Have you ever asked a question during a presentation you were delivering to an international audience and no one responded? Or perhaps you’ve made a joke when delivering a presentation that no one laughed at? Many people don’t realise how important it is to adapt the way you deliver presentations to people from international backgrounds. Presenting to an international audience effectively requires a unique set of presentation skills and cultural understanding.
Cross-cultural communication skills training programmes like Presenting to an International Audience can be a tremendous help to anyone preparing a presentation for a global group. Training can help you to understand the cultural characteristics which may impact audience expectations when presenting to an international audience, while it will also help you to adapt your style effectively to have the most impact.
Whether following tips on what to avoid during a presentation or increasing your understanding of how to most effectively structure your delivery, it’s important you have the right cultural awareness and international presentation skills for any global delivery.
Humour is one part of cross-cultural communication that can have a really positive effect on a presentation, but it can also go seriously wrong if not used appropriately when presenting to an international audience. In Germany and Japan, for example, people don’t tend to appreciate jokes in presentations as much as they do in the US. In France the style and appearance of the presenter itself are very important and humour does not really play a role in French presentations. In the UK people tend to prefer traditional rather than modern PowerPoint slides and a bit of humour in your presentation can be appreciated.
Choosing your Communication Style
Countries like Germany, Sweden and Switzerland tend to be low context cultures in which people are rule, detail and task oriented so presentations tend to have a clear structure and include lots of information. In high context cultures like Brazil and Italy, communication tends to be less verbally explicit and individuals place a high emphasis on personal face-to-face interactions. When presenting to a high context culture, you should therefore try to use fewer words in your slides and select them carefully.
Managing Different Perceptions of Time
According to Edward T. Hall it is important to establish whether you are going to present in a culture which tends to be more monochronic or polychronic. People in monochronic cultures tend to appreciate punctuality and schedules, and time is considered a scarce resource. When presenting to audiences from monochronic cultures, make sure you start your presentation on time, stick to the structure you have outlined and finish as planned as ’time is money’. Conversely, individuals in polychronic cultures put more emphasis on relationships rather than schedules and they will often make last minute changes or interruptions. Don’t be offended if people ask questions or make remarks during a presentation to a polychronic audience as this is quite normal behaviour.
Anyone delivering presentations to an international audience can greatly benefit from considering the cultural characteristics of the audience they are presenting to. International businesses can also profit immensely from developing the presentation skills of its employees, especially when cross-cultural components of the delivery are taken into consideration. By helping employees to increase their understanding of their international audience, they can more successfully harness the cultural differences in each and every context and have the most impact.
© Communicaid Group Ltd. 2011