A recent article in the Chicago Tribune touches on the importance of using discretion while speaking in public. The article boiled down to “just because you think a thought, doesn’t mean you should say it.” It asks us to really review our material, and to reconsider any jokes or ‘digs’ at people we think may add to the speech, when really it could take away from it.
Our words and our voices are important and we should acknowledge those things as such, however when it comes to giving professional presentations, a little slip of the tongue can be hard to recover from.
The article provided great insight, and a few tips to try along the way:
1. Just because someone laughs, doesn’t make it clever.
If part of the audience is laughing, remember it may not be because your “slip” was genuinely funny – but instead, it’s a nervous reaction causing the laughter. Think about where your at, and move on.
2.The classic: KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE.
Ask yourself, would I say this if my co-workers or boss were here? Would I say this to a complete stranger? Will this offend anyone? If the answer is yes to any of these questions, it may be wise to omit your joke from the presentation.
3. There will sometimes/always be a recording.
This is the world we live in; smart phones can make or break us. Realize all eyes (and all technology) are on you, especially if your speaking within a professional capacity. Don’t let your joke come back to haunt you.
4.The most outrageous thing will kill the most important thing.
The whole point of your speech is to present key messages – not to crack jokes. Don’t let what’s funny to you distract an audience from your messaging. Think about all the time and effort you have put in to preparing, and maybe reconsider.