What I Wish I Knew When I First Started Speaking Internationally


Everyone has a different process and traveling habits, but here are some things I’ve learned the hard way over the seven years I’ve spoken abroad.

Tailor your talk according to your audience

I gave one of my first serious international talks in London, when I still worked at Esri. I was used to competing for attention with busy audiences on phones and laptops; I would consider a talk successful if I got just a few people to look up from their screens. I tried the same thing in the UK. I peppered the talk with short jokes and asides. Afterwards, I was pulled aside by one of the attendees: “Your talk was too flashy,” he told me, “and you spoke way too quickly. We’re not here to be distracted by phones and work like a lot of Americans. We’re here to learn and take notes.” Embarrassed, I quickly changed my slides and tried to provide an informative, in-depth presentation for the next speech. He was right. The audience took notes, and they asked many more questions at the end…

Too many speakers start by saying, “We have a lot of material to cover, so let’s get started,” before delivering a talk a messy talk that is unmemorable, unstructured and far too long. To have so much material means you have not condensed your ideas, or made them clear.

People remember better when there is less material .If I’m given a 45 minute time slot, I try to finish in 35 minutes. Sometimes a shorter speech can help the conference get back on schedule when time is running low. You can watch the tension fall away when you give people more time to think.

Read more from Amber Case at Medium