Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Avoid anything that anyone might consider profane, vulgar, or in bad taste. This can include words, language, or jokes that may be perceived as racist, sexist, or a put-down. An innocent “hell” or “damn” might be terribly offensive to someone in the audience.

Pay attention to special concerns and taboos in certain cultures, companies, or nations. Keep your entire content rated “G” for General Audiences. The Mother Rule may help. Would you say it in front of someone’s mother? All right, I admit some mothers use language that could embarrass Eddie Murphy. The point being it is not worth the risk.

If you are presenting to a culture other than your native culture, consider the book, Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands by Terri Morrison, Wayne A. Conaway, and George A. Borden.

Many years ago, I used the word “panties” while telling a story during a presentation to a large audience at a Fortune 500 company in the Midwest. I did a lot of business with that company until that day. The word “panties” offended one person in that audience. That person happened to be highly influential at the company and made sure I was not invited back.

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