International Speaking

Va Bene: What the Italians Taught Me About Public Speaking

It’s been a while since you’ve heard from me. I just got back from vacation in Northern Italy. In the big cities, a lot of people speak English but in the smaller towns, it helps to speak a few words of Italian. We were in the town of Quinto, a suburb of Vicenza. While we were paying for our food, the cashier asked my husband if he spoke Italian. He shook his head and said, “No parla Italiano.

7 Tips for Speaking Internationally

It’s a global world and eventually you’ll be speaking to an international audience. At the very least, the global world has come to you. Most cities have become multicultural workplaces. I’ve spoken in Africa, the Caribbean, Europe, the Middle East, and South America and although people are the same everywhere, the way we communicate is different. Here are some tips I’ve learned along the way to be successful when speaking internationally.

1. Study the Culture. Learn the protocol to gain trust and avoid miscommunication.

Know whether you should shake hands or bow. Know the policy on gift-giving. A good book on International protocol is Kiss, Bow or Shake Hands and the new book by Jan Yager called Grow Global.

2. Meet the Translator. Will they use simultaneous or consecutive translation? Did they study British or American English? Explain all idioms in your speech. It makes a difference.

3. Speak Slowly-even more slowly than usual. When English is a second language it takes longer to process and translate into their own language.

4. Use Body Language Carefully. You can unintentionally insult the audience with certain gestures. You would never expose the sole of your shoe to an Arab audience. And the A-ok sign in the U.S. is an obscenity in Brazil.

5. Speak the Native Language. The greatest rapport builder is to say a few words in the native tongue. The best time to do this is in your greeting. When I spoke in Tanzania, I said, "Good morning. I’m happy to be here" in Kiswahili. The audience broke into applause. Little gestures have great impact.

6. Avoid Humor. Even if you’re naturally funny, it just doesn’t translate across cultural and language barriers. Stick to your message but do smile. Smiling is a universal language of good will.

7. Learn their Idioms. Don’t assume that because you’re addressing an English speaking culture that you speak the same language. You don’t. I learned this the hard way. When addressing a company in the U.K. I told them that these management skills could be used “on the job.

China Surpasses United States in the Number of Women Entrepreneurs, Says Communications Expert Diane DiResta

It's small business week. Do you know how women entrepreneurs are doing? Diane DiResta, owner and CEO of DiResta Communications, attended the Global Summit of Women May 20-22 at the Marriott City Wall Hotel in Beijing and reports that there are more women entrepreneurs in China than the entire United States population at 300 million. The Global Summit of Women celebrated its 20th year with the theme, "Women at the Forefront of Change." The annual conference, headed by Irene Natividad, is unique in that it brings together government leaders, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), corporations and entrepreneurs who are committed to improving women's economic status worldwide. The conference attracted 1000 women from around the world with Mongolia being the largest group. Presentations were in English and Chinese.

Prior to the summit DiResta was invited to a briefing and reception at the United States Embassy. The panel concurred that the key to doing business with the Chinese is building lasting relationships. Professor Qing qi' Shir stated that despite the extraordinary number of Chinese women entrepreneurs, the number one roadblock for Chinese women business owners is access to capital and the primary source of information and technology is the Internet. She shared that 97% are optimistic about the economic future. China had a 9.8% growth rate during the financial crisis.

Some of the speakers included: The honorable Nguyen Thi Doan, Vice President of Vietnam, First Lady Salma Kikwete of Tanzania, Hon. Maud Olofsson, Deputy Prime Minister, Sweden, and Cheng Hong, Vice Mayor of Beijing. A highlight of the conference was the introduction of the first Saudi woman to become a government representative. Social, economic and political leadership issues were discussed. In Tanzania, for example, getting tested for HIV is a stigma so the First Lady stepped up and got tested in public.

The conference provided an economic opportunity for local women who could set up a booth and sell their jewelry and wares.

Ms. DiResta, who is an International speaker and public speaking strategist, stated "The conference shattered myths and misconceptions we have of each other. I was surprised when two women from Oman sat next to me and invited me to two of their conferences. I didn't realize there were so many women entrepreneurs." One woman changed her opinion about Americans when she met someone from the U.S. who could speak several languages.

Across cultures, a major universal issue still remains: Women are underrepresented on boards, as corporate CEOs, and in getting funded.

Next year's conference will be held in May 2011 in Istanbul, Turkey.

Speaking Internationally

If you've been invited to speak internationally or would like to, I thought you'd benefit from my experiences abroad. Speaking internationally is an adventure and a learning experience. When I traveled to Russia with 20 women from The Alliance of American and Russian Women, I learned quickly the importance of cultural training. We were there to teach women about entrepreneurship. It was 1993 and a market economy was a new concept for Russians. We were warmly welcomed. The Russians drank at every meal and made a series of toasts. When it was my turn, I shared my husband’s nervousness about my traveling such a distance. He didn’t want me to go. But it was so important to me, I said, “Too bad. I’m going.