When creating your material for a speech or presentation, it is important to consider ethics in what you say because your integrity depends on it. Your ability to establish a career as a public speaker will be determined not just by a dynamic delivery, but by several other factors as well. Is what you are saying fair, just, honest, and/or moral? |
If your ethics are in question, you will get caught sooner or later. Kevin Trudeau, the renowned infomercial host, author, and radio personality was sentenced to prison for bilking his customers. Numerous news services reported that U.S. District Judge Ronald Guzman described Trudeau “as a habitual fraudster going back to his early adulthood. So brazen was Trudeau, the judge said, he once even used his own mother's Social Security number in a scheme.”
In Abraham Lincoln's words, "You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time." Kevin Trudeau learned this truth the hard way and will be paying for it as he sits in jail for the next 10 years.
Ethics goes further than dealing with the truth versus an untruth however. As a speaker, you should never use name-calling: treat others as you would want to be treated yourself. If you humiliate, patronize, demean, or degrade any other individuals or groups, you are serving only one purpose and that is the debasing of yourself.
Regarding political correctness, my first and only experience in which I was ‘politically incorrect’ occurred when I spoke to a group of business people at the Ivey School of Business in the early 90’s. Admittedly, I wasn’t even familiar with the term ‘political correctness’ at that time.
My audience consisted of all races and ethnic backgrounds and I made the statement that, as a people, the Orientals were more soft-spoken than Westerners. (I know – that sounds terribly dated!) After finishing my presentation, the woman who had hired me to teach at this institution, pulled me aside and told me in no uncertain terms that I was never to use the term ‘Oriental’ again, explaining that they were Asians
My mistake at the Canadian business school was one of ignorance. Today, we are all familiar with the term and we all understand its meaning; therefore, it is your responsibility to be careful of what you say so as not to offend anyone in your audience.
If you treat your audience with respect and with honesty, then your ethical decisions will be well-founded. Remember, your audience has gone out of their way to hear you speak – they will be the reason for your potential success or your failure. Never give them an opportunity to question your ethics.
The Voice Lady Nancy Daniels offers private, corporate and group workshops in voice and presentation skills as well as Voicing It!, the only video training program on voice improvement. For more information on upcoming workshops, visit Nancy's Voice Training Workshops.
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