I've given many presentations in Europe and Asia -- successful I always thought -- but I probably missed the lessons learned as I read Erin Meyer's blog posting about tailoring your presentation to fit the culture of the audience. Myer tells us he ran into some issues in a briefing to a French audience:
"The stonewall [to my briefing to a French audience that] .... was “principles-first reasoning” (sometimes referred to as deductive reasoning), which derives conclusions or facts from general principles or concepts. People from principles-first cultures, such as France, Spain, Germany, and Russia (to name just a few) most often seek to understand the “why” behind proposals or requests before they move to action.
But as an American, I had been immersed throughout my life in “applications-first reasoning” (sometimes referred to as inductive reasoning), in which general conclusions are reached based on a pattern of factual observations from the real world.
Application-first cultures tend to focus less on the “why” and more on the “how.” .
And, so, Meyer sums it up with this advice:
When working with applications-first people:
Presentations: Make your arguments effectively by getting right to the point. Stick to concrete examples, tools and next steps. ... You’ll need less time for conceptual debate.
Persuading others: Provide practical examples of how it worked elsewhere.
Providing Instructions: Focus on the how more than the why.
When working with principles-first people:
Presentations: Make your argument effectively by explaining and validating the concept underlying your reasoning before coming to conclusions and examples. Leave ... time for challenge and debate of the underlying concepts.....
Persuading others: Provide background principles and welcome debate.
Providing Instructions: Explain why, not just how.
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