Presentations To Culturally Diverse Audiences

Public Speaking Skills

Audiences around the world are all different.

Cultural, social and religious differences impact on how people learn, take in information and interact with presenters.

After delivering 3 presentations to 1,200 Managers and Franchisees from the largest fast-food company in the Philippines, these are my thoughts on how to make an impact with culturally diverse audiences.

This is the result of extensive feedback and practical knowledge of what works and what doesn't after delivering business presentations throughout Asia.

Here are 10 Tips on Delivering Better Business Presentations to Asian Audiences

1. Do Your Research

Find out as much as you can about the country and organisation you are working with.

Read guidebooks, travel magazines, search the Internet and use the local media to gain as much knowledge as you can about the cultural background and history of the people you are working with.

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2. Use Local Language

Use local language and key phrases as an icebreaker, welcome or to highlight important points.

Modify the content of your presentation to account for local differences.

For example, in my work in the Philippines, I used a range of local 'Tagalog' (one of the two official languages) words in both my welcome and presentation to make points and this went down really well.

Former US President JFK used "Ich bin ein Berliner" to great effect in Germany during one of his speeches.

3. Use Local Examples

Nothing goes down better when trying to explain a new concept than using a local example.

This will make your presentation more relevant.

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4. Get to Know the Audience

It is most likely you will be a foreigner and many in the audience may not know you very well at all.

Meet as many people personally before the presentation as possible.

When presenting let the audience warm up to you before throwing questions at them.

I've noticed light-hearted bantering with the audience at the beginning of a presentation works well.

5. Speak Slowly and Clearly

For many Asians, English is not their first language.

Speak with less of an accent and present more slowly than you would with an Australian audience.

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6. Use of Visual Aids

Again, because of language barriers back-up your verbal message with clear and easy to understand visual aids.

7. Use Humour

This tried and true method works across cultural boundaries.

Use universal humour and avoid material that is country-specific and not relevant.

Never ever use inappropriate humour in any situation.

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8. Physically Involve the Audience

Most audiences, no matter what cultural background, tend to switch off after 20 minutes of information from the presenter.

Use a physical activity or interaction to keep the audience awake and alert.

One word of warning though, don't try this at the beginning when they haven't got to know you.

9. Cut Out Some Content

You will be speaking more slowly and spending time getting to know the audience and interacting with them.

This will take time and you will need to cut out some content.

Otherwise, the presentation will be rushed. I find with most presenters, nearly all put too much content in their presentations.

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10. Evaluate, Review and Continually Improve

I never stop learning.

Every time I speak in front of an audience, I always learn something new.

Presenting to audiences outside of your comfort zone is always a challenge.

Be prepared to learn, improve and be a better presenter.

The following article was contributed by Thomas Murrell.

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