A Handful of Tips 25 —
Five of the best tips when speaking to a foreign audience
When making a speech or presentation in countries where English is not the main language, thorough preparation is essential. You must be adaptable and flexible and remember a smile is a universal form of communication.
If you are speaking through a translator be prepared to use about half the material you would normally cover in the same time.
1. Use basic English
Speak slowly and keep your sentences short.
Do not use jargon, slang or clichés.
Avoid metaphors as these can be confusing and keep your puns for people whose mother tongue is English.
2. Establish a rapport
Allow time for people to get used to your voice and accent before you start on your serious presentation. Spend time chatting and tell your audience if you are going to give handouts and copies of your slides at the finish.
3. Select jokes and anecdotes carefully
Humour is unique to the experience and culture of your audience. If you decide you need to tell jokes get local advice to see if your humour is acceptable and would be understood and appreciated.
Avoid anecdotes you tell against yourself because these could discredit you in the eyes of many audiences.
4. Conform to local customs
In some countries you could encounter a more formal atmosphere than at home so dress accordingly.
Be careful with your gestures. Seek advice from a local as many of your normal gestures can be easily misinterpreted.
5. Make your message clear
Be positive with your advice. Use simple clear visual aids and give handouts.
Reinforce your message. Try the three-fold approach. Tell your audience what you are going to tell them. Tell them. Then tell them what you have told them.
“Be careful when you give advice. Changing people’s customs is a more delicate operation than surgery.”
Source: “Persuasive Ways” and “Secrets of Persuasion”.