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How to make sure your international presentation hits the mark
Delivering an important presentation can be a challenging and often nerve-wracking experience whether at home or away. You might think that giving an excellent presentation requires universal skills and that the same approach will work in any context. Presentations may look similar across the world, but a good presenter is always aware of the subtle differences in styles and preferences. Ignoring cultural nuances in audience expectations and delivery styles can mean your presentation won’t hit the spot and your audience will be left disappointed.
Here are seven pointers to make sure your international presentation hits the mark:
In an international context, it can be difficult to know how well your audience speaks English. Try to have a few words with people as they arrive in the room to gauge their level and keep your language short, clear and simple during the presentation so that everyone understands. Avoid using idiomatic or colloquial language and steer away from cultural references that will be lost on people who don’t share your background.
2. Body language
In some cultures presenters move a lot and use more gestures and facial expression. Presenters in other cultures are calmer and more static. Without coming across as unnatural try to adapt your body language to fit in with cultural expectations.
Do you have a state of the art laptop? Bear in mind that it may not work in the country where you’re presenting. Different cultures have different expectations of how you present your visual material and this is often reflected in the technology available. Before you present, check what is available. You may need to do that fantastic power point presentation on a flip chart.
In some cultures, audiences tend to prefer a short, simple introduction before focusing on business matters. Others expect detailed background so that they can understand the context of the presentation. And in some cultures, the credibility of the presenter is as important as the presentation.
Find out who is coming to your presentation and what their expectations are. Should you prepare a short, clear introduction, start with the background or give a detailed overview of your credentials?
How detailed do you need to be? Some audiences will expect presentations to be very detailed while others prefer a big picture overview and a focus on results. Before you prepare your presentation find out about your audience and whether they expect you to explain detailed processes and data or focus more on outcomes.
6. Long term or short term focus
Does your audience have a focus on the long or the short term? If they have a long term focus, try to include detailed projections for the next five or ten years. If they think more short term, try to show immediate results.
How much passion and personality should you show in your presentation? In some cultures, audiences buy into the speaker first and then the idea. You need to show them how passionate and motivated you are before they even start listening to your idea. In other cultures, a more serious approach is needed and you should prepare in detail, keep your opinions neutral and let your content do the talking.
If you are presenting to an international audience you need to do your research; not only about your topic but also about your audience. If you are able to get inside their heads and think about what they expect from your presentation and from you as the presenter then you are more likely to ensure that you really hit the mark.