Another Handful of Tips 85R -Speaking to a Foreign Audience

Another Handful of Tips 85 R -Speaking to a Foreign Audience

Five of the best tips when making a presentation to foreigners when English is not their main language

Thorough preparation is essential when making a speech or presentation to foreigners. You must be adaptable and be flexible and not too formal. 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 when speaking at home.)

Here are the five best tips:

1. Use basic English

Most English speakers talk too fast so speak slowly and keep your sentences short. Use simple words.

Do not use jargon, slang or clichés. They will not be understood.

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 message.  Spend time chatting and tell them what you admire about their country.

This is one time when you give your handout and copies of your slides at the start of your presentation so they can follow your message.

3. Select jokes and anecdotes with care

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

It is wise to dress well as this is what will be expected.

Be careful with your gestures. Seek advice from a local as many of your normal gestures can be easily misinterpreted and can upset some people.

5. Make your message clear

Be positive and give clear recommendations. Use simple visual aids and always try to 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.

-Geoffrey Moss

“Leave unmentioned what your audience already knows – tell them something new.”

Source: “Persuasive Ways. ‘Tricks of the trade’ to get your ideas across”. First published by Moss Associates Ltd., New Zealand and in Chinese by the Shanghai People’s Publishing House, the Singapore Institute of Management, Kogan Page Ltd, U.K and in Hungarian by Bagolyvar Konyvkiado.

Also published as the “Secrets of Persuasion” by Cengage Learning Asia and as an e-book and sold by


Secrets of Persuasion CoverPersuasive Ways (China) CoverPersuasive Ways Cover


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