How do you know what will be acceptable to say to an audience?
Many times the line can be blurred between:
- Wanting to create an impact on the audience. Wanting to make them laugh and to engage them with examples and rhetorical devices and…
- Overstepping social and cultural boundaries by saying something offensive.
We don’t often achieve what we want by playing it safe. It is necessary to push beyond our own comfort zone and to many times push the audience out of their comfort zone to deliver an effective speech.
On the flipside, we don’t achieve what we want by being offensive.
When I am unsure of how a topic, example or subject will be accepted by an audience, there are three ways I determine if I should use it or not.
- The best option is to test it on non-crucial audiences and get their reaction and feedback.
- The next option is to run it by a few trusted peers who understand the audience I will be speaking to and get their opinion.
- Lastly, I use some advice I received from Jim Key, one of my fellow World Champions of Public Speaking. Jim said he lives by the mantra “When in doubt — Leave it out!”
There are numerous ways to craft a speech and make your point. You can create a beautiful talk with a great message and lose the some or all of the audience with one inappropriate comment.
Using questionable material and subject matter in a talk is simply an admission of one’s lack of ability and creativity.
Take the high road and always leave your audiences better than you found them!