Most truths about communication are timeless. With all the cultural and political tension we observe today it might seem this was written as a response to that tension. However, in fact, it is one more look into how to be the most effective safety motivational speaker possible.

So how important is it to be politically correct? As a safety motivational speaker, I can tell you it is critical. I wish you didn’t have to be careful how you say something but throughout the ages it has always been important.

Why is it important?

It is all about effectiveness. If you want your safety message to be effective, you must be sure it doesn’t offend members of your audience.  When a safety speaker says or does something people find offensive, it changes the value of their message. No matter how valuable your content is, it will be valued less if you offend your audience.

This is because the messenger is a vital part of the message. To illustrate, let’s imagine the audience has a rating of you that equals 100. That is also the highest value of any message you could deliver. The more an audience likes and respects the speaker, the more effective their message. That is part of the purpose of a good safety speaker’s introduction. The person introducing the safety motivational speaker is telling the audience how relevant and what level of expertise the speaker brings to them.

Once they are introduced or when they begin, it is up to them whether that opinion is reinforced or lowered. Content and perceived value of the information shared is important, but they can be easily undermined by an offensive statement.

If a speaker uses a word or phrase which is offensive to someone in the audience, that someone drops their opinion of the speaker immediately. Once this drops, the value of the message is weakened, also. That’s presuming they are still even listening at that point.

I used to think the only problem was the degradation of their opinion of the speaker and their message. I have since learned there is a bigger issue.

Internal dialogue

When a safety speaker says the wrong thing, the offended audience member begins talking to themselves. “Why did they say that?” “Don’t they know that’s inappropriate?” “Why did the company allow them to speak?” “Should I complain to HR?”

Guess what? While they are having this internal dialogue they are not hearing the message you are giving. It is a double problem. First, they think less of the speaker and their message and second, they aren’t hearing much of the message at all.

It’s about effectiveness

Once again, it isn’t about being politically correct; it’s about effectiveness. Early in my career as a safety motivational speaker, I asked a client what was the main reason they had chosen me over the other safety speakers they looked at. They said, “Because I knew you wouldn’t get me fired.” Lesson learned:  the message and delivery must always be appropriate for the audience.

© 2017 John Drebinger Presentations. Permission to use granted when credited and contact information included. Phone: 1 209.745.9419