written by
David Hooper

Profanity and Podcasting

Media Training Mindset 2 min read

When I started RED Podcast, I made the conscious decision not to use any profanity. Why? Because when you use profanity, you automatically lose some people who were previously listening to your message.

That’s it. I'm not trying to make a social stand or "sanitize" what I do, so it's appropriate for kids. I'm simply trying to spread my message to the most people possible.

The topic of profanity in podcasting comes up a lot. And one of the most popular "anti-profanity" resources that's mentioned during discussions on the topic is a blog post by Michael Hyatt called How Much Is Your Profanity Costing You? In this blog post, he shares some great reasons not to use profanity, including the one I mentioned above and the fact that curse words, like any words, lose power when overused.

Here's a related graphic with a quote from this article that's often passed around…

This is bullshit.

Profanity has nothing to do with how interesting you are. Sure, some people rely too heavily on profanity, just like some people rely too heavily on buzz words such as epic, hashtag, YOLO, and “it is what it is." But there are plenty of "interesting" people who can't say three sentences without throwing in an expletive.

What Makes People Interesting

1. Good Listening Skills – People like to talk about themselves. Why? Because it triggers the same feelings of pleasure that we get from food, sex, and money. The more you let people talk about themselves, the more interesting they’ll feel you are.

2. Interest In Other People's Interests – When you're talking to people, talk to them about what they like, not just what you like.

3. Good Stories – In short, when you are talking, don’t be boring. Don’t have "good" stories? Get off the computer and live a bit, man. Seriously.

Curse words are just words. Sometimes they're the right words for the job, sometimes they're not. Let’s not give them any special powers.

Should You Use Profanity In Your Podcast?

The short answer is, "Only if it adds something."

Some topics aren't a match for profanity. And sometimes having "no profanity" as a limitation can actually help your communicate better, since it can force you to look at the words that are available to you and spend more time on your messaging.

Other considerations:

  • Will profanity keep my content from being shared with certain audiences?
  • Will profanity keep my content from being used in certain environments?
  • Will profanity offend my core audience?
  • Will profanity keep me from getting certain clients?
  • Will profanity limit my podcast distribution options?
  • Will profanity affect my public persona or reputation in a negative way?
  • Is using profanity something I might regret in the future?

I'm a firm believer that you need to do the podcast that's a match for who you are as a person. If you can't be "you" without using profanity, use profanity. But if you can do your podcast without profanity, you may have more options available to you than you'd have with it. As podcasters, people are judging us by the words we speak and we need to examine profanity just as much as we'd examine any other words coming out of our mouths.

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