One of the worst career-limiting presentation mistakes is making distasteful jokes or talking about inappropriate topics. And it’s also very common – understandable when you consider the heady mix of nerves and adrenaline pumping around your body when you’re presenting. A misjudged joke can be very costly for your career.
If you’ve ever seen the TV programme Fawlty Towers, you might recognise this line from Basil (played by John Cleese):
“Listen, don’t mention the war! I mentioned it once, but I think I got away with it all right. [returns to the Germans] So! It’s all forgotten now, and let’s hear no more about it. So, that’s two egg mayonnaise, a prawn Goebbels, a Hermann Goering, and four Colditz salads.”
Unless Basil Fawlty is your role model, avoid ‘doing a Basil’. As you probably know it would be advisable to leave out politics, religion, death and other potentially sensitive subjects from your presentation (assuming you’re not an international peacekeeper, priest or Prime Minister, of course). It’s also a good idea to steer clear of topics like age, appearance, sex and wealth, unless essential to your message.
In addition to these no-go topics, there may be more specific sensitivities to consider. For example, you might be making a faux pas if you mention something in the company history such as a product recall or redundancies. It is your job as presenter to uncover any sensitivities, and either speak about them appropriately or not at all.
Simply Amazing Training offers professional presentation skills training courses for individuals and companies. Have a look at the Guide to our most popular training courses and presentation skills workshops, or call me today for an informal chat to discuss your requirements.