How To Speak To A Global Audience

A global audience is very different from your normal audience
A global audience is very different from your normal audience
Image Credit: Kieran Lynam

As speakers we understand the importance of public speaking and so we tend to spend a lot of time thinking about what we want to say in our next speech. We’ll worry about what words to use, how we should stand when we are on stage, and the importance of making good eye contact with our audience. However, it turns out that there is something even more important than this that we should be spending our time thinking about. We should really be spending our time thinking about our audience. Just exactly who are they? Perhaps even more importantly, where did they come from? I think that we can easily answer this question when our audience is a local audience, but what are the correct answers when we are dealing with a global audience?

Picking The Right Words For A Global Audience

As you can well imagine, a global audience comes from all over. What this means for you as a speaker is that you have a real speaking challenge on your hands. Effectively what having a global audience really means is that every person in your audience may be different from everyone else. Generally when we give speeches, members of our audience share common traits and we can appeal to those traits in our speech. No so with a global audience.

One of the things that you are going to have to keep in mind about your global audience is that there are things that you are not going to be able to use in your speech. Specifically, you should not use metaphors, colloquialisms, or pop culture references that may mean a lot to you but may mean nothing to your audience. These phrases simply don’t translate well. The people in your audience have their own set of sayings that if they were used while talking with you would leave your confused about what they were trying to say. Instead, keep it simple and strip all of this local content out of your next global speech.

Keeping It Short For A Global Audience

If you are like me, you speak English. Not only do I speak English, but I speak it quite well. However, when your audience is a global audience, you are going to have to make some adjustments. Yes, there is a good chance that your audience does speak your language. However, it’s not necessarily their native language. This means that we need to change the way that we speak when we are talking to a global audience. The sentences that we say have to become short and be easy for our audience to digest and translate internally. The best kind of structure for your sentences would be a simple “noun-verb-noun” sentence. These can be translated very easily by your audience.

Slow It Down For A Global Audience

When I’m giving a speech in English, because I speak it well, I like to speak it fast – I’ve got a lot to say and never feel that I have enough time in which to say it. What this means is that as you are speaking, they are listening to what you say and then translating it into their own language in order to understand what you are trying to communicate. What you and I may not fully realize is that this type of “mental translation” takes time to accomplish. When they are doing this, they can’t listen to what we are saying at the same time. We need to slow things down so that they can fully appreciate all that we are telling them..

What All Of This Means For You

When we give a speech, all too often we can find ourselves focusing on the words that we are going to be saying. What we really need to be thinking about is our audience and how we can share the benefits of public speaking with them. Specifically, we need to take a close look at who is going to be in our audience. If it turns out that we have a global audience then everyone in the audience is going to be different. This means that as a speaker, we need to make some adjustments to how we are going to create and deliver our speech.

The first thing that we need to realize is that our audience is not from around here. What that means for us as speakers is that if we use the wrong words, our audience is not going to be able to understand the points that we’re trying to make. What we are going to have to do is to go over our speech and remove any metaphors, colloquialisms, or pop culture references. Our audience won’t understand them and so we need to find a different way to say the same thing. We also have to realize that English may not be our audience’s native language. Because of this we need to modify how we construct our speech. Gone are the long winding sentences. These need to be replaced with simple and short sentence that our audience will be able to quickly and easily translate into their native language. Finally, although we always have a limited amount of time in which to give a speech, we need to slow things down. Our audience can only translate what we are saying so fast. Slow it down and allow your audience to take in what you are trying to communicate to them.

What you have to say as a speaker is important. Having an opportunity to address a global audience is a great honor. However, in order to make sure that this diverse audience is able to understand what you are saying and allows you to connect with them, you are going to have to modify how you give your speech. Changing your speech to meet the needs of a global audience will allow your audience to understand what you are telling them and to appreciate you as a speaker.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Public Speaking Skills™

Question For You: Do you think that you should modify your hand gestures when speaking to a global audience?

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Note: What we talked about are advanced speaking skills. If you are just starting out I highly recommend joining Toastmasters in order to get the benefits of public speaking. Look for a Toastmasters club to join in your home town by visiting the web site Toastmasters is dedicated to helping their members to understand the importance of public speaking by developing listening skills and getting presentation tips. Toastmasters is how I got started speaking and it can help you also!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

I’m sorry to have to be the one to share this with you, but when you are giving a speech your audience really does not care about you. Oh yeah, you picked a topic that you thought would appeal to them, you have some experience or expertise in this area that you told the world about in order to get people to show up for the speech, and so on. However, as your audience sits there in those uncomfortable chairs, it turns out that they really don’t give a darn about you. Instead, when it comes to your speech, they want to know whats in it for them. How are you going to make this happen?