How to Speak to International Audience – Part 1

If you have an opportunity to speak to a foreign audience, do not turn it down as it is always lovely to share ideas with people from different ethnicities and languages. They may be in your country, belonging to different heritage, language, or cultural backgrounds; here, you have an opportunity to communicate with them. We will discuss some particular tips to increase the odds of being more successful with your presentation. They will be helpful if you aim at giving the people a good feeling about you that the people have a good feeling about you, understand and remember your message, process it, and take the actions you want.

Define the structure of your audience

You may be in another country where the audience can understand English as it is their second or third language, or you may have an audience that does not understand English. Such an audience may have an interpreter repeating everything after every 30 seconds or so in the language the audience understands. There is another possibility that you have a mixture of audiences. The following tips apply to all the possible scenarios.

Write down the speech

Usually, writing a word-to-word speech is not an ideal practice. Still, if you speak to a foreign audience that may have difficulty understanding your language, writing the speech down will prove immensely helpful for the interpreter. You can give it to the interpreter in advance so that he has an idea of your key points and what you will be talking about. According to the situation, you can also give some notes or even the whole document to the audience. They can have it translated by google translate, which does a pretty good job if not 100% accurate. You may have to hire someone to translate the text and give it to the people in advance so that people, understand what you say on the stage. Meet the translator as soon as possible to discuss your topic so that they can convey your concept in the best possible words. Simply talking to them will make their job easier, and they will be able to understand what you want to say in a better way. If you arrive at a place where you will have your presentation after lunch, it is good to have lunch with the translater so that he gets familiar with your speech pattern.

Manage some handouts if not a translator

If you have difficulty finding a great translator, it is costing too much or might not work into your schedule, and you cannot manage a translator, you must have some handouts even on a single page with a few bullet points covering your core content. Have only those points translated for the audience to get something that gives a little more structure to what you are talking about. It may include the title and the key points or give them a link where they can reach out to you if they need to discuss anything with you. This practice may not be easy if you are going to address thousands of people, but if you are talking to a hundred people or less, it is a matter of a few sheets of paper that will help your audience a lot.

Avoid cultural references

When preparing your presentation, it is critically important that you avoid cultural references that are not going to make any sense for that foreign audience. One classic example is an American talking about the touchdown and football metaphors. Nobody else in the rest of the world will be interested in what they are talking about. In this way, you will lose your audience and waste your time. Focus on your audience and look at how they seem. Do they look interested in listening to your thoughts? Do they understand what you are saying? Make sure the examples or case studies you are talking about resonate with the people all around or specific to your country. The more advanced research you can do related to that country includes giving examples specific to that country, like talking about their sports stars, religion, or culture doing this comes with the risk of being offensive if you don’t properly understand the culture and accidentally disrespect one of these things. This can do a great job of hooking up the audience. If you do not have the time to do so or are unwilling to do so, you must at least include references, analogies, or metaphors that can resonate at the human level everywhere. For example, you can talk about family, joy, childbirth, or anything that translates across cultures.

Speak a bit louder and slower

While speaking to an audience that does not have the language you are using as their native language, it is advised to speak a little louder and a little slower than usual, but not too much so that it feels condescending. When you talk a bit slow, you make it easier for the audience to process what you are saying. They can see the separation of words, hear, figure it, and translate it into the language they understand. You do not have to speak robotically and don’t be afraid to pause a little more between senses, thoughts, and paragraphs. Feel free to walk a little more, pause, reflect, look at people’s eyes and establish a connection with the audience. It will also make it easier for the translater to translate your sentences and thoughts accurately. Although professional translators can manage the critical job of listening and speaking simultaneously, your pauses give them a break to do it effectively. Talking a little louder makes everyone comprehend more easily. It does not mean you have to yell or shout but only speak a little louder than usual. This tip will make your speech or presentation more effective in front of a foreign audience.


Speaking to a foreign audience provides you with an opportunity to convey your ideas across the globe. Prepare yourself according to the audience structure. Get an idea of how much the audience understands the language you are using to communicate. Write down your speech to make the translator’s job easy, which manages to make an effective connection with the audience. If you cannot manage a translater, give some handouts translated into the language the audience understands. Avoid cultural references in your speech or presentation, which can lose the audience’s attention. Talk a little louder and slower so that the audience can connect and understand completely what you are saying.

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