Okanagan Panorama

What are topics that need to be avoided in public speaking?

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I gave a humorous public speech and I said “men photoshop biceps & women photoshop breasts”. After the speech I realized how bad my thoughts are. I felt I should have avoided talking about Breasts. Like this what topics should I never talk about or rules of public speaking (never hurt any 1 , etc.)

As originally answered on Quora.com

I’m curious to know if what you describe as your bad thoughts were initiated by second-guessing yourself or by feedback from your audience? Also, is it actually true that men photoshop biceps & women photoshop breasts? If it is a fact, then how can it be bad to talk about it?

It has been forwarded in other responses that there are topics that you should stay away from, to avoid upsetting certain audience members. At the same time, it is also said that there really shouldn’t be any taboo subjects. It is a matter of speaking about the right topic to the appropriate audience.

A rule of thumb that I learned long ago about using humour is that it is okay to poke fun at a group that you are a member of. Self-deprecating humour is considered to be better than making fun, embarrassing or shaming another person. In your example of “men photoshop biceps & women photoshop breasts”, not knowing your gender, I would assume that you are male.

I don’t see anything inherently wrong with your statement. While the idea is to speak to everyone in an audience, there will always be somebody who takes offence to something. That’s their problem, not yours.

Stand-up comics are successful when they disrupt our usual way of looking at things.

So to conclude, I don’t believe that there is a master list of topics that need to be avoided in public speaking. Perhaps the world would be an even better place if we did talk about some of the topics that have earned a taboo reputation.

Thanks for your question. 

Rae Stonehouse

Author Bio:

Rae A. Stonehouse is a Canadian born author & speaker. His professional career as a Registered Nurse working predominantly in psychiatry/mental health, has spanned four decades.

Rae has embraced the principal of CANI (Constant and Never-ending Improvement) as promoted by thought leaders such as Tony Robbins and brings that philosophy to each of his publications and presentations.

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