Presenting to international audiences is much different than public speaking in the United States. The customs are unique, and the preferences regarding humor in a public speaking presentation are also distinctive. A public speaker who takes the time to learn about the people and their culture will more easily form a connection with an international audience.
Familiarity with style of humor.
* Ask about the age of your audience when researching for your public speaking event in Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. Many students from those areas have been educated in the United States and are comfortable with our humor and communication styles.
* If the audience is of mixed ages, use well-researched humor, avoid political statements and in some cases such as Japan, avoid humor entirely.
Eye contact and facial expression.
* Asians do not like to make eye contact with the speaker as a matter of respect.
* Latin Americans and Middle Easterners, on the other hand, may look toward male speakers with a penetrating stare. However, they may not make eye contact with women speakers as a matter of respect.
* Northern Europeans do not show emotion.
* Koreans maintain a deadpan expression.
* Before beginning to speak to a Japanese audience, always bow in front of the lectern.
* Try to learn some phrases in the language of your audience. Even if you make mistakes, they will appreciate your effort. Always apologize for your lack of ability in using their native language.
* If you are invited to dine with your host, be prepared to give an eloquent toast in their language.
* Be aware of various eating styles such as chopsticks, using both the knife and fork and eating only with the right hand.
* Ask lots of questions about the culture and history of the host’s country to show respect.
* Learn the gift giving rituals for the countries you visit. Research the gifts, the appropriate wrapping, the timing of the presentation, the value of the gift, presentation etiquette and potential taboos.
* Take many small gifts. Before you wrap them, keep in mind that your gifts may have to clear customs.
* In Asia, expect to receive and give lots of small gifts.
* Dress conservatively.
* Women, be very cautious about your attire in Asia, Latin America and the Middle East to preserve your credibility.
Before heading oversees to speak, conduct through research of the people and their culture, decide whether the audience will accept humor and learn a few phrases in their language.
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