Two colleagues, Rushika and Samaira, set off on the journey to represent their company in two different countries. Samaira went to Japan, whereas Rushika proceeded to England. Before getting off the ground, they thoroughly researched the business cultures in the respective countries.
Samaira realized that stories have to be an integral part of her presentation. She has to be extra careful while making jokes if she decides to add humour at all since the Japanese are not very comfortable with jokes in a formal setting. Post-presentation material always earns respect from them. While handing out anything, it has to be given using both hands as a sign of respect. They are high on facts and data; she had to double-check her stats.
On the other hand, Rushika relied heavily on sarcastic humour to make her presentation engrossing. Prior to the presentation, she provided an agenda so that the audience knows what to expect. She also used some very common British phrases while speaking as the British are very particular about the use of language.
Given the method of preparation, both Samaira and Rushika aced their presentations. Now imagine if they exchanged positions. The presentations would have ended in disaster, isn’t it? This tells us how important it is to customize the presentation for the audience. Global presentations are quite different from the regular ones that you give in front of the company stakeholders or fellow employees. Here are some valuable global audience presentation tips that will save the day.
Figure out some appropriate icebreakers
When you meet new people, there is always an awkward tension between you and them. If you manage to get them comfortable in the very beginning, you win. To shake off the awkwardness, try the following global audience presentation tips icebreakers:
Greet them in their language:
One of the best ways to connect with a foreign audience is to greet them in their native language. Make sure to pronounce the words right. Use the correct gestures along with the words. For instance, bowing in Japan and joining hands in India is part of the greeting tradition.
Ask a question:
You can start by asking a question like, “Do you think robots will take over the earth one day?” Get them to think and you will feel at ease with them. Or you could rather ask a rhetorical question like, “How do you expect to succeed in life with your current lifestyle?”
Make a funny statement:
Make a funny statement:
Now, this could be a little tricky to pull off. First, everyone’s perception of comedy is different. Second, you risk making derogatory remarks. Third, not everyone finds humour professional. If you want to use humour as a weapon anyway, confirm from a resident if it is fine to say such a statement or not. Go for the safe humour –“Why is the weather so cool today? Is it because I am here?”
Get your presentation translated
If you are going to one of the non-English speaking countries, translating your presentation in their native language is advisable. You can provide the subtitles on the slides. Prepare yourself in a way that if a translator needs to interrupt you during the speech, you don’t get baffled and ruin everything. Keep the tempo of your speech moderate. If you speak too fast, the translator won’t be able to match the pace. If you speak too slowly, a lot of time would be wasted and the audience will be bummed out.
Acquaint yourself with their culture
To avoid the embarrassment of saying or doing something offensive, you need some knowledge about their culture, values and customs. Let’s divide the audience into two types and see how to handle both of them:
- The homogenous audience consisting of people from the same cultural background
In the case of Samaira and Rushika, both knew that the majority of their audience would be of the same ethnicity. It is easy to deal with a homogenous audience for several reasons. You can get yourself to assimilate by learning what triggers them or pleases them. If your native language is the same as theirs, you can even adjust your accent in a way that makes understanding easier. (An American while catering to Australian audiences might use an Australian accent and vice-versa). To give you an idea, Cambodia is a collective society. If you make your point by expressing collective concern for the community, you can easily get them on board with you.
- The heterogeneous audience comprising a mixed culture
There is only so much that you can learn about varied cultures. But there are certain things which are revered in every culture such as humility, punctuality, politeness, smiling face and so on. Human beings are driven by emotion. So no matter the class, creed, ethnicity or race, it is possible to talk to them through emotional expression. Other than that, you can inculcate the following methods of nonverbal communication as global audience presentation tips:
- Make consistent eye contact with everyone
- Move across the stage and among the audience if you can. But do not invade anybody’s personal space as it is considered rude in some societies.
- Use dramatic tone while speaking. The pitch, the quality, and the clarity of your voice make a measurable impact.
- Make use of gestures to demonstrate something.
- Emphasize the important details. Repeat significant sentences.
To be formal, or not to be, that is the question!
These days, wearing a black formal suit to the meetings and conferences is a new trend. But is it accepted globally? In some cultures, a black suit with a white shirt and black tie is worn at funerals. In some nations, women wearing knee-length skirts are looked down upon. Thus, dressing modestly in a culture-appropriate manner is vital. Remember how Steve Jobs used to make a statement with turtle-neck shirts? His casual appearance was one thing that elevated his personality considerably. Find your signature style and wear it confidently. No matter if you wear formal or informal; as long as you don’t show too much skin, keep accessories minimal and wear a nicely fit outfit, you are good to go.
The above global audience presentation tips are convenient and handy. It is never easy to express yourself in cross-cultural encounters. With a fitting amount of faith and practice, you can muster up enough courage to strike a chord with the audience.