Giving a Presentation Overseas?
If you think giving a presentation or a speech in front of an audience can be stressful, wait till you have to give one in a foreign language or in front of a foreign audience!
If your employer asks you to do so on your next international trip, resort to the below suggestions to get rid of the butterflies that you may feel in your stomach.
1- Commit the speech to memory in the language of your audience if you can. If you don’t know the language, write the presentation and get it translated professionally. This way as you present it in your native language, your local field rep can read the correct translation and not ad-lib his or her interpretations. Your company and product image and messages are too important to leave to random interpretations.
2- Practice, practice and practice again! Avoid reading a script so that you can establish eye contact with your audience. The audience may have a problem understanding you if you are speaking a foreign language, or their language with a heavy accent. Keeping eye contact with them will help you retain their attention and communicate your thoughts to them.
3- Before you start your speech, pause, take a deep breath, and smile… You will be amazed at the positive energy you will gain. Broad body language is a universal language. Use it effectively to compensate for any linguistic barriers.
4- Never apologize for being nervous. The audience cannot read your mind. Apparent nervousness is very distracting to any audience and can be debilitating. If you feel nervous, no one needs to know it.
5- Even though the task maybe daunting, try to divert energy to enthusiasm and excitement instead of nervousness. Join a local Toastmasters International club if you need help and an opportunity to practice. There are thousands of clubs around the world and one or a few may be in your backyard.
6- If you have too much energy to know what to do with, burn it off prior to the speech at the gym or by going for a jog. Dissipating your adrenaline shortly before you speak will help reduce nervousness and its impact on your speech.
7- If you experience mild trembling, don’t make your hands visible until you regain confidence. It often takes only a minute or two in the beginning of the talk for the adrenaline rush to ware out. Tremor is most visible in extremities. You can plant your feet firm on the ground and leave your hands by your side or set them on the lectern. If you have to use your hands the first couple of minutes, make only broad gestures. No one will notice the fine movements. Avoid using a laser pointer as distance pointing will amplify your tremor.
8- Avoid the ahs and ums! These are distracting filler words that are recognized as such by audiences all over the world. Use pauses instead to emphasize words and ideas. Pauses will also give your audience a chance to catch up with you.
9- Unless you are fluent, do not attempt to answer questions in the foreign language during or after your talk. Again, solicit the help of your local office if needed. You can take the questions from the audience and then answer them in your native language, giving time for a local rep to interpret your answers. Listen to the interpretation and then reemphasize points that were not interpreted correctly.
10- And most importantly, excellent preparation is your best friend. Make sure that your presentation and speech are accurately translated into the language of your audience. Your translation vendor can play a paramount role making you sound professional!
Butterflies Be Gone
Experiment with the above and the butterflies will soon return to their cocoons and you will become an appreciated speaker, even in international arenas!
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