Do you have a multi-cultural audience?
I must admit when my trusted Social Media Manager Nicky Jesse told me she was celebrating her birthday with “Bubbles and Biscuits” I was a bit concerned. In my culture “bubbles” refer to bubbles sticks that contain soap and water and are blown through with human breath and if you are lucky the bubbles you create land on a solid surface that ends in glee for the children. “Biscuits” are these awful white doughy things that typically present themselves around Thanksgiving and are certainly no friend to your gut health.
During the conversation my mind was solemnly focused on the fact that the AMAZING Nicola was going to be blowing soap bubbles and eating awful food on her BIRTHDAY. I felt absolutely mortified that anyone should celebrate their adult birthday, complete with girlfriends, in this manner. My mind immediately started to devise ways I might increase her salary so she might afford a proper birthday holiday.
Just before the end of the conversation with Nicky my multi-cultural brain asks: “Nicky I love the term Bubbles and Biscuits but what exactly do you mean by those terms?” She says: Well my girlfriends and I will be drinking “bubbles” i.e. Champagne and eating “cheese and biscuits” i.e. gourmet cheese and crackers that are like cookies to Americans .
Whew! I was actually quite relieved to know Nicky was NOT going to spend her birthday with soap and refined white flour because her salary was too low.
When you are presenting to multi-cultural audiences please be aware there may be significant differences in the use of certain linguistic terms. You would be well suited to flesh out these terms in advance. You may wish to consider accepting impromptu questions from the audience via chat during the live presentation to further define the use of certain terminology.
Most presenters these days; team leaders, executive leaders, virtual mangers, etc.; are tasked with presenting in American English. If American English is your L2 or L3 you may wish to consider coaching. We have coached and/or trained presentation and communication skills in 32 countries. There are definitely cultural differences that should be taken into consideration when you present.
First, gather as much information as you can about your audience. If you have zero information (and are not told otherwise) it is safe to imagine they are speaking American English if you are presenting in a U.S. driven time zone. The entire globe utilizes American English as the standard language unless another is specified.
Next, do your best to build a presentation that is culture agnostic. Meeting the needs of many cultures is key if you are presenting globally. Speaking your message a little slower than usual is helpful for gaining global comprehension.
Finally, if you fumble upon a faux pas and it comes to your attention simply apologize, make light of it, giggle, if appropriate. However, do not hover on the mistake. Chances are your audience will not be mindful of an error if you are an engaging speaker!