Resources: Notes on Life and Language in the United States

Presenting in English: What About Culture?

Posted by Lindsay McMahon on Fri, Apr 15, 2011 @ 12:23 PM

English presentation and culture, English presentation, presenting in English

Are you getting ready to give a business presentation at work in English?

Do you have all of your phrases and notes prepared?


But you are forgetting one key piece that could MAKE or BREAK your presentation.

That key piece is culture!

Why do we need to consider culture when delivering a presentation in English at work?

Our home culture gears our expectations regarding timing of the presentation, making an argument, involving the audience and setting the tone.

If you are presenting to an American audience at work or in class and you are from a different culture, you need to consider these points to create a presentation that will be well received by your audience.

So, let's get started!


"When we prepare for a presentation in English, we must also consider the cultural norms and expectations of our audience."



Setting the Tone:


 set the tone, presenting in the USIn the US, it is common to begin a speech with a story or a joke to get the audience interested and engaged.

It is important to catch the listeners’ attention early.

Remember, this might be appropriate in many business presentation situations in the United States, but if you are not sure about your company, it’s a good idea to ask a colleague beforehand.






 time, presenting in american cultureIn the US, timing for a presentation is usually very structured.

There is a certain amount of time dedicated to the presentation and a certain amount of time determined for questions, comments and networking and socializing at the end. 

In general, someone from Latin America may have a more flexible view of time.

If you are from a culture that does not follow strict time schedules during presentations, you should be aware that the style in the US is different and plan your presentation based on that.



Presenting an Argument or Making a Point:


 Neil Payne, director of Kwintessential, commented that Americans and Europeans have a very different style of presenting an argument.

Europeans like to present facts and ideas that gradually establish credibility and lead to a final argument or point at the end of the presentation. 

In contrast, Americans like to state their point or argument at the beginning, then present evidence to support it throughout the presentation. Keep this in mind when you prepare a presentation for an American audience.


Involving the Audience:


 presenting in US culture involve the audienceTypically, American audiences clap after a presentation to thank the presenter for his or her contribution.

If you are from another culture, you may not anticipate clapping so it is good to be aware.

A successful presentation in the US engages the audience.

It is very typical for Americans to try to get involved if they are interested in the topic by asking the presenter questions.

ou should allow extra time for questions and answers at the end.


Don't forget to check out our other articles:


How to open your presentation in English with an introduction

How to build the main body of your presentation

How to conclude your presentation in English



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photo credit-betsyweber,    maureen_sill   kamera.obskura,   Wilmack

Topics: Business English Presentations, English Public Speaking, United States Culture

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