Suppose you are asked to give a presentation to a foreign audience comprised of fellow employees. You’ve given the presentation dozens of time, always essentially the same, but this time it’s different. As you begin speaking, you notice blank stares, wandering eyes and other signs that suggest bewilderment and confusion. You wonder to yourself, “What is happening?”
Language and Accent
One possibility is that the foreign audience does not understand either your language or your accent. With today’s international business climate, many organizations have employees spread throughout the world who speak many languages and dialects. Given the mobile and international nature of today’s workforce, non-native English speakers are increasingly likely to comprise your audience. Thus you must accommodate their language needs sometimes this requires the aid of an interpreter or a certified translation worker who can translate your materials.
Slang, Idioms, and Colloquialisms
When presenting to international audiences, make a special effort to avoid slang, idioms, and colloquialisms in your presentation. Unfortunately, these speech patterns are so ingrained into our language that we frequently use them without thinking. To address this problem, consciously review common slang, idioms, and colloquialisms to identify the ones you use and then remove them from your presentation. At the same time, carefully review your content to remove acronyms and jargon that your audience may not understand.
Regardless of the language your audience understands, an audience may still have problems understanding you. For example, American audiences often experience difficulties understanding British presenters with heavy accents. Also people in America and the United Kingdom sometimes use different terminology for the same things. When presenting to foreign audiences, tell them upfront that if you say anything that may seem offensive or inappropriate, it isn’t your intention but simply a difference in languages. It’s also a good idea to welcome feedback and let your audience know that you will use their feedback to improve your skills at speaking their version of English.