Speeches for an international audience

Do you get the chance to speak in front of an audience that is made up of people whose native tongue is not yours?  If so, you may get the chance to have a  translator for your presentation.  Here is a great article from a colleague of mine, Alan Stevens, who is a media relations guru and crisis management specialist from London. He is currently speaking in Beijing, China, and has these tips for working with a translator:

If you speak regularly, there’s a good chance that at some point you will speak to an audience that doesn’t understand your language, so you may require a translator. The most common type by far is simultaneous translation, so allow me to offer you a few tips.

  • Send your slides at least a week before the event
  • Include presenter notes with the slides you send, so the translator can prepare
  • Use words on your slides (even if you normally don’t)
  • Meet the translator before your speech
  • Slow down
  • Be very careful with humour
  • Talk about global issues and brands
  • Everything will be translated, including your asides to the organiser
  • You may need access to translation during the Q&A
  • Always thank the translator. You may need them again one day
  • Also, bear in mind that you may not be able to deliver as much information as usual. It’s more important to ensure that your audience understands one point in detail rather than several points in outline.

Lastly, I always supply a text summary of my talk well in advance so that it can be translated and given to the audience as a take-away.

“This information was written by Alan Stevens, and originally appeared in “The MediaCoach”, his free weekly ezine, available at”

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