Intercultural Presentations

There are certain things that have to be kept in mind when giving presentations in a foreign country or to an audience from a different culture. Why? Because not all cultures give presentations in the same way and not all cultures expect the same things from presentations. It is therefore important for today’s international business person to be aware of the intercultural dynamics involved when presenting.

First and foremost, you should be aware of your body language. It needs to be appropriate for the culture. In some cultures, people are very expressive and straightforward while in others they are quite reserved. Take note of the cultural expectations in the location and mould your presentation style accordingly.

You should and keep your language and way of communication simple so that it can be understood easily. Avoid strong accents, idioms, sayings, jokes and industry slang. These can all confuse rather than convince.

If using an interpreter, one must be familiar with the methodology of doing so. The interpreter should be a professional that can easily both understand what you are saying and relay this in as short a time as possible.

If you bring along handouts with you it can make it easier for the audience to understand what you are trying to say. This is especially true when giving presentations to an audience of non-native English speakers. A lot of the time their reading comprehension will be superior to their listening comprehension.

Before your presentation, confirm if there is the possibility of a question and answer session. Some places do not do this as a norm while others expect it. So bear in mind if you ask the audience for questions and you are met with silence, don’t take it to heart.

A public display of your feelings and emotions should be avoided in most cultures. Although some may like to see a bit of spirit in their presenter it is best to err on the side of caution.

A basic tip for anyone travelling abroad for a presentation is to find out as much information as you can about the culture of the country or place you are going to.