still like to use a courteous phrase, with at least a degree of formality. The key point is to signal respect.
Something like, ‘Good morning, everybody. And welcome’.
In terms of presenting yourself professionally, this way must be the easiest of all: after all, how much effort does it require to construct a first sentence using courteous phrasing?