During my keynote presentation last week at the Inbound Marketing Summit I referred to another speaker as “the hippo lady.” The reaction from many in the audience was swift and unforgiving.
— Adam O’Donnell (@adamodonnell) October 16, 2013
OK, here’s a bit more context. During my talk I referenced an interesting comment offered earlier in the day by Sonja Wraith, who is the marketing lead at a content management system (CMS) vendor called Hippo.
Sonja’s presentation included an extensive discussion of their corporate brand and how it serves as a point of differentiation for Hippo from competitive CMS providers. I was unable to recall Sonja’s name at the time of my speech, so out spilled the dreaded “hippo lady” phrase.
Admittedly, I cannot feign complete innocence for this gaffe as I also aimed for a laugh from the audience. I subscribe to the “3Es” when preparing remarks for an industry conference – engage, educate and entertain.
Humor is engaging and entertaining, so I often pepper my presentations with funny (and topically relevant) anecdotes. Here’s an example from a marketing conference in San Francisco where I spoke during the summer.
I’ve now had time to reflect on the hippo lady remark and concluded there is simply no place in a professional environment for something that can potentially be perceived as a personal slight.
I have included below video of my presentation at the Inbound Marketing Summit. Thankfully, Strategic Communications Group’s (Strategic) marketing lead edited out the inappropriate remark.
As the anchor man Ron Burgundy advised, “Stay classy, San Diego.”