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!

“Shoulder Shrugs Can Expose Scary Secrets In A Negotiation” – Negotiation Tip of the Week

Have you heard the cliché, “what you don’t know can’t hurt you”? If you have, do you subscribe to it? If you do, you shouldn’t. Because, a lack of knowledge can expose you to scary secrets in a negotiation - secrets that can bite you at the most unsuspecting points in the negotiation. But, there’s one way you can protect yourself. How – by accurately interpreting the meaning of shoulder shrugs when you negotiate.

Shoulder shrugs convey secret information. They expose hidden thoughts of the person that’s attempting to hide those thoughts.

Observe the following shoulder shrug examples. You’ll obtain hidden information that those shrugs attempt to conceal.

When a person displays a shoulder shrug, it can represent a multitude of hidden meanings. It can be a sign of reluctance (i.e. what more do you expect of me) – a sign of protection (i.e. I’m not going to stick my neck out) – it can also be a sign of exasperation (i.e. I’m getting tired of this). Regardless of the hidden meaning, it gives additional insight into the thoughts of that person.

Single Shrug: A single shrug can denote a lack of full commitment in response to a question or statement made.

Leaning Preference

  • When displaying a single shoulder shrug, a person will tend to favor their dominant side. This is important to note – because it adds additional meaning to the shrug. As an example, if someone that’s right-handed shrugs their left shoulder, he may be displaying less of a commitment to the response that caused the gesture. As with everything related to reading body language, you must establish someone’s body language foundation before you can accurately assess the validity of their actions.

Double Shrug: A double shrug (both shoulders elevated) can connote more commitment to a reply or statement. As an example, if one elevated both shoulders while stating, “I didn’t do it”, she’d be displaying more commitment to the statement then if she displayed a single shrug – note: to discern the probability of the truth you should still probe deeper. The act of the shrug is that person’s commitment to her pronouncement at that moment – it can change with further probing.

Leaning Preference

  • When someone performs a double shrug, that person’s hands provide additional insights. As an example, if an offer is made consisting of two items and the recipient says, “I don’t care”, while shrugging with one hand higher than the other, he’s nonverbally expressing a preference for one of the items – the preference lies in the order the items were offered or their proximity to the hand that’s higher.

Additional Shrug Meanings:

Hands: The movement of someone’s hands lends insights into their thoughts. To gather additional awareness per the meaning of a shrug, take note of…

  • hands close to the body – indicates they’re guarded
  • hands palms-up – signals they have less to conceal
  • hands palms-down – they’re less accepting
  • hands palms-up-and-out – says, keep away from me

Head Tuck: To observe how threatened someone might feel when they shrug, note the degree they protect their head when…

  • head extends forward – says, I’ll challenge you
  • head to one side – denotes preference
  • head straight up – states, I’m willing to expose more of myself
  • head tucked – says, I’m making myself less of a target

Of course, the additional shrug meanings can conceal someone’s real intent. That’s because good negotiators can affect this maneuver to add perceived emotional credibility to their effect.

Shrug Time:

Always note the length of time a shrug lasts and the number of times they occur. The length and number of times will indicate a person’s ever-changing degree of angst or determination to get you to back off. In all cases, they’ll be signaling information that you can use to enhance the negotiation.

Action Item:

Start noticing when, under what circumstances, and how frequently people shrug their shoulders. Doing that will increase your attentiveness and skills about this behavior. That will allow you to become a better negotiator… and everything will be right with the world.

Remember, you’re always negotiating!

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How About Presenting Someone You Love With Wine Gift Baskets?

The holiday season is that special time of the entire year when most of us present each other with different types of presents. Whilst people who obtain those gifts are undoubtedly delighted, more often than not, many of them acquire several copies of the identical gift. In order to ensure that your gift is something specific, you ought to be sure that you present the one you love with wine gift baskets.

Search the net and you will locate a number of internet shops that handle this particular type of gift. Even though these wine gift baskets do not come cheap, specific discounts can be found throughout the festive season and you need to make the most of that. Choose the one that offers the favorite make of wine the one you love likes and make certain that it also contains cheese, wine biscuits, crackers, sausages as well as other stuff that are related to wine.

There are so many various selections obtainable that you may discover yourself puzzled in deciding on the ideal one. There are a couple of choices open for you.

You may either set yourself a budget or decide on a wine basket accordingly. Nevertheless, if money is no concern than you can purchase the best that the online stores have on offer. The websites that offer these things offer an internal search engine and you can use that to restrict your lookup by either the brand name or either by the cost variety you are prepared to invest.

In the event you are willing to go ahead somewhat more, why do you not buy a bottle of sparkling champagne for that someone unique? You can be rest assured that he or she will keep in mind that gift for a long time to come.

Make certain that the prices displayed on the online store are including shipping and handling. Else, you might wind up spending a lot more than that which you had bargained for. Don’t restrict your search to simply one store, especially because you’re purchasing web based.

The set up of the wine basket can also be as vital as its contents and you need to keep an eye with regard to that too. You need to be cautious concerning one thing although. A number of fraud online stores who make inappropriate utilisation of the joyful season. You need to be able to differentiate the ripoffs from the authentic ones. If so needed, seek the help of any friend or relative, especially in case you are not net savvy.