Cross Cultural Presentations

The international flavour of many people’s jobs naturally means that there is greater interaction between people from different cultures. Within the business environment, understanding and coping with intercultural differences between people is critical to ensuring that interpersonal communication is successful.

Intercultural awareness is necessary for two reasons. Firstly, it minimises the possibility of misunderstandings and/or the causing of offense through intercultural mishaps. Secondly, it is a means to maximising the potential of business relationships through the utilization of intercultural differences productively.

One area within the business environment in which intercultural awareness is a necessity is in the business presentation. Directors, managers, salespeople, consultants and business personnel are regularly required to deliver presentations. However, when one is asked to give a presentation to an audience from a different culture there are intercultural factors that can hinder the success of a presentation.

By way of illustrating some of the intercultural differences in presentations, these tips to effective cross cultural presentations are offered:

Language:

The language you use in a cross cultural presentation is important. Although the majority of the language that is used in a cross cultural presentation will be understood by an English speaking foreign audience, a speaker must be careful when it comes to slang, idioms or phrases.

If an Englishman were to talk of being “knocked for six” or “bowled over” he may very well be met with puzzled expressions. More subtly, when an American talks of a ‘billion’ he means a thousand million, whereas in the UK this would mean a million million. Try and keep language simple.

Body Language:

Pay attention to your body language in a cross cultural presentation. Some cultures are quite animated and will appreciate hand gestures and the expression of emotion through the body. Others expect speakers to remain calm and would find such behaviour over the top. Similarly pay attention to the use of gestures. The thumbs up may mean ‘good’ in the USA but it means something very different in Iran. Eye contact can also be a major intercultural difference. Some cultures consider strong eye contact a sign of sincerity, others find it overbearing and an invasion of privacy. Do your cross cultural homework before a presentation.

Time:

Be aware of different approaches to time across cultures. Some cultures prefer a structured, timetabled approach to conducting business affairs, others are more casual. In countries where a start time is considered a guide rather than a definite, allow time for networking or engage in some chit chat until others arrive. Oppositely, if you arrive late to a meeting in a punctual culture, expect some negative feedback. Always show the appropriate stiffness or flexibility depending on the culture.

Emotions:

Some cross cultural presentations may be in front of a small number of people and deal with sensitive issues in a pressured environment. In such intercultural situations one should always keep their emotions in check. In some cultures a certain amount of cross examination or scrutiny may occur. If this happens bear in mind the positive intentions behind such actions, i.e. the questions are only being posed to establish facts, not to undermine you. Never lose patience, show frustration or display anger. To do so will lead to a loss of credibility.

Style of Presentation:

Different cultures learn and take in information in varying ways. One should always try and tailor their presentation style to meet the needs of the target culture. Some cultures, such as Europeans, prefer information to be presented in detail and in a way that sets down foundations that act as the support to a final argument or point. In such a presentation the speaker should gradually lead the audience, using a logical succession of points, to a conclusion. On the other hand, some cultures, like the US, prefer a much faster paced presentation that is bottom-line orientated, meaning the presenter speaks from a point rather towards a point.

Use of Technology:

Power Point is not the default method of giving a presentation across the world. Some countries many not even have the technical capabilities to accommodate this so one would need to adapt to the resources at hand, whether it be an Over Head Projector or blackboard. Some cultures do not even like a visual element to presentations and find much more worth in words and personality.

Content:

In a cross cultural presentation, ensure you tailor the content of a presentation to the audience. Different cultures expect different things from a business presentation. Long term orientated cultures may be excited about future projections and figures, but others would rather learn more about the presenter’s credentials, accomplishments and experience. A presenter needs to ask whether the target culture will appreciate factual, statistical information presented visually, or a more personal oratory approach.

Audience Participation:

Audiences react in different ways across cultures. Some are very engaging and are willing to participate in exercises and Q&A sessions, others are the opposite. Audiences also show respect in many ways. A Japanese audience may close their eyes while listening; a US one may clap when a good point is made and a Saudi one may do nothing at all.

Although the number of areas where one could point to intercultural differences in presentations is vast, for the sake of brevity the above mentioned areas have been highlighted as a way of drawing attention to some of the major ones. It is hoped these can then act as a foundation to improving ones insight into the way intercultural differences manifest in the business environment.

Winning Business Presentation Design – Creation, Formatting, Illustration Techniques Discussed

Business presentations can make or break a business proposition. Understanding key design elements and setting up your presentation can go far to assure success. There are specific items techniques that will assure a quality product. While there many other approaches, permutations, sources, and skills, these will produce a very high quality product.

The first item we want to consider is the presentation theme. Microsoft PowerPoint is probably the most readily available product. Because of this, we will focus on a presentation using this product. First, Microsoft PowerPoint offers a variety of themes as part of the package. These are not very imaginative, but in general they are conservative and will not make a bad impression. Moreover, you can tailor the color pallet, font selection, and font size on the master for each of these themes. Don’t stray too far from what is expected, but keep in mind that a good impression is the objective. Since this is the case, you probably should perform a search for free downloadable PowerPoint themes from the Internet. This will expand the possibilities, increase the impact, and improve the professional feel of your presentation.

Next, ensure the text in your presentation offers correct grammar and spelling. Nothing destroys the impact of a presentation like the immediate sense that the product is sloppily prepared.

If you are making a presentation, you are selling something. You may be selling your expertise. You may be selling the conclusions you reached from research. You may be trying to close a contract or win an investor. While you may not be a sales person, you need to expect that by definition a presentation means you are selling. Therefore, you need to decide what conclusion you expect your audience to reach. Then you need to set up your presentation to deliver that conclusion. This means that your charts need to tell them what you want them to understand, explain why this is important to them, and emotionally involves them in reaching your intended conclusion.

Now for the individual charts of your presentation. Keep your audience focused. This implies that every chart should be animated. This feature will take a few minutes to master, but choose appropriate animations that bring the audience’s focus to the charts with each main bullet. Follow the main bullets with animations bringing in subsequent bullets one at a time or in groups as the presentation objectives support. Changing it up can be valuable. A single very consistent display of items may not be the best choice. Instead use a variety of animations considering what is appropriate given the intended message and the audience.

Next, apply transitions between the slides. Transitions again help bring your audience back in focus as the motion of the change helps regain their attention.

Finally, apply graphics that support emotionally the conclusions your presentation intends.

As a presenter, these hints for visual appeal, quality appearance, solid fundamental form, and impactful display go far to assure the desired presentation result.

Do You Seek Positive Conclusions to Perceived Negativity in Negotiations

Perceived negativity occurs in every negotiation, but is perceived negativity negative in a negotiation? It doesn’t have to be. Perceived negativity does occur in every negotiation. If it doesn’t, you nor the other negotiators are negotiating effectively. When perceived negativity occurs in your negotiations, how do you control it and what tactics do you employ to do so. Consider the following situations and the embedded opportunities in them.

1. If you’re outnumbered and feel disadvantaged, consider ways in which you could benefit from it. As an example, if you live in a setting where people smoke and you can’t prevent them from doing so, you might consider having cigarettes on hand and selling them at a marked up price. Grant it, the problem of preventing them from smoking would not be solved, but at least you’d profit financially from their disapproving ways. In essence, in your negotiations, when you encounter negativity, seek ways to take lemons and turn them into lemonade.

2. Hypothetically, you own the last three Picasso paintings in the world. When viewing the paintings, someone accidentally slips. While trying to catch their balance, they rip one of the paintings. One way to view this occurrence is from the perspective of having one of your paintings having lost its value. Another way to view it is from the perspective that the other two Picassos are now worth more. In your negotiations, frame negative situations to appear in their best possible light. Negativity doesn’t have to be viewed as being negative, unless that perspective serves your position. If it doesn’t serve your position, highlight the positive.

3. Negativity in a negotiation can be beneficial, but only to the degree that it’s felt. If you stress a potential negative outcome, from the perspective of how the other negotiator will be impaired if it occurs and she can’t ‘feel’ or experience that negativity, it will not be received with the same level of ‘realism’ as if it had occurred. When speaking of negativity, if you wish to highlight the potential downfall of not taking one path over another, or addressing a situation sooner versus later, cite ‘real life’ experiences that had the most horrid outcomes to heighten your point. To enrich your point, verbally paint ghoulish pictures that are as reprehensible as you can conjure.

Remember as you negotiate, your mental perception controls what is negative and that which is positive. Thus, if you control the perception of negativity during negotiations and focus on the outcome you seek, you can frame and control the flow of a negotiation. Once you become adept at doing so, you’ll begin to view perceived negativity in a new light. You may even come to appreciate and seek perceived negative situations in negotiations, because you’ll know how to use such situations to assist you in your efforts… and everything will be right with the world.

The Negotiation Tips Are…

· When negotiating, as in all phases of life, negativity begins in your mind. During negotiations, when accessing perceived negative situations, give thought to the benefits they could conceal. By doing so, you may surprise yourself by uncovering a diamond that first appeared to be coal.

· When you negotiate and you’re beset by negativity, display an even disposition. Don’t bemoan negativity to the degree that you allow it to take you ‘off your game’. As a cliché advises, ‘never let them see you sweat’.

· In a negotiation, you reach major milestones by achieving mile-pebbles. Be persistent in your attempts to achieve the goal of your negotiation and don’t be dismayed by negativity.