3 Tips Great Speakers Know To Win Over An International Audience

Many speakers dream of traveling the world, speaking to diverse audiences in exotic countries and becoming internationally recognized for their work. It’s an admirable and ambitious goal — one that comes with many benefits and sacrifices, both personally and professionally. It also carries responsibilities that can often get overlooked. Whether you are speaking from the stage, or seated at a conference table, doing a few things in advance can help you succeed. 

Recently I had the honor of being the keynote speaker in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. It was the first time I’d visited the Arab country and experienced its historic and culturally-rich capital. I knew I had to be prepared. I made certain that the experience would be enjoyable for me, the audience, and my gracious host.

Here are 3 things to keep in mind if you want to be successful with an international audience. 

1. DO Speak the Audience’s Language

I don’t mean literally — although, if you can speak the local language, kudos to you. Instead, I mean: are you sensitive to national (and regional) cultural differences?

Each region within a country often has unique cultural and language nuances. When you travel beyond your own country or entertain guests from foreign lands, those differences get even greater. Being sensitive to those differences shows that you’ve done your homework — and that builds trust and goodwill with an audience.

Don’t Create Extra Work for the Audience or the Interpreters

When it comes to currencies, weight or time zones, don’t make your audience do complicated conversions. Do it for them. For instance, I’ve given presentations in the United Kingdom where the sales examples I use are illustrated in pound sterling instead of dollars. By doing that currency conversion for them, audience members can just listen and process what I’m saying rather than be distracted doing mental math.

If you don’t actually speak the local language, try to tailor your presentation to suit the needs of translators. Here’s what I mean: recently, I gave a talk in Quebec City where the local language is French. There were two interpreters, a man and a woman, who were translating from English to French for audience members listening on small headphones. Aside from secretly wondering if my baritone voice was being translated by the female interpreter, I made sure to speak slowly and articulate my words so the translators had time to translate accurately. I also made sure I didn’t use any U.S.-specific references or colloquialisms that would confuse my Canadian audience. In addition, to ensure key phrases and concepts were properly translated, I met with the interpreters in advance so I could explain to them what I wanted the audience to understand. I also repeated key points throughout my talk.

2. DO Check Your Materials In Advance

Before heading to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, I wanted to make sure I was sensitive to the country’s social norms. I reviewed my materials with a critical eye to remove any content that could possibly be viewed as offensive. As a result, I eliminated a question about wine in one of my exercises because Saudi Arabia culture does not allow for consumption of alcohol. Asking participants how much they liked wine would have been inappropriate.

Don’t Use Polarizing Or Obscure Examples 

Whenever possible, use local examples. A Los Angeles example might be as irrelevant to a Riyadh audience as a Quebec example would be to an audience in London.

Avoid politics or religion unless you look in the mirror and discover that you are either an elected official or clergy. If you want to polarize an audience, there’s no better way to do it than bringing up controversial or socially unacceptable subjects.

3. DO dress appropriately

Just because the locals wear robes or headdresses, doesn’t mean that you should. But you do have to respect the local dress norms. Foreign women visiting Saudi Arabia, for instance, are expected to dress modestly by covering their heads, arms and legs. Similarly, men are not to wear short-sleeve shirts or shorts.

Don’t Go To Extremes

But that doesn’t mean you should go to extremes, like Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who looked painfully out-of-place dressed in Indian garments on a recent trip to India. If I had shown up in Riyadh wearing white robes and a flowing Keffiyeh, the local head covering, I would have looked painfully out of place too. Instead, I packed slacks and long-sleeve shirts.

Conclusion

So, whether you’re traveling to Toronto, Canada or Cebu City, Philippines it’s important you do your homework on what is (and isn’t) acceptable to the local populace. And remember: don’t go overboard to try to fit in when you’re a guest in another country. Be respectful, and ultimately be yourself.

3 Tips Great Speakers Know To Win Over An International Audience

Many speakers dream of traveling the world, speaking to diverse audiences in exotic countries and becoming internationally recognized for their work. It’s an admirable and ambitious goal — one that comes with many benefits and sacrifices, both personally and professionally. It also carries responsibilities that can often get overlooked. Whether you are speaking from the stage, or seated at a conference table, doing a few things in advance can help you succeed. 

Recently I had the honor of being the keynote speaker in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. It was the first time I’d visited the Arab country and experienced its historic and culturally-rich capital. I knew I had to be prepared. I made certain that the experience would be enjoyable for me, the audience, and my gracious host.

Here are 3 things to keep in mind if you want to be successful with an international audience. 

1. DO Speak the Audience’s Language

I don’t mean literally — although, if you can speak the local language, kudos to you. Instead, I mean: are you sensitive to national (and regional) cultural differences?

Each region within a country often has unique cultural and language nuances. When you travel beyond your own country or entertain guests from foreign lands, those differences get even greater. Being sensitive to those differences shows that you’ve done your homework — and that builds trust and goodwill with an audience.

Don’t Create Extra Work for the Audience or the Interpreters

When it comes to currencies, weight or time zones, don’t make your audience do complicated conversions. Do it for them. For instance, I’ve given presentations in the United Kingdom where the sales examples I use are illustrated in pound sterling instead of dollars. By doing that currency conversion for them, audience members can just listen and process what I’m saying rather than be distracted doing mental math.

If you don’t actually speak the local language, try to tailor your presentation to suit the needs of translators. Here’s what I mean: recently, I gave a talk in Quebec City where the local language is French. There were two interpreters, a man and a woman, who were translating from English to French for audience members listening on small headphones. Aside from secretly wondering if my baritone voice was being translated by the female interpreter, I made sure to speak slowly and articulate my words so the translators had time to translate accurately. I also made sure I didn’t use any U.S.-specific references or colloquialisms that would confuse my Canadian audience. In addition, to ensure key phrases and concepts were properly translated, I met with the interpreters in advance so I could explain to them what I wanted the audience to understand. I also repeated key points throughout my talk.

2. DO Check Your Materials In Advance

Before heading to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, I wanted to make sure I was sensitive to the country’s social norms. I reviewed my materials with a critical eye to remove any content that could possibly be viewed as offensive. As a result, I eliminated a question about wine in one of my exercises because Saudi Arabia culture does not allow for consumption of alcohol. Asking participants how much they liked wine would have been inappropriate.

Don’t Use Polarizing Or Obscure Examples 

Whenever possible, use local examples. A Los Angeles example might be as irrelevant to a Riyadh audience as a Quebec example would be to an audience in London.

Avoid politics or religion unless you look in the mirror and discover that you are either an elected official or clergy. If you want to polarize an audience, there’s no better way to do it than bringing up controversial or socially unacceptable subjects.

3. DO dress appropriately

Just because the locals wear robes or headdresses, doesn’t mean that you should. But you do have to respect the local dress norms. Foreign women visiting Saudi Arabia, for instance, are expected to dress modestly by covering their heads, arms and legs. Similarly, men are not to wear short-sleeve shirts or shorts.

Don’t Go To Extremes

But that doesn’t mean you should go to extremes, like Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who looked painfully out-of-place dressed in Indian garments on a recent trip to India. If I had shown up in Riyadh wearing white robes and a flowing Keffiyeh, the local head covering, I would have looked painfully out of place too. Instead, I packed slacks and long-sleeve shirts.

Conclusion

So, whether you’re traveling to Toronto, Canada or Cebu City, Philippines it’s important you do your homework on what is (and isn’t) acceptable to the local populace. And remember: don’t go overboard to try to fit in when you’re a guest in another country. Be respectful, and ultimately be yourself.

How to Hook Your Audience Within the First 60 Seconds

How you open and close your presentation decides everything. 

Nothing matters more for effectiveness.

The internet is full of great ideas for how to open and how to close speeches. You’ll be ahead of most speakers if you can just avoid the most common error

But in this first of two blog posts on openings and closings, I’d like to focus on a more specific question: how to choose an opening and closing, rather than which one to choose.

The “how” question is vital, because everything about your speech rides on your ability to mesmerize the audience from the first nanosecond to the last. To do that, we need to first know what’s at stake, and then I’ll share the secrets of compelling intros and outros.

What’s at Stake? The Audience

Without a killer set of first lines and last lines, your speech is over before it’s started. Here’s why: A good opening earns your audience. A good closing moves your audience

Without an audience, no one listens. Without movement, nothing changes. Both are required of any great presentation.

Let’s take the opening first. You will gain or lose your audience’s trust and attention from the very moment you start speaking (in fact, from the very moment you step on stage.)

How will you earn that trust and attention? By giving them what they want: a performance.

The Performance

Every person sitting in that audience, whether they know it or not, wants you to thrill them. That’s as true for a boardroom presentation as it is for the fullest TEDx crowd. Your audience wants you to grab them and take them somewhere they’ve never been before.

Do you think they’ll take that journey with you if all the excitement you can muster is “Um, thanks for being here? I’m not really a public speaker, but Frank over there–wave Frank–asked me to say a few words at the last minute, so here goes…”?

No way. 

See, it’s not the type of opening and closing that matter. This confuses many speakers. It’s instead the force that gets communicated by your opening and closing that matters, whatever type is chosen.

Let’s look at that force in more detail.

Earning the Audience

The introduction to your speech has one goal: to persuade the audience to give you their most precious and scarcest resources–their time and attention–for the next many minutes.

The intro doesn’t need to solve world peace or sound like Shakespeare. It needs to convince your listeners that you’re someone worth listening to.

There is an infinite number of options: a quotation, a deep question, a prop. One that never fails is “I’d like to tell you a story.” 

Who doesn’t want to be told a story?

In fact, almost every opening should have a story, either implicitly or explicitly, because every good speech has at least one story.

How did Steve Jobs open his historic Commencement Address at Stanford in 2005?

“Truth be told, I never graduated from college, and this is the closest I’ve ever gotten to a college graduation. Today, I want to tell you three stories from my life. That’s it, no big deal–just three stories. The first story…”

And just like that, we’re hooked.

Because we know who Jobs is, and because we now know he’s got three stories for us, if we get anything less, we’ll feel cheated. We want them all. 

He’s earned our time and attention.

Which Forms of Opening Works Best

Clients often ask our speechwriters at Moxie a seemingly simple question, hoping there’s a right answer: “How should I open the speech?”

Speech writing is an art, not a science. In all art–and I learned this early in my acting career–the only true answer to the question “what should I choose?” is “whatever works!”

So experiment. See what works for your setting and message. Maybe it’s a song lyric. Maybe a poem. Maybe a shocking statistic from your latest white paper. Try them all out on friends and find what’s effective.

You’ll know you’ve got it when the audience is ready for more; when they’ve decided your message makes it worth sticking around.

The key to a killer opening, then, is this: make it worthy of your audience, so that they know it’s worth their time.

After that, they’re all yours.

How to Hook Your Audience Within the First 60 Seconds

How you open and close your presentation decides everything. 

Nothing matters more for effectiveness.

The internet is full of great ideas for how to open and how to close speeches. You’ll be ahead of most speakers if you can just avoid the most common error

But in this first of two blog posts on openings and closings, I’d like to focus on a more specific question: how to choose an opening and closing, rather than which one to choose.

The “how” question is vital, because everything about your speech rides on your ability to mesmerize the audience from the first nanosecond to the last. To do that, we need to first know what’s at stake, and then I’ll share the secrets of compelling intros and outros.

What’s at Stake? The Audience

Without a killer set of first lines and last lines, your speech is over before it’s started. Here’s why: A good opening earns your audience. A good closing moves your audience

Without an audience, no one listens. Without movement, nothing changes. Both are required of any great presentation.

Let’s take the opening first. You will gain or lose your audience’s trust and attention from the very moment you start speaking (in fact, from the very moment you step on stage.)

How will you earn that trust and attention? By giving them what they want: a performance.

The Performance

Every person sitting in that audience, whether they know it or not, wants you to thrill them. That’s as true for a boardroom presentation as it is for the fullest TEDx crowd. Your audience wants you to grab them and take them somewhere they’ve never been before.

Do you think they’ll take that journey with you if all the excitement you can muster is “Um, thanks for being here? I’m not really a public speaker, but Frank over there–wave Frank–asked me to say a few words at the last minute, so here goes…”?

No way. 

See, it’s not the type of opening and closing that matter. This confuses many speakers. It’s instead the force that gets communicated by your opening and closing that matters, whatever type is chosen.

Let’s look at that force in more detail.

Earning the Audience

The introduction to your speech has one goal: to persuade the audience to give you their most precious and scarcest resources–their time and attention–for the next many minutes.

The intro doesn’t need to solve world peace or sound like Shakespeare. It needs to convince your listeners that you’re someone worth listening to.

There is an infinite number of options: a quotation, a deep question, a prop. One that never fails is “I’d like to tell you a story.” 

Who doesn’t want to be told a story?

In fact, almost every opening should have a story, either implicitly or explicitly, because every good speech has at least one story.

How did Steve Jobs open his historic Commencement Address at Stanford in 2005?

“Truth be told, I never graduated from college, and this is the closest I’ve ever gotten to a college graduation. Today, I want to tell you three stories from my life. That’s it, no big deal–just three stories. The first story…”

And just like that, we’re hooked.

Because we know who Jobs is, and because we now know he’s got three stories for us, if we get anything less, we’ll feel cheated. We want them all. 

He’s earned our time and attention.

Which Forms of Opening Works Best

Clients often ask our speechwriters at Moxie a seemingly simple question, hoping there’s a right answer: “How should I open the speech?”

Speech writing is an art, not a science. In all art–and I learned this early in my acting career–the only true answer to the question “what should I choose?” is “whatever works!”

So experiment. See what works for your setting and message. Maybe it’s a song lyric. Maybe a poem. Maybe a shocking statistic from your latest white paper. Try them all out on friends and find what’s effective.

You’ll know you’ve got it when the audience is ready for more; when they’ve decided your message makes it worth sticking around.

The key to a killer opening, then, is this: make it worthy of your audience, so that they know it’s worth their time.

After that, they’re all yours.

8 Simple Ways to Become a More Impressive Public Speaker

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CREDIT: Getty Images

As a television anchor, I’m used to being in front of a camera. What I’m not used to is speaking to a room full of blinking, live human beings. It’s one thing to stare into a camera lens; it’s quite another to feel the collective breath and energy of a banquet hall and hope you don’t fall flat.

You don’t have to be 6’7″ or run around with boundless energy to stand out to an audience (think the public speaking greats like Tony Robbins and Gary Vaynerchuk). What I believe helps me connect with an audience is authentic content. I like to know my audience and then I spend hours researching topics that I think challenge and appeal to them. Being able to command a room from one singular point on stage means you have to know what your listeners are there to hear and to elicit emotions in them.

The leaders below have given many great presentations in their time. Here are a few of their tips below to captivate an audience:

  1. Preparation. “When it comes to speaking, the three laws are preparation, preparation and preparation,” says Richard Haass, the President of the Council on Foreign Relations. The trick to is to prepare so much that by the time you stand up onstage it almost seems off the cuff. The best presentations are the ones that feel like the speaker is talking casually to you, as if he or she had made this all up along the way. “What you’ve got to do is prepare in a way that then it looks natural and effortless,” Haass says.
  2. Bullet points. Connecting with an audience is extremely difficult when you are reading off a sheet of paper. Bullet points are a great way to build up a natural rapport with the people in front of you. They also keep you on a natural track and “story arc.” Jack Welch explained why he shies away from a typed-out speech. “What I wanted to do was show… the passion, how much I cared about it and my job was to turn them on to a few key points.”
  3. Engage the audience quickly. “You have to do something in the first couple of seconds to engage them,” says Mitch Roschelle. The former standup comedian says jokes go a long way in convincing the audience to climb aboard and hear you out. The PwC Partner and Business Development Leader has some zingers that he uses to “try to engage the audience as quickly as I can to make them part of the conversation. So then I really feel like I’m talking to them, as opposed to talking at them.”
  4. Tell a story. Storytelling is one of the most effective ways you can communicate with your own audience. Stories command the person to listen from the beginning to the end and creates a sense of trust because of the authentic connection. As Mindy Grossman, Weight Watchers International CEO, says: “People are going to remember how you made them feel.” (Now ain’t that the truth!)
  5. Enjoy it (even if you’re nervous as heck). Nothing is more painful for an audience than watching someone struggle on stage. Even if you aren’t enjoying giving your presentation, at least try to pretend that you are. Who knows, you might even kid yourself into having a good time. Thrive Global CEO Arianna Huffington says “enjoying it makes a difference, because you’re really present, and you have a real, sometimes magical communication with your audience.”
  6. It’s not about you. Every audience member wants to feel special and your job onstage is to help make the audience feel that it’s an honor to speak to them. As the President of High Point University Nido Qubein points out: “A speech is never about the speaker, the presentation is about the audience.” No matter whether someone is seated in row 1 or row 55, every audience member wants to feel like he or she is being spoken to individually. Everyone is “in the room” so to speak–they’re all in this together for the next 45 minutes of your speech.
  7. Authenticity. It’s sometimes difficult to come across as completely yourself in a presentation. No matter what, speaking onstage to hundreds of people is not something most people do in their daily lives. Richard Socarides, Head of Public Affairs at GLG, addresses this problem by approaching a presentation this way: “I think of myself as just having a conversation with the person who’s sitting across from me. And what would I say to that person authentically if we were having lunch, or having coffee, or just meeting for the first time.”
  8. Be adaptive. The worst presentations are those that plow on regardless of how the audience is reacting. You can’t bow to every whim of the audience, but if something appears to really resonate with listeners, follow it through. As Andrew Yang, the Founder of Venture for America, recommends: “You have to engage with people; you need to ask questions…you need to let them know that what you are doing is just for them, and you’re genuinely going to change course depending upon what they do or what they ask or what they think.”

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

Published on: Mar 6, 2018





Why Women Aren’t Giving Enough Speeches (and What We Can Do About It)

It was moments before I was to speak for 450 executives and I could tell the woman who planned the meeting was perhaps more nervous than I was. “The last time we had a woman speak for this event I got a lot of negative feedback about her,” she said. “You’re the first woman we’ve had back and people are pretty skeptical.”

You might think a comment like that, right before giving a 90 minute presentation, would throw me off. And it might have, except I already knew that’s what I was up against.

Just as there are gender gaps in business, the gap exists at the podium as well. Whether at internal meetings or external conferences, there are far more men presenting than there are women. And because the front of the room is a position of power, women’s absence is a problem.

With movements like #MeToo and events like the Women’s March changing the conversation about women’s rights, now is the time to have more women to get in front of the room. The good news? We’re seeing some progress, especially in the tech industry.

The 50/50 Pledge is an organization working to, “showcase an equal share of men’s and women’s voices at the top technology industry conferences.” Will Critchlow, Founder and CEO of Distilled, an online marketing agency that hosts events on both US coasts and in the UK. Their team, who is dedicated to getting powerful women on stage, noticed a trend with inbound requests to speak — they skewed heavily male. “The biggest thing for us is to go looking for the absolute best speakers we can find — especially if they aren’t those who will naturally put themselves forward,” Critchlow said. 

Initiatives like the 50/50 Pledge are one way to overcome the Catch-22 of women in presenter roles; to normalize female presenters for audiences and other women who may be watching. And while the tech industry is leading the pack, here are three ways you can make more women heard.

It Starts With the Women

Ladies, the change starts with you. As women, it is our job to put ourselves in front of the room. Statistics show that women are less likely to have confidence in their worth and ability. A study from Bain and Company found that women have only 13 percent confidence that they will reach top management. We need to change that conversation.

If you’re a woman and you have an idea or worked really hard on a project, put yourself forward. Apply to speak at or present for events, whether it’s within your company, or outside industry events.This is your time to shine. No one is going to do it for you. Do it for yourself.

Implement Your Own 50/50 Rule

We do things the way we always do them. The only way to break out of that mold is to be intentional and do things differently. If you’re a business leader, put systems in place within your company to foster voices that may otherwise be overlooked and elevate them.

Each time it’s time to designate someone to present on behalf of a team or your company, take a look back at the previous five presentations. Who spoke? If it’s mostly men, insist a woman delivers the next one.

Prepare Your People for Speaking Excellence

I recently spoke for a prominent tech conference; one that is committed to gender equality on their stage. After the four day event concluded I received a note that I was the only woman in history of the event to receive the highest ranks.

Let me be clear… I didn’t get the highest ranks because I “speak like a girl.” I did well because I work very hard on my stagecraft and have decades of experience speaking in front of people.

Like with anything, to be really good requires practice. Don’t put someone in front just because they’re a woman. It should also be because they’re prepared, skilled, and great at their job. Implement a training program or boot camp that provides opportunities for people to get better at public speaking–so when a woman does get a chance, she’s good.

7 Words Confident People Don’t Have in Their Vocabulary

When we become anxious, we begin to use words that don’t do a great job at hiding those feelings. It’s an unfortunate thing that happens — I mean, who wants their audience to validate that we’re nervous when we’re trying to act cool and confident?

Whether it’s a speech or a one-on-one meeting, it’s normal to feel uncomfortable with silence between our words, therefore using filler words to keep the conversation flowing. This ultimately ends up just making your listener hyperaware that you are either lying, uncomfortable, or not well-versed, all of which we know are untrue.

Fortunately, you can learn exactly what those keywords are so that you can fast track your way to sounding — and ultimately, feeling — much more in control of your speech.

1. Really

When your listener tells a story or explains a situation, refrain from responding with, “really?”.

This response makes it sound like you are questioning your counterpart’s truth, which can be frustrating if they have just confided in you. If you do need dig deeper, try saying, “Tell me more”, or “What happened next?”, or just letting them finish out their monologue.

2. Just

Saying “just” undermines the importance of what you need to say or what you are stating.

Take this example: “This is just a project I’m working on” vs. “This is the project I’m working on”. The first saying reduces the effect and magnitude of your capabilities.  

3. So

It’s a common word filler that many of us use, but saying “so” too often ignites the feeling that you are being passive about making your next point or reaching a conclusion. Instead of starting a sentence with “so”, take it out altogether. It will feel much cleaner and stronger.

4. Basically

This one makes your listener feel like they are, well, basic, when they are not. It can be annoying if you’re in a professional setting and you supersede an explanation to your colleague with “basically”. Instead, just say what you have to say because what’s basic to you may not be basic to your listener.

5. Obviously

This one is the same concept as “basically”. Hearing the word “obviously” undermines the listener they’ll end up not listening.

6. You Know?

I understand where this one came from. It derived from the speaker wanting to relate to their listener, but when your listener doesn’t know what you’re talking about, it gets awkward. Say what you need to say and then let them respond appropriately.

7. Typically/Usually

This is fine to say if you’re explaining a usual behavior, but not fine to say if it’s to describe what you do best. If you’re making a pitch to an investor about your company, don’t say, “We typically see people get excited about this feature.” Instead, own up to the users that love your product and say, “People get extremely excited about this feature.”

At the end of the day, it’ll be hard to completely nix certain words out of your vocabulary, but remember that your goal is to sound confident and be relatable to your listener. Reducing use of these words will help you connect with yourself and your audience much better.