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July 2024
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3 Simple Tips for Speaking to a Global Audience

By Dean M. Brenner


In the 21st century business world, very few things are NOT global in some way, and successful professionals and organizations have no choice but to think about how to reach and connect to a global audience. When speaking to a global audience, here are some tips on making them remember what you say.


1

Don’t use colloquialisms, examples, metaphors or pop culture references that are not likely to translate well.


I was on a conference call a few months back, led by an American who loved to use sports clichés and metaphors. During this global web meeting with people from 10 different countries, he insisted on using the phrase “three yards and a cloud of dust” to describe his team’s determined progress. For an American football fan, the metaphor is vivid and clear. But the guy from Holland and the woman from China were completely lost. After the call, I encouraged him to adjust his speech pattern. He eventually got it, but his first reaction was “come on, everyone knows what that means.”


2

Make sure your sentences are short, easy to digest and have simple “noun-verb-object-period” sentence structure.


The simpler the sentence structure, the easier it is for the non-native English speaker to follow you.


3

Slow down, and pause more frequently.


Think of your words as a meal. We don’t want to give our audience indigestion by eating too quickly. We want them to enjoy the meal. We want them to take a bite, chew, swallow and take a moment to breathe before the next bite. With a global audience, the absorption rate is going to be different because many of them are probably thinking in their first language and then translating into English. This adds time, and we must be patient and respectful.


This article was originally published on The Latimer Group website in September 2016.

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