Guide Giving presentations: with focus on international audiences

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You can increase your impact when the pitch is logically structured, for example by using oral bullet points. Make use of graphics where possible, especially if Asians are in the audience, they understand pictures better than our letters. One more tip: when pitching to a mixed audience you should be careful with humor. Something that is funny in one culture can be confusing—or even worse, offending,—in another culture. So save your jokes for after, when drinking beer in a pub with your friends, celebrating a successful pitch.

Content is one thing, but the way you are presenting is just as important. These examples will help you leave a great impression with your audience. When presenting for the French and Germans, dress formally. In order for them to listen to you, they have to take you seriously at first sight.

Benefits of Attendance

Practical experience is more appreciated than formal titles or sleek looks. Besides your appearance, think about your body language. Are you a person who uses hand gestures a lot when presenting? Some cultures will appreciate it to see the expression of emotion through body language. Other cultures might expect the speaker to remain calm and would find such behavior irritating. In addition, think about what kind of gestures you use. A thumbs-up may in general be a sign of approval or agreement, while it is considered an insult in some countries.

How to Give a Killer Presentation

As you can see, there are many things to think about when pitching to an international group. In any case, be aware of your audience and what you expect from them. Good luck pitching! Brigitte Opel has been trainer for cross-cultural management since After her studies at Thunderbird School of International Management and a career as international project manager at IBM, she decided to use her experience in combination with the Hofstede model on National Cultures to consult multinational teams to improve their communication and results. This might be a bad idea when trying to convince them of your argument.

However, make sure to only eat with your right hand, never with your left! Avoid staring into the distance. Your smile will reassure your international audience that you know what you are talking about. It may state a problem or a need followed by a solution. Support your views by facts and logical reasoning. You can illustrate your point by telling a small anecdote. Be sure though, that non-native English speakers will understand your story. Persuade the audience by telling them what may happen if your suggested solution is not accepted.

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Convince them that what you propose now will truly benefit everyone in the organization. Inspire by using words that sell e. The cultural angle: How do you present your content? How many facts and figures do you bring in? The Germans like figures. The French like a logical discourse.

How not to blow it when presenting to an international audience - Rockstart

The Indians need lots of detail. The Americans like a pep talk. The Dutch will ask lots of questions. How much emotion do you use in your non-verbal communication? Your facial expression and your body should reflect your enthusiasm for your message adapted to various culturesIn southern European countries, many post USSR countries, Greece and a number of Middle Eastern and African countries, the audience will get inspired by strong non-verbal communication and strong vocal variety. Express your happiness, anger, anxiousness, and relaxation in your face.

Your body and hands can back up the emotion expressed on your face. In many Southeast Asian countries usually only, little emotion is shown.

How to Engage an Audience in a Presentation

Your body should be serene, with your arms close to your body. Give special attention to pauses so listeners can reflect on what you say.

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Expression is also demonstrated through intonation, which indicates the importance of your words. You should focus on vocal variety without much emotion. Make a summary of your ideas and energize your audience by suggesting a number of actions to be taken within a time frame. I have a Dutch colleague who is a highly successful trainer. It is a real cultural taboo! On the other hand, I had an opposite experience in Germany!

I was teaching a leadership program to a group of senior executives from Europe, Asia and North America. Most of my clients are successful leaders in their organizations.

They have strong technical skills, extensive business experiences, and more often than not, they are good communicators. However, when they have to make a presentation to a global audience they run into all sorts of problems! Why is this? I often tell the story of an Indian client of mine who works for a major global telecommunications company headquartered in the US. He is a newly promoted director of Technical Support, based in India, and his American boss and other senior leaders were flying in to hear about progress of an important customer initiative.

My client explained in some detail what he had achieved, his strategic thinking and the success it had created. Already at risk of losing a western audience more comfortable with shorter, sharper presentations with less background , he was so keen to impress his seniors and reassure them he was doing a good job for them that he forgot to mention his team. This is typical of a high-context style presentation: going at length through the background, the history and the reasoning to eventually arrive at the solution that has been achieved.

Unfortunately this generally loses western audiences who like their presentations to get quickly to the point. Low context cultures on the other hand provide their information almost entirely through their words, tending to screen out non-verbal cues.


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The message is direct and explicit and the responsibility for understanding lies firmly with the speaker. Low context countries are typically westernized ones — the UK, Germany and the US — with the Swiss and Dutch perhaps amongst the most extreme nations in this regard. Sometimes this culture clash can be found working against members of the audience in a presentation.