Language Lessons from the Social Media Conference

As a young girl, I had a personality flaw.
I was very stubborn.
If I didn’t get my way, I would accuse my Mother of various things. “You don’t understand…I really want to go to this party!” “You are so unfair.”  Sometimes, a scatological comment would leak out of my mouth.  Mom would always respond with “Watch Your Language!”

Yesterday I wish I had channeled Mom.

I am attending a social media conference in my home state (Oregon).  The keynote presenter, a noted commercial artist who was once lionized for his feature article about Hitler in Esquire Magazine, kicked off the session.

He proceeded to describe the various (and often infamous) ad campaigns he managed for Nike.  Then the bombs started exploding.

Within a 90 minute presentation, he swore 12 times. Yes, 12 words beginning with the letter “f.”  He was so proud of his presentation that he chose to add those words to his Flash presentation.

The audience was very quiet and polite and chose not to ask any questions at the conclusion of his talk.
While I sat with other attendees this morning, several women approached me and, unsolicited, offered their dissatisfaction with his presentation. The conference organizer told me that he was most concerned that this presenter represented his brand, and he wanted nothing to do with it.

As a leader, what are you doing to protect yourself from these scatological mishaps?
Do you tolerate them, or do you stop them in their tracks?

Don’t let your childhood tantrums drive your meetings. They may just leave your community feeling frustrated and insulted. I know that’s what happened at this social media conference.

My mentor Alan Weiss reminds us that “language controls the discussion, discussion controls the relationship, and relationships control the business.” Who’s controlling your company’s language?

Email me your thoughts on this.


Copyright 2010, Lisa Nirell.  All rights reserved.

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