How to Identify the Needs of International Audiences at a Presentation

International audiences can be very intimidating. The less you have prior knowledge of them, the more nervous you might become about how to appear and present before them. But some preparation beforehand goes a long way towards acquiring necessary skills and gaining confidence to handle international audiences.

There are three basic steps to making sure that you get your core message across and affect your audience. The old advice “Know your listeners” works better if you split it into two parts, one about the listener’s needs and the second one about the manner in which they process information. This method will help you get beyond cultural stereotypes with its many shortcomings.

  1. Identify your listeners’ needs
  2. Identify the manner of information gathering your listeners are used to
  3. Tailor your message to suit the needs and learning style of your audience

Identify your listeners’ needs

This is very difficult, as your listeners are not going to tell you “this is my need”. It is up to you to discover their needs in relation to your presentation. Unless they are in love or are consumed by morbid hatred, people usually act rationally. So there must be a rational reason for your audience to come to listen to you.

What is the reason for their giving you their time and attention?

You can start discovering that by inquiring before you meet them “What brings these people to listen to me“? Or “How are they connected to my topic“?

The answer usually is somehow connected to the theme of the gathering or that it brings some added value to them.

It is a bit too simple to assume that an audience has a uniform kind of expectation. People in the audience can have as many kinds of expectations and motives for being there as the varieties of their food tastes. Someone is there with a burning desire to learn new ideas. Another person is there because he found this topic to be the least boring among other presentations in the seminar. Yet another person can be there because she wants to be noticed for asking an intelligent question in an international seminar.

You wouldn’t speak to a board of directors in London in the same way as you would to young nurses back at home, would you?

Different audiences have different needs. One audience might need to learn more details about a new product or service or specific details about a project. Another audience might be looking for reassurance from the head office that their branch is not being downgraded or eventually shut down, while the official topic of the presentation maybe “Presentation of Corporate Annual Report”.

The time concepts of the people you are speaking with also play a vital role. A strict timetable may be realistic in a culture that’s exact and oriented towards immediate action. It may be considered pushy to stick to a timetable running strictly to the minute in a culture that’s more consensus-oriented and more relaxed.

Identify the manner of information gathering your listeners are used to

People have different learning styles. There are three basic learning styles or different approaches to learning. They are

1. Learning through seeing or Visual Learning

Visual learners may think in pictures and learn best from visual displays such as diagrams and pictures, illustrated textbooks, overhead transparencies, videos, flipcharts and handouts. These learners prefer sitting at the front of the room to avoid visual obstructions (e.g. other people’s heads).

2. Learning through listening or Auditory Learning

Auditory learners learn best through verbal lectures, discussions, talking things through and listening to what others have to say. Auditory learners try to interpret the underlying meanings of speech through listening to tone of voice, pitch, speed and other nuances. For them, written information achieves meaning only when it is heard.

3. Learning by doing, moving around, touching or Tactile/Kinaesthetic Learning

Tactile/Kinaesthetic persons learn best through a hands-on approach, actively exploring the physical world around them by touching or trying things for themselves. They may find it hard to sit still for long periods and may become distracted by their need for activity and exploration.

Usually people feel comfortable doing things they are used to doing until the point is reached where they get bored and desire change. So if a person is used to gathering information by reading and underlining text with color markers, she might not feel comfortable listening to a lecture with no handouts or possibilities for note taking. In some cultures like Finland or Japan interrupting a speaker is considered a breach of etiquette and all questions or comments usually are left till the end. In other cultures like Britain or USA presentations are usually interactive with lots of audience input in the form of short comments, jokes, questions or applause.

How interactive a presentation is, depends much on the culture.

Typically English speaking cultures like presentations to be lively and interactive. Paradoxically there are similarities among Far Eastern, Slavic and protestant cultures like Germany and Finland. Presentations there are formal and with few interruptions. Questions are answered either when the presentation ends or quickly as they arise. In Japan it is common to show concentration and attentiveness in public by closing the eyes and nodding the head up and down slightly. You might feel you are putting your audience to sleep in Japan, but don’t worry. Then again, don’t forget to check that you really are not boring them to sleep.

Many Europeans, particularly Scandinavians and Germans prefer to receive information in detail, with lots of supporting documentation. They want their presenters to be systematic and build to a clear point in their presentation. The Japanese business audiences, where senior managers are more likely to hold technical or management degrees are very similar. American and Canadian audiences, on the other hand, like a faster pace. The Latin and many Asian cultures prefer presentations with emotional appeal.

Tailor your message to suit audience needs and their method of information processing

This is where presentation skills matter the most. If your presentation, offering or message caters to the needs of the audience, they would feel energized, eager and responsive. In the best of cases they wouldn’t want to leave. If you know that your facts are shocking or revolutionary, you have to prepare your audience to digest these by guiding them to expect what you are about to give them. By giving examples and connecting your subject matter to their work or everyday life, you have to highlight the relevance for them.

Now how do you go about discovering the learning styles of your listeners? You just can’t ask them or put them through tests. Well, who says you can’t! Try asking your audience – they’ll be flattered.

At the beginning of your presentation, take a few seconds to establish contact with your audience and watch them. See how they behave as you go on.

  • Are they with you and paying attention?
  • Are they taking notes?
  • Are they gossiping with their neighbour?
  • Are they looking at the diagram you are showing or listening to you first?

People who start taking notes right away can actually have three different learning styles and it’s very difficult to know which is their strongest one. People who are gossiping with their neighbour can do for two reasons, either to discuss to topic or because they are not interested at all. So it’s almost impossible that you’ll have an audience with only one kind of learning style.

Your presentation should cater to all three styles of information processing. Use graphics and diagrams along with oral presentations and if possible use methods like rhetorical questions or asking audience members guiding questions to place the topic in their midst. This way you try to appeal to different senses and different methods of gathering information and make the chances to getting the right message across and leaving a powerful impression higher.

Good luck!

How To Prevent From Being Slaughtered When You Negotiate – Negotiation Tip of the Week

“What the heck happened in there? They slaughtered us! They out-negotiated us at every turn! Why did we not see that coming?” “I guess we didn’t plan for that type of negotiation with that type of negotiator”, was the reply.

People engage in negotiations because they seek to maximize an outcome. In that quest, some people lose their focus. They use the same negotiation strategies they’ve used in the past and wonder why they get slaughtered when those strategies are no longer effective. To prevent that from happening to you, note the following.


Environment: Know what the best environment is to conduct your negotiation in. That environment may encompass doing so in writing, or phone, versus in person. There are different dynamics that come into play when negotiating in different environments. Know the environment that will most benefit your style of negotiating compared to the negotiation style of the opposing negotiator.

Perception: Everyone has an image of who the person is that they’re negotiating with. That persona is based in part on what the perceiver knows about the other negotiator; that stems from what the perceiver has seen, heard, and thought of that person in the past.

Project the persona warranted for the negotiation. Take into consideration the negotiation style of the opposing negotiator in your calculation (i.e. hard (I’ll crush you), soft (I’ll go along to get along)). The perception you cast and how you perceive the other negotiator will determine the flow of the negotiation. To prevent being caught off guard, about your perception of the other negotiator and him of you, be adaptable as to the persona you project.


Entity: Know who you’re really dealing with (i.e. what force and sources motivates the other negotiator). Consider how he interprets information and how best to message that information related to the messenger (i.e. your persona). Your message may be received more favorably with one persona based on how that persona is perceived.

Leverage: When assembling strategies, assess how you’ll employ the powers of leverage. Leverage is a tool that can embolden you with positional power (i.e. power you have for a specified time), which can improve your negotiation position. Be cautious of how you use leverage. If you state you’ll engage in an action and don’t follow through, not only will you lose the ability to invoke leverage further in the negotiation, you also run the risk of losing credibility.

End Game:

What’s your end game and how will you know when you’ve entered it? You should develop the answers to those questions during the planning phase of your negotiation. The plan should encompass what might trigger the end game phase of the negotiation, how you might promote it to occur if it’s lagging, and what you might do to terminate the negotiation if you discern that your efforts will not get you there.

By having markers denoting possible exit points from a negotiation, you lessen the possibility of staying engaged longer than what’s necessary; staying engaged longer increases your vulnerability by making unnecessary concessions.

Once you arm yourself with the thoughts mentioned above, you’ll insulate yourself from the brutality that could otherwise occur. That insulation will also be a shield that prevents you from being slaughtered in your negotiations… and everything will be right with the world.

Remember, you’re always negotiating!

Spyware Removal – Do You Have Spyware Present On Your System?

If you are being bombarded by pop-up ads while browsing the web or are noticing that your PCs performance has decreased drastically over a short period of time, it is likely that your system has been infected with spyware and that spyware removal may be necessary.

How did the spyware get onto my system?

Spyware programs can easily access your system in a number of ways, but a favourite method used by many spyware authors is to dupe the user into clicking on a pop-up ad that appears while they are browsing the web.

These pop-ups are presented in a number of ways, but ironically links to spyware program downloads are often hidden inside of pop-ups which claim to warn you of viruses or spyware programs that are already present on your system.

These pop-ups (normally in the form of a little box that appears saying something like “You Have 142 Viruses on Your System”) also claim to be able to scan your computer and remove them! These pop-ups are designed to instill fear into the novice PC user and can unfortunately be very convincing to the untrained eye.

Many of these pop-ups But instead of scanning your computer to make it safe and secure, these “scans” give the spyware author complete access to your system and personal details.

What should I do if I think I have the spyware problem?

The most important thing to do is to take steps to remove the spyware as quickly as possible. Do not ignore the problem. What may appear to just be a few annoying adverts now, could result in hundreds of pounds worth of credit card fraud later on.

If you fear that spyware is present on your system and that your personal details could be at risk, it is vital that you contact a spyware removal specialist immediately. Spyware removal specialists can quickly and efficiently remove all traces of these invasive programs from your system.

Don’t be tricked into downloading virus removal or spyware removal software that is available online. Many of these spyware removal programs are actually malicious applications themselves that can access and infect your computer with harmful programs such as viruses, spyware and adware.