10 Tips for Going International


Are you an international speaker? Actually, this is a trick question. You most certainly are an international speaker, even if you do not deliver presentations outside of the United States. Today, audiences are more multicultural than ever, regardless of their locale. Your clients assume you are well versed in how to illustrate inclusiveness in your presentations. Your extra efforts help demonstrate your ability to focus on the audience’s needs, instead of focusing only on the content being delivered. Here are 10 ways to endear yourself to audiences in your home country, and they are especially effective for international speaking.

  1.  Invite your audience members to use their mobile devices. Provide a hashtag for the event and your Twitter handle. This honors your tech-savvy attendees and the Millennials, who are going to do it anyway. Don’t make them hide while texting.
  2. Get permission to use photos of well-known members of the organization.
  3. Use action shots of audience members in your slide deck. Many years ago, past NSA president Michael McKinley, CSP, CPAE, shared this idea. With today’s technology it is easy and quick to do. Most people love to see themselves on the screen.
  4. If you are unsure if a joke will be well received because of a key word or two, don’t tell it.
  5. Use quotations from a diversity of people. They do not need to only be dead men! Use quotations from unexpected sources, like Dolly Pardon, Jay-Z, or your grandchild.
  6. Review the city’s chamber of commerce website and use applicable information related to your topic.
  7. Use your speaker association website and the Global Speakers Federation website to find speakers who live in the locale of your event. Contact them to learn about current events and other interesting information you could incorporate into your presentation. Ask them about the do’s and don’ts.
  8. Learn a few words in the most popular language, as well as the one sometimes overlooked. When speaking at a CAPS convention, I spoke in English but also used a little French, even though we were not in Montreal where it would have been expected.
  9. Read the headlines of local newspapers online. Use the names of key sports figures and know what sport season it is. Internationally, be sure to use the correct terms; for example, football instead of soccer.
  10. Never make fun of the “locals.” New York audiences do not think New York jokes are funny unless they are telling them. The same principle holds true around the world. When you review your presentation for content, flow and typos, also be sure to review all photos, quotations and anecdotes from a diversity standpoint. Are there men and women representing different ages and ethnic groups? Your meeting planner and audience will notice these subtleties. They are not expecting you to be a diversity expert, but they expect you to care about your audience.
Lenora Billings-Harris

Lenora Billings-Harris

International Speaker, Diversity and Inclusion Expert, Author at Lenora Billings-Harris
Lenora Billings-Harris, CSP, is the president of the Global Speakers Federation, and past president of NSA. She helps organizations make diversity a competitive advantage.
Lenora Billings-Harris
Lenora Billings-Harris
Lenora Billings-Harris
Lenora Billings-Harris

Latest posts by Lenora Billings-Harris (see all)