10 Tips for presenting with impact to an international audience
Mindful Presenter has always had an international audience. The global pandemic has however, extended our reach in public speaking and presentation skills training beyond imagination. Less that 2 years ago we were a London, UK, based business with an international audience. Today we are a global virtual business helping professionals all over the world every week.
We are not alone of course. Long before the pandemic, countless people have had to speak in front of an international audience, either in person or virtually. Different languages, cultures, perspectives and beliefs present a challenge for speakers when presenting to an international audience.
Whether you find yourself presenting to an international audience all from the same country or across a wide range of nations, it’s a challenge for even experienced presenters.
The following tips will help you address any international audience with confidence, clarity and impact.
- Go local
Take the time to attain some level of insight and understanding of the cultures you will be presenting to.
– Read travel guides
– Find out what’s going on in the news in those countries
– Go online and check out websites sharing insights into life in those countries
– Reach out to LinkedIn connections ( and others) to speak with people who are familiar with those cultures
- Enunciate mindfully
When you are presenting to an international audience who don’t share the same native language as yours:
– Speak at a slower pace
– Speak as clearly as possible
– Improve your pronunciation
– Emphasise key words by moving your lips a little more than usual
- Avoid colloquialisms
Don’t assume that your international audience will have a clue what your saying if you use language like.
– ‘Think outside the box’ — just ask them to use their imagination and think differently
– ‘Low-hanging fruit’ — just ask them to do what’s easiest or obvious
– ‘Move the needle’ — just ask them to generate a reaction or make a difference
– ‘On the same page’ — just ask them if they agree or see things the same way as you do
- Move mindfully
The way you communicate non-verbally to an international audience needs to be considered in advance:
– Eye contact — many audiences want and expect you to make a level of eye contact. Be aware that when presenting to an international audience the culture may be different. There are certain parts of the world where making eye contact is not recommended; ’10 Places Where Eye-Contact Is Not Recommended.’
– Hand gestures — at mindful presenter we are huge advocates of using our hands to speak. It is important to know that hand gestures don’t always work well across cultures. It’s generally welcomed and positively received in the UK and the United States but can feel distracting and even rude in Japan.
- Easy on the humour
Humour doesn’t always travel and translate well across cultures. What may work in your favour at home could be taken offensively with an international audience you have no experience of addressing.
As you craft your presentation, ask yourself whether you really need to use humour to connect your message with your audience. If you feel it would help, find out exactly what works and what doesn’t .
If you can’t find out or are unclear, avoid using humour.
- Know what to expect
I remember a time presenting to a senior team in Japan. I noticed that the audience frequently nodded their heads slightly up and down. I took this as unanimous support for my message which I later found out wasn’t always the case. For some, it was simply their way to show concentration and understanding but they didn’t necessarily agree with me.
Make it your business to know in advance what to expect from your audience dependent upon the culture.
- Check in with them
Don’t assume that your audience understand everything you share with them. Check in with them from time to time for clarity:
– Is that clear or would you like an example?
– Does that make sense to you?
– How do you feel about that?
– Would you like more information on that point?
- Give them time
As well as speaking clearly and a little more slowly don’t forget to pause, often.
Give your audience a few moments to process your sentences and key points. Give them time to understand and think about what you’ve said; don’t rush them. Don’t feel compelled to speak continuously, pause frequently to allow your audience to keep up with you.
- Where in the world
If you’re presenting to an international audience it’s likely that you will be doing so across multiple time zones.
You may be just about to head for lunch but some of your audience will be just starting or ending their work day. Some may have had to wake up in the middle of the night to participate. Be mindful and respectful of peoples different situations and acknowledge them. Make sure that your presentation starts and finishes on time and keep it short.
- Speak their language
If your international audience all speak the same language it’s worth learning how to say a few basic words in that language.
A good place to start would be ‘hello’, ‘good morning’, ‘good afternoon and ‘thank you.
If you are presenting to an international audience soon and need a little help with these needs:
– Book yourself onto a powerful public speaking course.
– Invest in some really good one to one public speaking coaching.
– Get yourself some excellent presentation training
If this article has inspired you to learn a little more about how effective your presentation skills are you may want to take a look at our presentation training and public speaking coaching pages to see how we may be able to help you. You will also find a great deal of really helpful ‘free’ information in our Learning Centre.
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