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Mastering Japanese Presentation Phrases: How to Impress Your Audience
Have you ever needed to give a presentation in Japanese and felt a bit overwhelmed with the language and cultural nuances? Whether you’re a student, a business professional, or simply someone interested in sharing ideas in Japanese, mastering presentation phrases is essential. In this blog, we’ll guide you through some useful Japanese presentation phrases to help you deliver a successful and engaging presentation.
A Quick Jump To…
Introduction, transition phrases, providing data and evidence, expressing agreement and disagreement, concluding your presentation, handling questions, kind reminders: cultural considerations.
- Tutorial Video
A well-crafted introduction sets the stage for a successful presentation. Here are some Japanese phrases to get you started:
- こんにちは、皆さん (Kon’nichiwa, minasan) – Hello, everyone.
- 私は[Your Name]と申します ( Watashi wa [Your name] tomōshimasu) – I am [Your Name].
- このプレゼンテーションでは… (Kono purezenteeshon de wa…) – In this presentation…
- 最初に (Saisho ni) – First of all.
- まず、[Topic]について話しします (Mazu, [Topic] ni tsuite hanashishimasu) – First, I will talk about [Topic].
Smooth transitions are essential to keep your audience engaged. Here are some phrases to help you transition from one point to another:
- 次に移ります (Tsugi ni utsurimasu) – Let’s move on to the next point.
- それでは、[Next Point]について話しましょう (Soredewa, [Next Point] ni tsuite hanashimashou) – Now, let’s talk about [Next Point].
- この点に関して (Kono ten ni kanshite) – Regarding this point.
To support your claims and arguments, it’s crucial to present data and evidence effectively. Use these phrases:
- データにより(Dēta ni yori) – According to the data.
- これにより、[Your Point]が明らかになります (Kore ni yori, [Your Point] ga akiraka ni narimasu) – This makes it clear that [Your Point].
- 例を挙げましょう (Rei o agemashou) – Let’s give an example.
- これは統計的に示されています (Kore wa tōkei-teki ni shimesa rete imasu) – This is statistically demonstrated.
In discussions and presentations, you may need to agree or disagree with other points. Here are some phrases for these situations:
- 私は[Your Opinion]に賛成です (Watashi wa [Your Opinion] ni sanseidesu) – I agree with [Your Opinion].
- 私は[Opposite Opinion]とは異なります (Watashi wa [Opposite Opinion] to wa kotonarimasu) – I disagree with [Opposite Opinion].
- [Name]さんの意見と同じです ([Name]-san no iken to onajidesu) – I agree with [Name]’s opinion.
A strong conclusion is vital to leave a lasting impression. Try these phrases:
- 最後に、まとめますと (Saigo ni, matomemasuto) – In conclusion, to sum up.
- 皆さん、なにか質問がございますか (Minasan, nanika shitsumon ga gozaimasu ka) – Does anyone have any questions?
Prepare for questions and engage with your audience effectively:
- はい、どんな質問でも結構です (Hai, don’na shitsumon demo kekkōdesu) – Yes, I’ll take any questions.
- 非常に大事な質問ですね (Hijō ni daijina shitsumondesu ne) – That’s a very important question.
Understanding Japanese cultural nuances can enhance your presentation:
- 謙譲語を使用する (Kensetsu o shiyō suru) – Use humble language.
- 直接的な表現を避ける (Chokusetsutekina hyōgen o yokeru) – Avoid direct expressions.
- 敬語を使う ( Keigo o tsukau) – Use respectful language.
Incorporate these Japanese presentation phrases into your next speech to impress your audience and effectively convey your message. Practice makes perfect, so don’t hesitate to rehearse your presentation in Japanese to boost your confidence. Good luck with your future presentations!
Remember, language learning is an ongoing journey, so keep practicing and exploring new phrases to become a proficient presenter in Japanese. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions or need further assistance. がんばって ( Ganbatte ) – Do your best!
Having Trouble Pronouncing The Phrases? Check this out.
The phrases we learned today.
Here are our flashcards that include all the Japanese presentation phrases covered in this blog. Go check it out!
You Might Be Wondering…
Are there specific cultural nuances in japanese presentations that aren't covered in the guide.
Yes, there are several cultural nuances to be aware of in Japanese presentations. For example, it’s important to use respectful language (keigo) when addressing superiors or clients. Additionally, indirect and modest language is often preferred, and avoiding direct expressions can be seen as more polite.
What are some common challenges non-native speakers face when giving presentations in Japanese, and how can they overcome them?
Non-native speakers may face challenges with pronunciation, fluency, and understanding of cultural nuances. To overcome these challenges, it’s crucial to practice speaking, seek feedback, and immerse oneself in the language and culture. Taking language courses and working with a language coach can also be beneficial.
Could you offer tips for incorporating visual aids effectively into a Japanese presentation?
When using visual aids in a Japanese presentation, keep them simple and uncluttered. Use visuals to complement your spoken words, not replace them. Ensure that any text on slides is in Japanese, and provide context for any images or charts. Rehearse your presentation with the visuals to ensure smooth integration.
How important are body language and non-verbal communication in Japanese presentations?
Body language and non-verbal communication are highly important in Japanese presentations. Maintaining good eye contact, bowing as a sign of respect, and using appropriate gestures can enhance your communication. Be aware of your posture and facial expressions to convey sincerity and attentiveness.
What are some advanced-level presentation phrases for those looking to take their Japanese presentation skills to the next level?
Advanced presenters can incorporate more complex language structures and idiomatic expressions. They may also use rhetorical devices and storytelling techniques to engage the audience. Additionally, mastering advanced-level phrases for agreement, disagreement, and persuasion is beneficial in conveying a more nuanced message in Japanese presentations.
Test your Japanese level!
How to Ask for the Bill in Japanese Restaurants
How to Prepare for a Business Presentation in Japanese
5月 11, 2021
In japanese, コメントはまだありません.
You just started your job in Japan, and it’s time for your first presentation – all in Japanese. Even if you don’t have trouble speaking in front of people in general or have had some practice, this can be quite a challenge. In this article, we give you some tips for acing your presentations right off the bat.
Presentation structure and style
For structure and style, presentation rules and guidelines are virtually the same as outside of Japan – there’s no need to reinvent the wheel.
A structure for a presentation is called 構成 こうせい in Japanese. There are multiple ways for structuring a presentation, such as…
- – Introduction – Main Part – Conclusion ( 序論 じょろん ・ 本論 ほんろん ・ 結論 けつろん )
- – PREP (Point 結論 けつろん – Reason 理由 りゆう – Example 例 れい ) – Point 結論 けつろん )
- – DESC (Describe 説明 せつめい – Express 表現 ひょうげん – Suggest 提案 ていあん – Consequence 結果 けっか )
Pick a structure that suits your topic and go from there. In business settings, it’s common to start with the conclusion ( 結論 けつろん ファースト), PREP style.
As for style, keep to the basics. Don’t put too much text on the slides, add graphs and pictures to visualize information, use color sparingly and with purpose … you know the drill.
Making your presentation “Japan-proof”
Aside from the universal basics, there are some points where you have to provide for cultural differences. Here are our tips.
Check with a native Japanese beforehand
The last thing you want to do is miss the topic or point of your presentation. To eliminate the risks of miscommunication, check with a Japanese senpai or your boss beforehand (ideally, the person will also be attending the meeting and is “in the know”).
Show them the structure of your presentation and explain what you want to talk about. If you’ve already made some slides, you can also ask them to do a quick Japanese check (non-standard expressions, typos). I recommend this even for people who are confident in their Japanese ability! When I got my first job in Japan, I had already passed N1 but still managed to botch some presentations because of bad preparation and lack of checks.
When you’re still new and don’t really know your co-workers, it can be hard to work up the courage to ask for advice. But there’s no need to be afraid. Most companies that hire foreigners are aware of the language barrier and are willing to assist. If you’ve entered the company as a fresh graduate (新卒), the company fully expects you to not know stuff. In your first and second year, asking for help frequently is likely to leave a positive impression than a negative one.
Make it easier for people to ask questions
Japanese people tend to be less aggressive with feedback and questioning. If you just end your presentation with “any questions?”, you run the risk of filling the room with awkward silence. To prevent this, transition into the Q&A section in a way that lowers the hurdle for asking questions. For example…
Keep your humor subtle
A typical “western” thing to do is trying to brighten up the mood and “break the ice” with some jokes. When you’re holding a presentation in Japanese, you want to be careful with this. Japanese office and business culture is rather formal, certainly more so than that of English-speaking countries.
It’s still OK to use some humor here and there. That being said, it’s best to keep it subtle and use it even more sparingly than you would when holding a presentation in English. My personal recommendation is some light Japanese wordplay, no more than 1-2 times per presentation. It lightens up the mood and is an easy way to rouse interest (“did that foreigner just make a joke in Japanese?”).
Vocabulary for your presentation
Just like with presentations anywhere else in the world, your focus should be on delivering information in a clear and easy-to-understand manner. When in doubt, fall back on general-purpose Teineigo (です・ます-Forms) instead of twisting your tongue with Keigo monstrosities.
Below, you can find some vocabulary and phrases commonly used in presentations.
Improving step by step
I still remember the uneasiness and sweat running down my neck that I felt during my first few “professional” presentations. Preparation is important, but in the end, it’s completely natural to stumble a bit at first. Your Japanese coworkers won’t expect a perfect performance on the first try. Keep asking for advice and learn from your mistakes, and before long presenting something in Japanese will become a routine task.
If you don’t like being thrown into cold water, you can train your presentation skills at a language school. Linguage Japanese Language School specializes in Japanese language education for people whose goal is to work in Japan. Located in central Shinjuku, it’s the ideal place to prepare for work in Japan. For more info, check out our feature article or click the button below to visit the school’s official website.
Linguage Japanese Language School
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Road-Map: How to Make Your Japanese Speech
Each language has own manner when making a speech. Although a Japanese speech is not an exception, it is difficult for learners to get a feel of this style. It may not be necessary to follow it correctly, but, on the other hand, if you can make your Japanese speech in this way, it would make a huge difference in the effect on the audience. In this article, you will learn how you can perfect your Japanese presentations.
Complete Map: How to make a Japanese Speech
People who are going to make a Japanese speech or presentation.
Step 1 Selection of Japanese Script Structure
- Ki-Sho-Ten-Ketsu Structure
- Jo-Ha-Kyu Structure
- Introduction-Body-Conclusion Structure
Step 2 Writing Your Japanese Script
- Imitate Great Speaker; How to Write Your Japanese Script
- The Best Length of Sentence for Your Japanese Script
- Avoid Being Monotone, the End of Japanese Sentences
- Japanese Conjunction, Informal VS. Formal
- Six Quotes from Great Leaders for Your Japanese Script
Proofread Your Japanese Script by Native Speakers
Step 3 Practicing Your Japanese Speech
- For Your Japanese Speech; Imitate Great Speakers II
- Big Key for Your Japanese Speech; 間 (Ma) Timing
With Pictures: How Japanese Body Language Works
- During a Japanese Speech, With Vs. Without Your Script
After you completed the above tips and practices, you just need to have some rehearsals. Please be confident, you have made great efforts so far.
I hope you have understood them and you are in the process of following them already. Although I have written down a lot of tips, the most important thing is just to enjoy your Japanese presentation. Yet, in order to do so, you need to practice a lot. Needless to say, the more you practice, the better you will be. Please try to do your best when preparing. What you have done will bring you to where you want to go. Good luck.
People can be divided into two groups; people who love and those who hate making a Japanese speech in public. The reason is clear. If you have confidence in your presentation, it is very likely that you will belong to the former group, if not, you will belong to the later group. Then, how can we attain such confidence? This way is also clear. If you have prepared well and practiced enough times, then it is very likely that you will have the confidence. Well, how can we accomplish it for the first time? In order to answer the question, I made this very road-map. I hope a lot of people will succeed in their Japanese presentations and come to love doing so. Thank you very much.
Author and English Editor
Author – takuya tokiwa.
Takuya is the co-founder, Project Director of Wasabi and a serial entrepreneur in the education field. He is utilizing all of his knowledge and experiences for innovating Japanese learning.
English Editor – Reka, Blue Kangaroo
Reka has been working as a native English teacher for the past 4 years and teaching students of all ages, background and ability, from 8-88 years of age, from absolute beginner to fluent. If you have any inquiry related English, please visit her website .
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Meetings And Presentations In Japan
Before a meeting with Japanese business partners, you should coordinate an agenda. Do this as early as possible, so that your partners have enough time for nemawashi . (Pronounce: Nemawoshi)
Nemawashi refers to the practice of clarifying all possible questions internally with all persons or groups concerned in advance in order to make more rapid progress in subsequent meetings. The goal is to build consensus. Any necessary conversations take place face to face. The process can therefore take some time. If you do not give your Japanese business partners enough time for nemawashi , you run the risk of upsets and misunderstandings.
In Japan, meetings are not usually held to make decisions, but only to prepare for them. Adjust your expectations in advance if necessary. Also, it is crucial to talk to business partners on a comparable hierarchical level. If you communicate with Japanese people at a lower hierarchical level than yourself, you will lose respect. So make sure that the partners present at a meeting are at a hierarchical level that is equivalent to yours.
The highest-ranking representative will enter the conference room first, followed by their team. Seating arrangements continue along hierarchical lines. When a foreign delegation visits a Japanese company, both delegations sit opposite each other on the long sides of a conference table. The respective bosses sit in the middle and the other participants will be placed on both sides in descending hierarchical order.
Who is talking?
High-ranking Western company representatives tend to hold meetings actively and talk a lot. High-ranking Japanese, on the other hand, primarily let their subordinates talk and quietly observe the behaviour of the participants during the course of the meeting.
However, at the beginning of an important meeting, the highest-ranking Japanese representative in his role as host will speak some welcoming words or give a short opening speech. The highest-ranking foreign guest should formally reply to the welcoming words in a very short speech.
The respective delegation leaders will then introduce their staff in hierarchical order with their names, titles and functions and state the reason for their presence. If necessary, a few additional personal words will be spoken, such as: “He is our best soccer player in the company team.” A more casual introduction by the individual employees themselves is rather inappropriate in Japan.
In Japan, a holistic approach is used in meetings, i.e. agenda points are not necessarily worked through one after the other. If it is difficult to reach an agreement on a topic, people temporarily switch to another, easier negotiating point. After this “cooling off phase,” you can return to where you left off.
Communication In Japan
The Japanese presentation style is inductive, which means that the most important thing comes at the end. Foreign businesspeople, on the other hand, are quite often used to deductive presentations. That is, they expect the core statement right at the beginning. This inductive style of a presentation, therefore, comes across as lengthy and not target-oriented. Even if you get impatient with a Japanese presentation, please do not interrupt.
If you give a presentation in English in front of a Japanese audience, you should speak slowly and clearly. Avoid terms and in-house terminologies that might not be understood. Be aware that constant polite nodding does not necessarily mean approval, but only that you are being listened to. Also take plenty of time for explanations and subsequent questions.
You should prepare your handouts at least in English. If you want to earn brownie points, you can also create and distribute a Japanese version.
Japanese listeners often talk to each other, e.g. to coordinate their positions internally. It’s best if you just ignore this. The Japanese just believe that foreign interlocutors do not understand the whispering in Japanese and thus do not find it disturbing.
Be prepared that cell phones often ring in meetings and appear to have priority.
It is also not unusual for a Japanese listener to nod off during a meeting with a lot of participants. Don’t get irritated by that! And please: Avoid blowing your nose. If you need to, you better sniff it up than blow your nose in public.
Food breaks and the quality of food are very important in Japan. Meetings are therefore often interrupted for a joint business lunch. For Japanese business partners, sandwiches are not an alternative to lunch in a restaurant or canteen.
Ending a meeting
At the end of a meeting, a high-ranking Japanese person who has held themselves in the background so far will often summarize the contents of the meeting and praise the good cooperation, even if there has been disagreement on some points just before.
Mutual words of appreciation and short closing speeches follow the same pattern as the opening speeches.
A summary of the results at the end of a meeting, preferably in the form of a written memo, provides an opportunity to identify and clarify different views or misunderstandings. Be careful, however, not to list a whole lot of problems or unresolved issues. This will disturb harmony.
Excerpt from Business Culture Japan Compact by Gerd Schneider. Courtesy of Conbook Verlag
Visitors From Japan
Business Meals And After Work In Japan
Negotiations In Japan
Body language In Japan
First Business Meeting In Japan
How to close deals in any foreign market.
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Better student presentations using the pecha kucha format.
Dec. 9, 2020
Students Communicated Better Using Pecha Kucha
How to implement pecha kucha in your classroom.
- Go to the “Transitions” tab.
- Set the “Duration” at 00.01 so the transition time between slides is less than one second.
- Uncheck “On Mouse Click” and check “After.”
- In the window next to “After,” enter 20 seconds.
- Clicking “Apply to All."
- Communicating Science
- Curriculum Reform
Author: Min-Ken Liao, Ph.D.
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How to Give a Killer Presentation, Japanese Version
By: Chris Anderson
For more than 30 years, the TED conference series has presented enlightening talks that people enjoy watching. In this article, Anderson, TED's curator, shares five keys to great presentations: (1)…
- Length: 11 page(s)
- Publication Date: Jun 1, 2013
- Discipline: General Management
- Product #: R1306K-PDF-JPN
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For more than 30 years, the TED conference series has presented enlightening talks that people enjoy watching. In this article, Anderson, TED's curator, shares five keys to great presentations: (1) Frame your story (figure out where to start and where to end). (2) Plan your delivery (decide whether to memorize your speech word for word or develop bullet points and then rehearse it--over and over). (3) Work on stage presence (but remember that your story matters more than how you stand or whether you're visibly nervous). (4) Plan the multimedia (whatever you do, don't read from PowerPoint slides). (5) Put it together (play to your strengths and be authentic). According to Anderson, presentations rise or fall on the quality of the idea, the narrative, and the passion of the speaker. It's about substance--not style. In fact, it's fairly easy to "coach out" the problems in a talk, but there's no way to "coach in" the basic story--the presenter has to have the raw material. So if your thinking is not there yet, he advises, decline that invitation to speak. Instead, keep working until you have an idea that's worth sharing.
Jun 1, 2013
Harvard Business Review
Successful presentations to Japanese
An American firm had been asked to customize one of its products for a Japanese customer. A meeting was held where the American firm’s representative, who we will call “Sam Smith”, presented the mockup of the customization. On the customer side, three Japanese engineers and two of their American colleagues participated.
Sam gave an energetic, enthusiastic presentation, demonstrating the various bells and whistles that his firm had added to the product. Rather than using overheads, he gave verbal explanations while pointing out the key features. All the customer side participants watched intently. During the presentation, no questions were asked.
It seemed that everything had gone smoothly, since none of the participants had raised concerns about anything that Sam had mentioned. In closing, Sam asked if the group was satisfied with what they had seen. “It looks fine” answered one of the Japanese engineers.
Sam went back to the office pleased with how well things had gone. He was surprised to get a phone call the next day from one of the Americans who had attended the meeting. “After you were here,” he said, “the Japanese spent some time talking about what you had presented. They aren’t comfortable with some of the new features, and think that several things need to be reworked. Besides, there seems to have been some confusion about a few of the things you mentioned.” Sam, disappointed, wondered why none of this had come out when he was there.
Sam’s experience, a true story, illustrates several of the pitfalls of giving presentations to Japanese. Some things that Sam could have done differently include:
- Tone down the energy and slow down the pace
When we Americans get excited we tend to increase our speaking speed. This can make it difficult for Japanese to follow what is being said.
- Distribute written materials
Fancy computer-generated graphics aren’t necessary, but it is important to have written materials of some sort, even if only a simple one-page agenda. Japanese are generally far more comfortable with written English than with listening comprehension, so a written document can help them follow the conversation. Written materials can also be studied later to ensure correct understanding.
- Try to find some informal time together
Sam could have invited the customer personnel to lunch after the presentation. Often, the more relaxed setting of a meal makes Japanese more comfortable bringing up questions and concerns.
- Don’t expect an immediate answer
Another way of putting this is, any immediate comment you get is provisional. The “fine” offered by the Japanese engineer to Sam was just a pleasantry, not a real answer. In order to make a firm decision on anything, Japanese need to mull over the information and discuss it among themselves. Because such a discussion could not be held in front of an outsider like Sam, the Japanese waited until afterward. Sam should have scheduled a follow-up meeting, with the explicit purpose being to hear their formal reaction to the proposed design.
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9 Tips for High-Impact Presentations Across Cultures
Samuel had done it quite a few times before. He boarded a plane, headed halfway across the world from his corporation’s headquarters in New York City to deliver yet another presentation to a foreign audience. His expertise in his decade-long role as a business analyst at a large, worldwide corporation made him the perfect candidate to present sales leaders with the latest information on increasing sales efforts across cultures. As usual, Samuel used his long flight to reminisce about his past successes and shortcomings as a foreign presenter.
He remembered his first presentation in Hong Kong. Cross-cultural communication went well because of his meticulous planning, but he failed to send written copies of the sales tactics he would be presenting, which would have helped prepare his audience for the upcoming presentation and give them more time to prepare questions beforehand.
In Hong Kong, business people typically prefer presentations and proposals to begin in general terms before transitioning into the narrow details. Samuel’s presentation, although applicable for the audience, would have been more effective if he would have begun with more general terms, especially because once again he didn’t send his audience a formal or informal outline of his presentation beforehand.
Different Countries, Different Approaches
Samuel also reflected on his recent trip to Iraq. Before the trip, he spent weeks planning an in-depth sales-tactics presentation geared to sales leaders. Samuel’s company had recently purchased the latest video software, so he planned a cutting-edge interactive presentation for his audience in Baghdad. The audience appreciated his personal anecdotes and personable introduction, but he seemed to lose them at the end when he distributed a folder full of statistics, graphs and sales figures.
Studies have shown that people in present-day Iraq tend to appreciate more listening than reading when viewing a presentation. Strong images and relevant stories will resonate with them more than reading the latest statistics. Samuel’s interactive presentation went over well, but his conclusion, which involved the audience reviewing statistics placed before them on a handout, didn’t hold their attention as well as it could have. He watched his audience lose interest before his eyes, and he made a note to avoid handouts in any future presentation in Baghdad.
Samuel also remembered how the same handouts were highly effective in Japan, where he did a very similar presentation on the same sales tactics a month earlier. In Japanese culture, detailed written materials are appreciated, and audience members typically enjoy any kind of supporting documentation to supplement a presentation.
Gauging How to Speak to a Foreign Audience
Even the most experienced presenters face unique challenges when presenting information to audiences across cultures. It’s been said that great international speakers aren’t born. They’re made through:
- Practice and a desire to fine-tune their public-speaking skills.
- Culturally appropriate levels of confidence and passion
- Introspection, self-awareness, and sincerity.
In short, they know how to properly engage with their foreign audience.
Much can go awry during a cross-cultural presentation if you fail to plan appropriately. You must tailor your presentation to your audience, and, in order to do so, it takes a great deal of prep work. You can’t simply work with a translator or neglect meticulous research and planning before your presentation.
Avoiding Problematic Barriers
If your goal is to deliver impactful cross-cultural presentations, it’s best to consider your presentations from all angles and learn from the advice of past successful presenters. Part of your success will depend on your ability to recognize and avoid barriers to effective intercultural communication, such as:
- Language differences . Language barriers will likely play a role in your execution of a successful presentation to a foreign audience. You may work with an interpreter, but confusion may arise due to slang, dialects, or accents. Furthermore, words don’t always translate perfectly from one language to the other. The same word in one language may have different meanings when translated into different languages.
- Level of context . Low-context cultures, such as Germany, Switzerland and the United States, expect verbal messages to be explicit and direct.
High-context cultures, such as Japan and Brazil, expect less emphasis on words themselves. A “maybe” or even a “yes” may actually mean no, especially in Japan, where an outright “no” or refusal can seem rude and too blunt. People in high-context cultures place more importance on nonverbal elements of communication, such as tone of voice, eye movements, and facial expressions.
- Body language . People in one culture may take offense if you stand too close to them or too far away. For example, a Norwegian executive may feel uncomfortable and crowded if someone invades their personal space, which in their culture is a distance of up to three meters. In Saudi Arabia, the personal space requirement is much lower, and even complete strangers typically stand very close to one another to speak.
Eye contact is also a potential barrier. Those from Continental Europe, for example, are known to make more eye contact than those from Britain and the United States. Another consideration is facial expressions, such as smiling. French and Russians tend to smile less than other cultures, which can make them appear cold or unfriendly.
- Value of time . People from different cultures place different values on time. In some cultures, such as Latin America, for example, there’s less emphasis on punctuality than there is in Switzerland. In Mexico, you’d be expected to finish a conversation with a colleague, even if it made you late to a business meeting.
- Control of feelings and emotions . Certain cultures are more comfortable showing their emotions. In France and Italy, most people are fine with displaying their emotions outwardly, while people in Japan and the United Kingdom tend to keep tight control of their emotions in public. An excited speaker in Italy may speak loudly and emphatically, while those tactics may embarrass a Japanese listener.
Once you consider the possible barriers to effective communication, you should consider the best strategies for learning how to speak in front of a foreign audience.
Tips for Cross-Cultural Presentations
Presenting across cultures always requires adequate planning. Years of experience presenting to audiences in the Middle East won’t prepare you to deliver an effective presentation in China. If you’re communicating your tenth presentation on the latest sales software, but it’s your first time speaking to diverse audiences, it’s imperative that you tailor your approach to best suit your new audience.
The following tips for presenting cross-culturally will help you deliver a seamless, effective exposition.
1. Step Outside of Your Comfort Zone
You know that what is effective in one culture may not be effective in another, which is why it’s important to consider intercultural awareness as you prepare for your foreign presentation. Intercultural awareness is two-fold. It involves standing back from your own viewpoint and acknowledging your own cultural beliefs, as well as considering those of the other culture.
There are many factors that contribute to an effective presentation across cultures, but it’s important to begin by understanding your own cultural beliefs and recognizing you may need to step outside of your comfort zone as you prepare for your presentation. Once you’re aware of the similarities and differences, it becomes easier to plan an effective presentation across cultures.
For example, if you’re Japanese and preparing to present to a Portuguese audience, you may want to consider adding more personality to your presentation. It may be out of your comfort zone to show some emotion during your presentation or share a very personal story, but it will likely go over well in front of your Portuguese audience because they tend to appreciate creative, highly engaging presentations.
2. Decide If You’re Going to Use a Script
Using a script may be helpful when presenting to an international audience because it can direct you to stay focused on the precise language of your foreign presentation, especially if you’re presenting in a language other than your first.
If you’re not completely comfortable in the language, consider distributing a handout so readers can understand your message with certainty. Usually, speakers are advised to avoid reading from a script or from a screen, but in some cases — especially where a possible language barrier exists — it may be effective to offer your audience another way to comprehend the material.
There are many ways to use a script without boring your audience, such as:
- Knowing the material well . If you decide to read from a script or allow the audience to follow along using a handout or screen, don’t neglect to skim over the material as you prepare. You’re the expert, and you should exude an appropriate level of confidence as well as have the knowledge to answer possible questions about the material.
You may work with a professional writer or translator as you prepare for your presentation, but that doesn’t mean you can skip any steps in the research and preparation phase. Simply reading from your script won’t be effective. You must know the material, maintain eye contact and intonation that’s appropriate for your audience, and be prepared to answer questions.
- Personalizing your message . Using a script doesn’t have to equate to a boring, dry presentation. Eliminate any words that don’t sound like you. Inject personal stories where it makes sense to do so. Many speakers have no trouble injecting a personal touch to the beginning of their scripted speech, but then they fail to maintain their personality throughout it. Instead of sliding into a script after the introduction, aim to add your personality from the beginning to the end.
- Learning to emphasize appropriately . A monotone presentation read from a script is a sure way to bore your audience, regardless of their cultural backgrounds. The vocal variety will add dimension to your speech, especially if you’re following a script.
If you’re reading in a language other than your native language, be sure to study proper pronunciation and listen to other speakers enunciate in that language. Become aware of your own vocal patterns, so you can vary your volume, pitch, and tone in a way that’s appropriate for your target audience.
It may be beneficial to label your script, so you know when to effectively take a breath, pause to allow your audience time to process information, or stop to ask a question. You can also underline words you should emphasize as you’re reading. You can appropriately emphasize by changing your pitch or inflection, varying your pace, increasing your volume or altering your rhythm.
- Treating your script as an extended conversation . Instead of talking to your audience, aim to talk with them. When you’re reading from a script, it can seem like your presentation is forced, rigid, and lacking any personality. Using culturally-appropriate gestures, eye contact, and language, you can take your audience on a journey with you through your script, instead of simply reading to them.
3. Know What to Expect from Your Audience
Regardless of where you’re presenting, you will feed off of your audience’s energy or how you’re perceiving their reactions to your presentation. If they’re frowning back at you or don’t participate when you ask a question, it can negatively affect your confidence, and your entire presentation could suffer. It’s important to know what to expect from your audience in the context of the given culture. Audiences around the world outwardly respond to presentations in different ways, so it’s helpful if you’re aware of what to expect before you begin.
For example, if you’re presenting in Japan, the audience will likely nod their heads slightly up and down to show concentration and approval — and they may even slightly close their eyes. Rest assured you aren’t putting them to sleep; they’re showing you that they’re with you. At the same time, a Japanese audience will not likely interrupt you to ask questions or provide comments, even if you prompt them to do so.
As a general rule, applause is a universal sign of approval after you finish a presentation. However, there are other signs to look for as well, depending on where you are. In parts of Austria and Germany, if you’re presenting around a table, your audience may knock on the table to show their approval when you’ve finished. You may hear whistles of approval if you’ve done especially well in the United States, but whistling signifies disapproval in some European countries. It’s also wise to be aware that no one receives standing ovations in Australia.
4. Learn About the Local Culture
If you’re presenting to a homogenous foreign audience — meaning everyone is from the same cultural background — you should consider studying the local culture before your presentation. The following are excellent resources for discovering cultural norms and important local information:
- Recent books and travel guides . Without a clear understanding of the audience’s culture, you’re taking a risk that your presentation won’t be effective. Access resources available to you, such as recently published literature about the culture, travel guides, and websites directed to foreign travelers.
- Local news . Be aware of news and current events. You should also be able to access local news by finding the most popular domains online for the geographic region or speaking with someone who can direct you to a trustworthy local news source. Connect with someone in your organization who is familiar with the culture in which you’ll be presenting and ask for their input. Beyond the local culture, consider hot topics within the organization itself, as company culture can be equally as important as local culture.
- The CIA Factbook . While not specifically about culture, the Factbook provides information about 267 world entities, touching on topics of people, history, government, communications, transportation, and more.
- Aperian ® . An industry-leading cultural intelligence resource, Aperian offers in-depth information on more than 95 nations around the world. It provides a section on how to give a presentation in each of the 95 nations. The resource offers extensive research, interviews with experts, and guidance for conducting business successfully across cultural boundaries. The GlobeSmart ® Profile helps bridge the gaps with other cultures and colleagues.
5. Pace Yourself Appropriately
You should tailor your pace and progression to your audience’s expectations to experience positive results when delivering an intercultural presentation. Never rush through a presentation, but be aware different cultures have different preferences for receiving information.
Be mindful of language barriers as you’re presenting as well. If you’re speaking in a non-native language, slower speech will help your audience better comprehend your words. If you’re speaking in your native language, but your audience is listening in their non-native language, it’s also wise to talk slower to increase comprehension. Always give your audience time to process information that may be new to them.
Expectations are always changing, but historically there are guidelines to follow when it comes to how certain cultures prefer to process information. Although this may be changing over time, it’s safe to assume Asians prefer to more details when compared to Americans and Canadians, where audiences tend to appreciate a faster pace.
6. Modify Your Nonverbal Communication
The way you communicate nonverbally to a foreign audience is equally as important as the words you choose to use. Here are a few tips for appropriately modifying your nonverbal communication during a cross-cultural presentation:
- Be conscious of your hand gestures . A “thumbs up” is a positive signal in the United States, but it has negative connotations in the Middle East, Australia, and Greece. Similarly, gesticulating doesn’t always translate across cultures. It can add personality to a presentation in the United States, but it can be seen as rude and distracting in Japan.
- Be aware of eye contact expectations . A certain level of eye contact is important in all presentations, but the expectation is different depending on the audience’s culture. For example, Canadians, Germans, and Americans expect more eye contact than Hispanic and Japanese audiences do.
- Use an appropriate level of animation . Your body movements and facial expressions can either emphasize your presentation or undercut it. Perceptions of facial expressions vary across cultures, so a basic understanding of what’s considered appropriate in a specific setting will help you adequately prepare for your presentation. For instance, East Asians and Western Caucasians perceive happy and angry expressions differently, so it’s important to be aware of your own facial expressions.
7. Be Careful When Selecting Visuals
Your graphics should be free of any culturally inappropriate images. It’s also important to consider color because it can carry different symbolic meanings from culture to culture. For example, red is a high-energy color used as a warning or to elicit feelings of excitement, passion, or even anger in Western cultures, but it’s used as a color of mourning in South Africa. Similarly, red represents good fortune in China but can mean anger in Japan. Another example is yellow, which is the color of mourning in Myanmar (Burma), but it signifies happiness and prosperity in the Middle East.
Besides color, be sure your visual aids make appropriate use of words and symbols for the culture in which you’re presenting. For example, Asian cultures tend to prefer pictures, numbers, and symbols whereas Europeans typically favor text with logical bullet points.
8. Be Cautious in Your Use of Humor
Only use humor when you’re certain it’s appropriate. Jokes will not likely translate well between cultures. If you’re not sure if a joke will go over well, avoid it. In many cases, your attempt at humor will be lost in translation, or worse. It could be taken offensively.
Here are a few reminders when it comes to humor in a cross-cultural presentation:
- Be aware that technology can pose challenges in relation to humor . Using humor across cultures is difficult, but using humor virtually and cross-culturally is even more problematic. If you’re using cameras in a face-to-face situation, you can immediately see your audience’s reaction to your attempt at humor. If you’re giving a virtual presentation and can’t see your audience, your feedback will be limited, so it’s important to know beforehand whether your attempt at humor will be well received.
- Carefully review all graphics and texts . If you’re utilizing handouts, slides, or any media that contains written text, be sure it’s carefully reviewed for cultural appropriateness. There should be no culturally offensive reference, nor should there be any words or phrases that are lost — or become offensive — in translation. For example, the word “fanny” means different things in the United States — one’s rear end — and Britain — a female’s private parts.
- Consider the style of humor . The capacity to laugh at things is universal, but everyone is different when it comes to what they think is actually funny. There are more gray areas where culture is involved, as well. For example, irony is usually well understood in British culture, but it’s not as understood in direct-speaking cultures such as Germany, the Netherlands, and Switzerland.
Sarcasm typically goes over well in Israel and India, but it can be offensive in Latin America. Making fun of oneself is often considered humorous in the West, but may cause Asians to feel uncomfortable and empathetic. Similarly, physical humor — like slipping on a banana peel — will likely go over well in Italy or France, but not in Malaysia.
9. Utilize the Best Resources
The easy part of preparing a presentation across cultures is gathering content for the topic itself. After all, you’re the expert and you were chosen to deliver a presentation based on your knowledge and experiences. The difficult part of preparing a cross-cultural presentation is ensuring you convey that content in a culturally appropriate manner that will resonate with your audience.
Aperian, an industry-leading online cultural intelligence resource, offers advice on giving presentations for over 95 countries – among 50 other business topics.
Access the free trial of Aperian to explore on your own!
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I need some help at my "Japanese Culture" presentation
- Thread starter chengshouse
- Start date 18 Aug 2015
- 18 Aug 2015
With Google info you could talk for a week. Try looking up: Geisha government religion tea ceremony Ikebana (flower arranging) castles & temples cherry blossom viewing samurai sword making sculptured gardens kimonos onsens sumo bonsai their modern military Under "ARTICLES" up at the top , we have tons of info. We also have a section on the old art styles of Japan here.
The topic of how religion affects entertainment would, by itself, be enough to fill 20-25 minutes. And you wouldn't need to go into any discussion about food or martial arts. Think about how religion affects the west's view of entertainment, and then think about how the difference in attitudes toward religion and morality affect how Japan views entertainment. So religion > manga > anime > games could be an interesting subject. Or the written language alone is a huge topic that would provide at least 25 minutes of information. If you just throw in a bunch of themes: writing, food, language, art....etc... your discussion lacks coherence, and you just end up listing a bunch of cliched stereotypes.
Honestly, I'd pick one and stick with it. 25 minutes isn't long and I believe it's better to go into some depth on o e topic rather than shallowly touch upon many. In which one are you most interested? Your love of a topic will shine through and make the speech compelling.
- Thread starter
Majestic said: The topic of how religion affects entertainment would, by itself, be enough to fill 20-25 minutes. And you wouldn't need to go into any discussion about food or martial arts. Think about how religion affects the west's view of entertainment, and then think about how the difference in attitudes toward religion and morality affect how Japan views entertainment. So religion > manga > anime > games could be an interesting subject. Or the written language alone is a huge topic that would provide at least 25 minutes of information. If you just throw in a bunch of themes: writing, food, language, art....etc... your discussion lacks coherence, and you just end up listing a bunch of cliched stereotypes. Click to expand...
WonkoTheSane said: Honestly, I'd pick one and stick with it. 25 minutes isn't long and I believe it's better to go into some depth on o e topic rather than shallowly touch upon many. In which one are you most interested? Your love of a topic will shine through and make the speech compelling. Click to expand...
chengshouse said: What do you mean by "games"? Video games? Click to expand...
- 20 Aug 2015
If you just throw in a bunch of themes: writing, food, language, art....etc... your discussion lacks coherence, and you just end up listing a bunch of cliched stereotypes. Click to expand...
I want to provide my classmates with as much interesting various information as possible. So going off with only 1 topic wouldn't be great. Click to expand...
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How to say "Presentation skills" in Japanese.
Presentation skills, more giving presentations vocabulary in japanese, example sentences, how to say "presentation skills" in japanese and in 45 more languages., other interesting topics in japanese, ready to learn japanese, language drops is a fun, visual language learning app. learn japanese free today..
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