Resources: Notes on Life and Language in the United States

Is Your Business Presentation Ready for an American Audience?

Posted by Lindsay McMahon on Tue, May 21, 2013 @ 08:28 AM

business English presentation in US cultureAre you getting ready to deliver a professional presentation in English?

Perhaps you have recently relocated to the United States from Europe, Asia, or Latin America.

Maybe you were a star performer in your job in your home country and that's why you have been transferred to the U.S. office.

One of your biggest strengths has always been your ability to deliver awesome presentations at work.

For that reason, you are really looking forward to delivering your first presentation here in the United States. You have all of the material prepared and you are confident that it's going to be a huge success.

Stop right there!

You are about to make a huge mistake.

There is one major thing you have forgotten.

You are not presenting in your home culture anymore.  Even if your English is perfect, you need to remember that you are presenting to an American audience. You need to think about what an American audience is going to expect from you as a presenter if you want your presentation to succeed in the US.

Today we are going to help you with this. Read the tips below to make your presentation more successful in the United States.


Help your colleagues prepare their presentations for an American audience!

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#1) Involve the audience


involve American audience in business English presentationIn your home country, does the audience expect to be involved in the presentation or do they want to sit back and be spoken to?

Here in the US, it is important (in many workplace environments) to get your audience involved. This is especially true if you are trying to teach your audience a new skill or give them information about something.

A good presentation in the US is often an interactive presentation.



Prepare it for an American audience:

  • Consider the culture of your workplace to decide if an interactive presentation style is right for your colleagues
  • Create questions, interactive exercises, and activities
  • Make eye contact with audience members (it is a sign of respect and engagement in US culture)


Find out how to get your listeners involved here




#2) Keep it practical


post on business presentations in US cultureOne of the 13 key values of American people is pragmatism. We want to know what you have to say and how it can help us. We need to see how the information can be applied immediately.

Again, this will depend greatly on your industry, but keep in mind the importance of practical examples, tools, and suggestions.

In a culture like Germany, for example, professionals might expect a more theoretical and abstract approach. Don't expect the same in the United States!



Prepare it for an American audience:

  • Think about how you can use stories to make the information more practical and action-oriented
  • Give specific action items and suggestions at the end of the presentation




#3) Add some personality to your presentation


English presentations using gestures, idioms, sayingsAn interesting presentation in the US has to have variety and personality.

Vary your tone of voice. Show enthusiasm about key points as you present them.

Use your gestures to get the audience to respond.

If you are presenting a new idea, see if you can use your own experiences or stories to get the point across in a different way.


Prepare it for an American audience:

  • Learn some English phrases, idioms, or proverbs that you can use to make your delivery more interesting
  • Learn about typical gestures in American culture and how you could use them in your presentation




#4) Practice your pronunciation to build confidence

pronunciation for business presentations in EnglishYou might be thinking something like this: "What if no one understands me?"

If you are concerned that your audience won't understand your English during the presentation, then you are not alone!

This is the biggest concern for most non-native English speakers who deliver presentations in the US.

The key to overcoming this is practice. Hire a teacher or coach who specializes in pronunciation and practice with the coach during the two or three weeks before you deliver your presentation.

You will be surprised how much this will help you feel more confident when you are in front of the audience.


Prepare it for an American audience:

  • Get a pronunciation coach to help you prepare
  • Record your practice sessions (audio and/or video) and review them every day for a few weeks leading up to the presentation
  • Work with your coach on intonation (speaking pitch) in addition to pronunciation




Remember, you cannot simply translate your business presentation from your native language into English and expect to have success with an American audience.

Consider the 4 key points that I mentioned above and you will be on your way to creating a presentation that will resonate with your American colleagues.

Good luck!


Prepare for your next presentation in English




Photo credits: etech

Topics: Business English Presentations, United States Culture, Cultural Competence, Intercultural Communication

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