In addition, if English is not your first language, you may feel at a disadvantage.
However, you do not need to speak English brilliantly to be an effective communicator. In fact, people who speak English as a second language are more effective at communicating to international audiences, according to a BBC article.
At Benjamin Ball Associates, we have helped thousands of senior executives from Europe, Asia and the Middle East to present more effectively. From our experience, there are five simple rules you can follow to ensure your message is received and understood.
Dale Carnegie, author of How to Make Friends and Influence People, claimed that, “90 per cent of all management problems are caused by miscommunication.”
Effective presenters stick to plain and simple language – words most likely to be in everyone’s vocabulary – when speaking to those who don’t speak English as their first language.
For example, a native French or Arabic speaker is less likely to understand the meaning of “plethora,” so you would be better to use “plenty” or “a lot.”
Avoid jargon, acronyms and cultural idioms, as your audience are less likely to understand them.
Varying your vocabulary throughout your presentation may also confuse a multilingual international audience. For example, avoid talking about ‘benefits’ and then later referring to ‘advantages’.
“Sometimes you need to pause to let everything sink in,” according to German racing driver Sebastian Vettel. Even a four-time Formula 1 world champion needs to slow down occasionally. Presenting in English to multilingual audiences is no different.
Pausing regularly gives you extra time to prepare your next sentence, and allows the audience time to absorb what you just said.
Effective speakers strive to put the same care and attention into their pauses as they do their overall message.
How can you use pauses when presenting to multilingual audiences?:
Have you ever walked away from an important meeting or presentation unsure about the meeting’s topic, its purpose, or your actions?
Regularly summarising throughout your presentation will prevent your audience from leaving with these frustrating – and potentially damaging – outcomes.
The benefits of inserting regular summaries into your presentation:
You could also try splitting the presentations into clearly defined topics, or holding regular question and answer sessions. Both tactics help to consolidate everyone’s understanding.
Boxer Muhammad Ali once said, “It’s the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief. And once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen.”
Keeping your presentation structure simple will also make your content much more easily digested.
An executive was delivering speech in a foreign country through an interpreter. Without warning the interpreter beforehand, he inserted a joke into the presentation.
The interpreter knew the joke would not translate and knew of no equivalent to substitute in its place. So she said, “This man just told a joke that he thinks is funny, but it does not translate well, and you will not find it funny at all. So, when I stop talking, everyone please just laugh.”
The audience did indeed roar with laughter, but not for the reason the speaker supposed.
Telling stories, like the one above, works across language and cultures and brings your subject to life.
The power of storytelling is timeless, transcending industries and technology.
Just ask Hollywood director James Cameron who said, “I don’t use film cameras… it’s all Computer Generated now… It’s a completely different toolset. But the rules of storytelling are the same.”
So, is there a short anecdote relevant to your topic that you could use to open your presentation? If you can, use a local or topical angle for your anecdote. The audience will then know that you have tailored your talk for them.
“Sadly, in the next 18 minutes when I do our chat, four Americans that are alive will be dead from the food that they eat.” Jamie Oliver uses the very first line of his TED speech on food ignorance to shock his audience and immediately hook their attention.
Audiences form their overall impression of you and your message within the first minute or two. So, instead of simply introducing yourself or thanking the audience for attending, you could try one of the following tried and tested openers:
Leave the housekeeping, introductions or pleasantries to the person who welcomes you to the front of the room.
If you need to cover some low impact but essential content – or if you won’t be introduced by anyone – it’s still important to begin with a high impact start. You can then loop back to the housekeeping, introductions or pleasantries once you have successfully engaged your audience.
We all verbalise and construct sentences in completely different ways. Our thinking patterns and perceptions vary. The potential for miscommunication is huge.
But, if you apply these five essentials for delivering presentations to multilingual audiences and international audiences, you will connect with every member of your audience – without your message getting lost in translation.
Download our free ebook: Five Steps to Transform your Leadership Talks. It’s full of practical tips and insightful quotes that will help you make immediate improvements to your communication skills, including:
Benjamin Ball Associates helps clients to communicate better.
Over the years the BBA team has coached thousands of senior executives globally to present themselves in English. You get access to a transformational toolbox of techniques to help you become a clear, confident communicator.
We’ll help you create a powerful first impression that hooks and engages your audience immediately and we’ll transform you to deliver clearly, confidently and with impact.
Speak to Louise on +44 20 7018 0922 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more and discuss your upcoming speech or presentation.
Your Essential Guide to Fundraising Presentations. Are you looking forward to challenging questions from investors, long days and multiple meetings?...
Five ways to create the best investor presentation If you want investment, you need the best investor presentation. But investment...
Do your leadership public speaking skills inspire, motivate and influence others? They should. Many leaders are nervous of public speaking....
A great investor pitch book is at the heart of successful fundraising. You use it to capture the essence of...
Better Body Language We all know that body language is important in business. But how important? And does is really...
Five Top Fundraising Tips At SuperReturn Emerging Markets in Amsterdam, experienced LPs and advisors shared their private equity fundraising tips...
A great elevator pitch is an essential part of your pitch toolkit Last month I chaired the Quickfire Showcase elevator...
You must prepare for media interviews The excruciating Newsnight interview with Treasury Minister Chloe Smith this summer is one example of...
How do you write well for business? Could you be more impressive with better writing? These days, we are writing...
How to answer difficult investor questions When an investor questions how you calculated your Private Equity fund's performance, how do...
How do you choose a public speaking coach? When selecting a public speaking coach or presentation trainer, you want to work...
How To Use Powerful Language For Leadership Communications Great leaders use Power Language. It adds interest and colour to...
So What? is probably your most important question. When you put your talk or presentation together, how do you decide what...
What do LPs want from private equity funds at first investor meetings? That's the question I put to the panel...
What do investors really want? Six tips We wrote this piece with our Private Equity clients in mind. But there...
Do you want to give high impact talks and presentations? Do you want to engage your audience? And do you want...
How do you use storytelling in business ? Leaders use storytelling so that audiences listen, remember and act on what...
How do you make your investment pitch more memorable? It's a real challenge these days. Investors have more opportunities than...
Your leadership talks need to be effective As a leader, every talk or presentation you give is an exercise in...
A well-crafted private equity pitch book can make the difference between securing a first meeting with investors and getting a...
Client Services Director
+44 (0)20 7018 0922