I was recently asked this question by a client I am coaching to be a powerful panelist: “I have been known to swear…can I use profanity during a panel discussion?”
Years ago, I would categorically say “no.” Nowadays, times have changed and the answer is not so clear. Of course, you can, but the real question is should you use profanity during a panel discussion?
First, I would ask the meeting organizer and/or panel moderator their opinion. They have a better sense of their client’s threshold for this type of behavior.
Next, I would consider the audience. Are they prone to drop a few expletives into their normal conversational language? Is it an accepted practice or would it be out of the normal speech cadence?
Also, consider your brand. Media Mogul Gary Vaynerchuk is well known for his liberal use of swear words. And if he didn’t swear, well then, that would be “off-brand” for Gary. But even Gary has a clause in his speaking contract where a client can request no profanity!
Finally, if it also adds to your message, then it’s probably okay. If you are just using profanity on a panel discussion because you can, then I’d reconsider!
For more information about how to moderate a lively & informative leadership panel discussion, check out our free 7-part video series on how to moderate a panel and other resources to help you organize, moderate, or be a panel member.