Public speaking – handling international audiences
Imagine this – you have a new public speaking engagement and this time it will be an international conference, in a different country, in a different part of the world. How will this change your public speaking approach? What do you need to take into account? Let me share a few tips that will help you to successfully overcome any potential multicultural differences that may have an impact on your speech delivery:
- Do your research and understand local cultural assumptions – Collect as much information as you possibly can to feel comfortable, but even more importantly – informed!
- Use local references and language – Most of the speakers use salutation in local language, others incorporate local examples into their stories. Irrespective of the examples you choose, make sure you keep your references correct. Don’t confuse the location with another town and check with a local person in advance your pronunciation of the local words.
- Maintain a balance between expressiveness and composure – In some cultures, being expansive may generate the opposite effect than the intended one, so make sure you adapt to your audience; sometimes more composure may be preferred.
- Stick to your bullet points, use simple phrases instead of complex ones – If you have to deliver a public speech in Asia, for example, make sure you use simple sentences and you adapt your speaking pace accordingly. Same applies for any audience whose first language is not the one used to deliver the speech.
- Use gestures – Small or big, illustrative gestures can condiment your speech. However, stay away from gestures that may have a connotation in the local culture that won’t be in your advantage!
- Jokes limited, use humour wisely – if you want to play safe, use self-irony. If you are brave enough, use tested jokes with a generally accepted meaning.
- Work with your translator in advance – If you wrote the speech yourself, than ideally you should have it checked by a local translator in advance to make sure you avoid any misinterpretation.
- Avoid jargon or technical terms – Keep it simple! Too much jargon or technical language will harm any presentation even when it’s delivered in your own country, in your own language.
- They said that if a 12-year-old will understand you, then your speech is perfectly adaptable to any audience – Don’t overcomplicate your speech, metaphors and stories! Clear stories, messages and clear conclusions will help you not to get lost in translation!
International audiences shouldn’t come with too many challenges, really. If you follow these very simple rules, you should be able to shine on any stage of the world!
If you already have a broader experience in this field, I am wondering what other preparation techniques or measures helped you to deliver a successful speech for an audience outside of your country border/culture?