Even if you don't travel for business you ay find yourself presenting to people from another country or culture, right in your own office. These tips may help you get your message across, even if you don't speak the same language.
Tips for presenting to
Today, nearly every business is “international”.
Even if you don’t travel for work, you will probably
encounter people from other countries or other
cultures, right in your own office.
It’s a small world…
The following tips should help you prepare and
deliver your presentation, webinar, or speech, to
an international audience, and make sure your
message is received.
How can we get our message
across, even when we don’t
speak the same language?
1 – Start with the Basics
A Good Presentation that is
Well Organized and is
Clear and Concise is a great starting point.
A poorly organized presentation that doesn’t flow well won’t
get better just because you “Internationalize” it.
2 – Pay Attention
Try to learn about your audience before your
• Talk to your host or organizer to find out if they
have specific goals or needs from your presentation
• How well do they understand your language?
If you can’t get information before you start, try asking
questions during your introduction to learn what you can
2 – Pay Attention
Watch their reactions and body language
If they seem to be having trouble understanding,
slow down, review, ask questions to be sure they are
Don’t be afraid to stop, or back up
Remember: Your goal is to convey a message
– not just get through a presentation
3 – Be careful about jargon, slang,
and sports and cultural references
If your presentation is filled with
references to sports, or politics, or
your local current events, you may
spend more time explaining the
references than making the point
they were meant to express
Depending on what part of the world you are
from, the game we call “Football” may be very
4 – Too many TLAs
Every industry has them, and nearly every
presentation uses them, but if you don’t explain
them, your international audience may get bogged
down trying to understand your Acronyms
They can be confusing
If you must use them, be sure to explain them
TLA: Three Letter Acronym (sometimes four or more)
5- Brief bullet points vs. long,
• Be sure to use words on your slide – it will help
your audience understand – but keep it short and
Once upon a time there was a dog. He was a lazy dog, brown in color. He liked to sleep all day. His favorite spot was next to a fallen
tree, deep in the forest. He could spend hours there, snoring away, completely oblivious to the rest of the world.
On this particular day there was a hunt taking place in the neighboring farms and forests. “Oh my”, thought the dog. “I really don’t
want to be bothered with that.” So he went back to sleep.
After some time there was a ruckus nearby, and the sound of horses, and hounds, and hunting horns. The dog continued to
Suddenly a fox came crashing through the nearby bushes. He was a beautiful red color, with a thick bushy tail. He was obviously in
a great hurry. As he rushed to escape the hunters he spotted a large log, lying on the ground, with a perfect hiding spot in the
brush just beyond.
He leapt over the log and zipped into the cover of the brush. In his haste he didn’t even notice the lazy brown dog, sleeping next to
the log. And the dog continued to snooze, completely unaware of the excitement around him.
The quick red fox jumped over the lazy brown dog.
Red fox jumps sleeping dog
6 – Use Pictures – if appropriate
• “A picture is worth 1000 words” but only if it is
relevant to your message.
• Don’t use drawings, clipart, or photographs just
to make your presentation look good.
• But a diagram or image can really help your
audience understand, more than several
sentences on a slide.
7 – Notes and handouts
Trying to read your slides, listen to you speak, and
translate it, all at the same time, can be difficult
Handouts are very helpful, especially if you have a
lot of detail
Provide notes so they can refer to them later
Consider electronic versions if the environment
and subject allows
8 – Working with translators
If you and your audience do not speak the same language, you may need an interpreter.
That may be a local colleague, someone from your audience, or perhaps even a
They will probably not be an expert in your field – to help them help you, here are a few
Go over your presentation with the translator beforehand –
especially technical terminology and acronyms.
Provide a list of key points, words or phrases that may
require clarification from you. Remember those TLAs!
Write a script for the translator ahead of time, or include
notes in PowerPoint.
Speak clearly and slowly.
It is especially important when you are being translated.
1. Start with a good presentation or speech
2. Pay attention to your audience
3. Be careful with local/sports/political or cultural
4. Explain your acronyms and industry-specific
5. Use clear, concise bullets…
6. … and images if they enhance the message
7. Provide handouts if the venue is appropriate
8. Work with your translator. They are there to help you.
Have fun with it.