It's not easy. Even with years of experience you can't pull it off every time. But I occasionally manage to do it - to say "Mss" so it sounds like Mrs, Ms or Miss so I don't offend anyone. The trick is to emphasise the surname and make the title really quick so it collides with the surname.
The sport has been reduced a bit this time, because our EARS seems to print a few Ms,Miss or Mrs titles.
Dear old Alex Foster on Niles Blogs presents many doorstep dilemmas, several of which can be avoided in extremis by not saying the person's name and saying at the end: "...and you are...?.(helping them out with a suggestion from the list if needed!)".
Other rules I follow but which are probably wrong, and will probably result in me being ritually disembowelled by the ALDC executive committee, are:
-I certainly never get into first names unless there are clearly several competing people with the same surname and sex in the household.
-I always press the bell and knock, at the same time to avoid annoyance.
-I always find it reassuring to be armed with this response ready to give anyone who says "NO I WILL BE VOTING CONSERVATIVE" or similar:
"Thank you for that very valuable information for our records. Goodbye". (Bliss!)
-Another tip: If you see people masticating inside the house, avoid them - they are bound to be Conservatives, because they are habitual masticators.
-ALWAYS assume that a youngster can vote unless they look ridiculously young (e.g have a dummy in their mouth)- if you make a mistake and assume they can vote when they can't, they will be very flattered and correct you anyway. Better to do that than the other way round and get it wrong and offend them if they can vote.
-And relax, it's only a blinking election!