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Tips for overseas presentations


Has anyone got any tips or training material on things to do/not do when making presentations to overseas audiences i.e cultural differences. This is for an advanced presentations skills course
Judi Geisler

5 Responses

  1. Be careful about humour
    The one area that seems to get people into more trouble than any other is in the use of humour. We let our cultural assumptions show through when we make jokes, so you need to be extra careful there. Britons especially, have a reputation for ascerbic and self-deprecating humour, that is quite shocking to some nationalities.

    And always, always have a trusted local person vet a presentation before you do it in front of the intended audience. Remember how President Kennedy called himself a berliner doughnut, because he didn’t bother to have his four word sentence checked by a real Berliner?

    I also give classes to business people being reassigned to foreign offices. I’d be interested in hearing how your course goes.

    Good Luck!

  2. Passive Audiences
    A tip which I picked up…just in time too…when I delivered a presentation in Singapore. Don’t expect a Far Eastern audience to get too involved! I had a range of interactive sessions planned, but my contact out there warned that nobody would dare speak up, as it would be seen to be challenging the authority of the speaker. Apparently, they prefer to be told what they need to know and do! So some hasty re-writing later, I delivered a long presentation to a large group of over 180! It went down well, even though it tired me out!

    On the point about using humour, I have to omit that some of the old jokes crept in. Some of the local audience laughed, but I depended on the Europeans in the audience to laugh the loudest!

  3. Cultural information

    I have found the Babel Language and Cultural consultants very helpful. They do a free email newsletter every month and have sent me back issues sometimes when I have been looking for a specific country. Here is their email:
    [email protected]
    Hope this helps!

  4. Not true ( South East Asian Context )
    Hi ,
    First of all , it all depends our your target audience and which dominant culture is there . And another point of consideration is the language and slang . Sometimes it is not because the audience are so serious that they cannot take any jokes , but can they understand the joke in familiar context and through the slang used? Do keep the session energetic and interesting . Do a bit work first , maybe try some ‘ test jokes’ on samples and see their responses if you are not sure. We respect the speakers responsibility in delivering the speech as well not to take up the other audiences time by interrupting. But should your prefer a partipative crowd , create the mood and expectations. I have done this and seen many suceeded in coercing the audience to speak out.

    What is dominant culture ? Depending on the demography of the audience , there may be variances even if the audience is of the same ethnic . For example , an audience of Chinese ethnicity but working for a Japanese company differs from the one who worked for an American company.

    But i agree that the participants would be less expressive . Key here is to give them the option to a Q&A at the end of your session . But the bulk of approaches will only happen at the end of your official Q&A . Here , they may take the opportunity to network with you ( and others around ) in appreciation of your personal attention .Hope this helps.


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