Speakers Need To Understand Cultural Nuances In Order To Communicate

Speakers need to understand that their meaning is in how they say it
Speakers need to understand that their meaning is in how they say it
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If you thought that creating and delivering a speech was tough, then you haven’t tried to deliver a speech to an international audience. It can be tough trying to use the importance of public speaking to connect with people who think like you do, trying to connect with people who may think differently is even harder to do. The good news is that this can be done. However, as a speaker you need to know what you are up against and then adjust your speaking style to make sure that you can connect with your audience.

Different Cultures Have Different Speaking Styles

Let’s face it – we are all different. This is an important fact that speakers need to keep in mind when we are preparing to address an audience. When we are presenting to an international audience, we would like to appear to be authentic to them. However, the challenge that we run into is that we many not know what is “normal” to people from our audience’s culture. This is where things can start to become difficult for us. We have to realize that even if the majority of our audience agrees on certain values, it is entirely possible that not all of them do and differences can still exist.

When we are addressing people from multiple cultural groups we need to be aware of what can happen. There is the ever-present possibility that miscommunication between us and our audience can occur. In order to prevent this from happening, it is our job as speakers to take the time to understand diverse cultural communication styles. This means that we need to be culturally aware and at the same time sensitive to different cultures when we are speaking to audiences that come from cultures that are different from our own.

A good example of the differences between cultures comes when we take a look at how Americans talk. Americans tend to speak in short bursts in which we will ask a question using a phrase such as “isn’t it?” When Americans speak, pauses in the speech are uncommon. This is in contrast to how the Japanese speak. Japanese speakers are expected to speak deliberately and carefully consider their words before they speak. When you get people from these different cultures addressing each other, you can clearly see that the potential for miscommunication exists.

Sometimes It’s All About Context

One of the biggest differences between how cultures communicate with each other comes down to something called “context”. It turns out that there are actually two different types of context: high and low. When someone is speaking using high context, the most crucial part of the information that they are trying to communicate won’t be mentioned. Instead, the audience will be expected to understand it by reading between the lines of what is being said. The good news is that if the audience is used to being addressed using high context, they will be able to understand what the speaker means even if they don’t come out and actually say it.

In an alternative situation, a speaker can use low context to address an audience. In this type of speech, the communication with the audience will be both direct and explicit. The goal of the speaker will be to clearly state what they are thinking and what they want the audience to do. As speakers, we need to understand that if we have audience members who don’t appreciate the low context style of speaking, they may walk away feeling that we were rude, harsh, or even impolite. However, this was not the way that we intended to come across. Instead, speakers who communicate using this style are attempting to be both time-saving and efficient and make the best use of the time that they have been given.

As speakers we need to understand that we are facing a challenge here. We need to understand the criteria that we need to use when we are addressing an audience that may come from a culture that is different from ours. We need to focus on key issues such as appropriateness, comprehensibility, and being polite. One of the biggest obstacles that we will be facing is that none of these items come with a universal definition of exactly what they are. In order to be successful, we simply need to keep working to improve our speaking skills.

What All Of This Means For You

When we are presented with an opportunity to use the benefits of public speaking to address an international audience, we need to be careful. Our audience will come from a culture that is different from our own and we need to be aware of this if we want to have any chance of connecting with them. This can be done, but it is going to require some extra effort on your part. You will have to adjust your speaking style.

When we are addressing an audience from a different culture we would like to come across as being authentic to them. We need to understand what the values of our audience are and we need to understand that they all may not share the same values. There is the possibility of miscommunication when we are addressing people from a culture that is different from ours. Americans and Japanese speak differently and if they try to address each other, miscommunication can easily happen. There are two different types of context that can be used when giving a speech. High context requires the speaker to not directly say what they mean. Low context requires the speaker to be very direct about what they mean. As speakers, we need to understand who we are addressing and adjust our speaking style to match their needs.

As speakers, our goal is always to find a way to connect with our audience in order to allow us to get our message across to them. When we are addressing an international audience, achieving this goal can be even more difficult than it normally is. However, if we take the time to understand the international audience that we will be addressing then we can find way to connect with them. By doing our homework to understand our next audience, we can become the speaker that they will listen to and allow our words to change their lives.

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

Question For You: Do you think that it is better to be direct or vague when addressing an international 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 www.Toastmasters.org. 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

So we can all speak. However, how many of us can speak fast? I mean really fast? We all understand that when we are asked to give a speech, we are generally given an amount of time that we can use to deliver our speech. All too often, things change – the event started late, someone ran over, etc. When we get ready to take the stage, despite the importance of public speaking, we’re told that we have less time than we were originally promised. The can cause problems for lots of speakers. However, what if there was a way that we could prepare for situations like this?