Speaking to Global Audiences

As speaking professionals we recognize how important it is to understand our audience and to customize our message to the groups we are speaking to. When presenting abroad or here in the United States, it is key that we have an awareness of the non-native speaker of English and prepare our speeches accordingly. Here are a few simple steps we can take to maximize the impact our presentations have with global audiences.

Intercultural Communication Issues

TIME ISSUES: It is not unusual for speakers to want to include a lot of information in their speeches. This can be very problematic when speaking globally. Listening to a speech in a second language can be very tiring, so the shorter and more direct your presentation is the better. When conducting seminars allow plenty of time for covering each section of your program and for questions. Give participants time to “recharge” with adequate breaks.

VISUALS: The use of visuals is always important. Remember to include pictures and diagrams to help you present your message. These diagrams can help your audience follow your talk particularly if the visuals are clear and not too cluttered.

LANGUAGE: Try not to use jokes because humor can be very place specific and may not travel well. The same goes for idioms and slang. It may be useful for you to tape yourself before giving your presentation to “weed out” your use of idioms and slang. This language can be very confusing to your global audience. Americans tend to drop word endings particularly final consonants, which can make what you are saying difficult for your audience to follow. Another common problem when speaking to global audiences is speaking too quickly. We really need to remember to slow our rate of speech down.

OBSERVE YOUR AUDIENCE: It is key to observe your audience when giving your presentation. Don’t be impatient, and be willing to adjust your delivery based on audience reaction. Your audience will appreciate the effort you took to customize your keynote presentation.

By following these four simple steps you will notice that your audiences have more energy and will be understanding your message much better. This will definitely be worth the changes made.

Reprinted from Liberty Bell Newsletter. A Publication of the Liberty Bell Speakers Association, a Chapter of the National Speakers Association.