In recent years, academics have become quite interested in swearing. Researchers believe studying our the of obscenities can help them gain insight into everything from how we attract romantic partners to the origin of language itself.
For our purposes, profanity can have at least two useful effects on presenters and their presentations. First, Dr. Richard Stevens of Keele Unvieristy in the UK has found that uttering naughty words readies your body for a challenging situation. In other words, when you curse, your body prepares itself for battle by doing things like increasing your focus and reducing your pain tolerance. A nervous or novice speaker might derive benefit from uttering some unpleasant words prior to taking the stage.
Additionally, Dr. Catherine Caldwell-Harris of Boston University has found that a well-placed obscenity or two in a speech led the audience to see the presenter as more persuasive and passionate. The swearing served as a “wake up call” to any day-dreaming audience members as well as demonstrated the speaker’s conviction on the topic. Clearly, you need to choose you profanity and its deployment wisely. The obscenity should not offend or insult your audience, nor should it seem gratuitous. Cursing that serves to describe the severity of the problem, the scale of the opportunity, or the direness of the situation works best.
Who knew that being foul-mouthed could make you more fearless!? So next time you have a need to give an engaging presentation that induces a little panic, consider dropping a well-placed cuss word prior to speaking and even in your speech itself.