Present Your Messages With Cultural Clarity

The point is that phrases that are common to you may  put into another context by someone else. Are there things that you say on or off the platform that are slang or unknown by everyone in your audience. Think about it. Everyone, for example, does not use AOL. So the term “You’ve got mail” may not be familiar to them. (Unless they saw the movie)

How many times have you heard phrases like “Christmas is right around the corner”? Yet, I heard a story about someone using that phrase in a presentation and someone, unfamiliar with the term, actually stood at the door looking for someone named Christmas to come around the corner.

One day I shared a joke that had the punch line “You goose will be cooked.” There was someone translating my entire presentation live in Spanish. Yet, when they gave that term I didn’t get the laughs I usually got. The translators informed me that the term was not a common one to the multiple members audience who were from different parts of Latin America.

So think carefully about your phrases, terms, etc and be sure they will be understood by everyone who is getting your powerful message. Remember, you can always explain the terms or phrases you use. After all, that is our job.

4 Responses

  1. Heidi Caswell Says:

    I’ve also seen where a term means one thing in one culture and it becomes offensive in another. Person to person you can see someone’s reaction and clear up misunderstandings, and gain a deeper understanding of each other’s background. Online, well I guess they can let you know too. I’m thinking of Motrin’s new ad that offended moms.
    Great info! Thanks

  2. Idea Coach Says:

    Great example Heidi. Here is an article which includes two videos about that campaign. The cultural context was in fact Moms. Research, focus groups and analysis of word use would have helped. Motrin made us work too hard to figure out what they meant vs what they said.
    Check it out

  3. Pam Archer Says:

    I presented a fitness presentation at World Fitness IDEA a few years ago. Since only about 25% of the 4,000 attendees speak English, the US presenters were warned to not limit their statisics, etc. to US stats, but to remember that we were talking to a world audience. It was fun, challenging, and made me aware of things I say on my blog.

  4. Idea Coach Says:

    That’s interesting. What did you observe?