Presenting across Cultures
Picture the scene. A German company has been taken over by the Americans who wish to make changes. Most of these are accepted but there are one or two things which the German team know will not work. Their US colleagues meet them to listen to their arguments and they begin with their organisational history; with the pre-acquisition structure and the logic behind it; with their business plan from three years ago presented by the various people responsible; with the problems the changes might cause and their consequences, etc. etc., and by the 37th slide the Americans are yawning and looking at their watches.
There is nothing wrong with the German approach, but it just doesn’t generally suit the US business mentality…
Americans tend to:
- be highly time-conscious
- want the solutions at the start, without the process leading to them
- wish to see that the bottom-line will be improved
- desire a positive ‘Yes we can’ atmosphere
- minimise the past and focus on the future
The world is full of such cultural contradictions in presentation, such as the French requirement for logical eloquent argument, British pragmatism and humour, the Swedish need for consensus, the Japanese search for harmony and long-term relationships.
Of course, you should not go too far and lose your identity. But understanding your listeners is probably the key to persuasive communication. And when they have different values and ways of communicating than you, sensitivity to that is crucial to getting them to act how you wish.
In presentation training at Richard Lewis Communications, we take a holistic approach, beginning with an analysis of you and your professional aims. We then select the right trainer or trainers to work with you on different areas. This could include language, communication skills in general, and the cultural element.
You do not get a standardised format in which you learn by rote a ready-made way of presenting. It is more about bringing out your own best qualities, while developing the flexibility to adjust to different cultural contexts.
Every client is unique, and this is why the initial analysis is essential. If you and/or your team feel you ought to get your ideas across more persuasively, then contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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