While at an event last week (Integrated Marketing Summit), one of the keynote speakers, and another presenter in a session I picked, proceeded to use some expletives while presenting. More than once actually. While one apologized and blamed it on coffee, the other glossed over it and kept moving along.
I like to consider myself a veteran presenter. I am not sure what seasoned would technically be defined as. I know I have accidentally slipped a couple times over the last decade with a word here and there. However, I apologized immediately and began to wonder what the audience thought of this. I have never had any direct feedback myself, yet the back channels on Twitter and sitting behind some in the audience gave me what I needed to know from this event. It was unacceptable to enough people to make a difference and make me even more aware for the future.
So what does that say about the presenter? Do they not care enough about the audience? Are they looked at as someone with limited tact? Or are they observed as candid, honest and open presenters that are not afraid to be themselves? I think the biggest reflection needs to come from within.
My grandmother would have said there is no instance when in public to use words that are looked upon as dirty by the general population. Some of us grew up where such language may have been used gingerly throughout the household so it becomes second nature and it not frowned upon. Does that make it right to use in presentations?
My opinion is that you should be able to convey your point with the other thousands of everyday words and being to use self control. It is better to be on the safe side of making everyone happy with language choice, rather that offend even a small percentage of attendees. Remember that in today’s real-time flow, your comments are sent instantly to the world and kept somewhere forever.