Public speaking is considered a skill that could not be easily gained. While there are successful public speakers who were able to master their craft fast, most have to go through rigorous training before they can establish themselves as accomplished speakers. But even training could not ensure anyone becoming an accomplished speaker. Experience is necessary as the tricks of the trade can’t be easily mastered without learning them in an actual public speech. Aside from the research and training you need, you literally have go through awkward situations in various public speeches.
The challenge of public speaking can even increase when your audience comes from various cultural backgrounds, with different native languages. This usually happens in a business setting as you introduce your company to international partners or when there is a business presentation with international clients.
An international audience is particularly challenging since your focus will shift to your audience. Instead of concentrating on your topic, you will greatly consider your audience since some information may not be received as you expect it.
When you focus on your audience, be sure that you are already familiar with your speech. A good speech should be prepared and mastered before adjustments are made because of an international audience. Adjusting to your audience could be very difficult if you haven’t prepared well since some words or actions might offend the audience without knowing it.
Speed and Clarity of Speech
English could be your native language or you’ve been using the language long enough to understand any rate of speech in English. But that experience and knowledge may not be the same as your audience. Everyone attending your speech would be familiar with the language but the command in the language may not be the same. Of course, there would be individuals who have English as their native language.
When speaking to an international audience, say each word with clarity. A moderate rate of speech should be enough to allow others to carefully understand what you say.
The varied cultural backgrounds should also be considered during your speech. In fact, majority of your speech should be filtered mainly because some of the contents of your speech could be offending to some cultures. A cultural reference may sound amusing in some cultures but they can be very offending to others which could cause unfavorable reaction from the audience.
To be safe, remove all cultural references in your speech. A speech with little entertainment is better than a speech that will only entertain a few but offend others.
Your Body Language
Generally, your speech will be done standing up. But that doesn’t mean your actions during your speech will be easily tolerated. Like the cultural references you should avoid doing, certain body movements should be avoided too.
As much as possible limit your movements to walking with limited movement of your hands. If you want to stress a point, your hands can move but without clinching (fists) or pointing. Point with an open-hand if you want the audience to focus on something in your visual aid.
Using Local Language
Addressing the crowd the audience in their local language is one of the best ways to relax your audience. It shows you’ve research enough to know how to speak their language and you’re willing to learn.
But using their local language could easily go wrong if you pretend that you practiced enough to speak some of the phrases. Avoid this awkward situation by limiting the phrases you need to learn. A “hello” and “thank you” should be more than enough to help you connect with your audience.
Keeping it Simple
Of course, you have to be aware that you have an international audience so that you can deliver the speech without offending anyone. But that doesn’t mean you have to tell them about it every minute of your speech. You are not making any cultural references, offensive body language or awkwardly using their language but constantly telling your audience that they have a different culture is awkward if not offending.
In conclusion: keep it simple. Having an international audience is a difficult task. But your speech could be well received if you focus on the message while taking note of the actions and words that might be offensive to your audience.