Quick tips for overseas meetings and presentations
What You Say, WHAT THEY HEAR! Presenting to international audiences requires not only doing developing content but also learning how people are most comfortable receiving information. Ask yourself these questions before you put your materials together:
1 Who are the decision makers? In Asian cultures, decision makers often don't go to formal presentations. But even if senior people are present, remember to make eye contact with everyone in the room. And don't expect quick decisions! Also: When the British say "yes," it usually means "maybe," and among Asians, if said immediately, "yes" probably means "no."
2 How should I deliver the presentation? This varies tremendously. American audiences, for example, like to interact and ask lots of questions. South Americans usually like a fast clip. Europeans, on the other hand, prefer to hear your presentation all the way through before posing questions. And Asians dislike lots of gestures. When in doubt, take a break to check for comprehension, and then continue.
3 What kind of visuals should I use? In certain cultures, colors carry meanings. In Japan, for example, white symbolizes death. In some Latin countries, yellow carries negative connotations. Safe colors, in general, are green and navy blue, with black for text. As a rule of thumb, observe the standards of native presenters.
4 How should I respond to questions? Make sure you fully understand what's being asked, particularly where language barriers exist. Even if a translator is present, always rephrase the question, which will buy you time to formulate an answer. Be flexible to accommodate cultures that allow more floor time per questioner than others.
5 Should I use humor? The Irish expect a little lightheartedness, but humor rarely translates well from culture to culture. Play it safe by avoiding word plays, puns, or humorous stories with a punch line.
Europe's 10 Best-Kept Hotel Secrets Want a European experience you can't get at a hotel chain? Check out these picks from Business Travel International:
1 Hotel Villa Orange, Frankfurt - This homey, 38-room retreat lies outside the typical tourist area in a neighborhood that houses many famous eateries and cafes.
2 Hotel Torbraeu, Munich - Built in the Bavarian style, this rustic, 100-room, 500-year-old hotel was formerly a brewery.
3 Hotel Villa Le Rondini, Florence - Dating to the 16th century, this estate has five buildings and includes a swimming pool, olive grove, and tennis court. Meeting and conference rooms and a period drawing room are shared among the 42 rooms and suites.
4 La Locanda di Van Gogh, Rome - Flush with antique furniture in a classic building, this first-class property has only 14 rooms and a side road entrance, so it's often overlooked by mainstream travelers.
5 Hotel Apollofirst, Amsterdam - Home of the famous Chambertin restaurant, this 30-room hotel is ideally located at Vondelpark, the city's hub.
6 Classic Hotel Amadeus, Hannover - This 129-room, full-service hotel offers modern design accents and amenities.
7 Hotel Villa Viktoria - This private residence has been transformed into 40 suites, without losing the intimacy or grandeur of its former days.
8 Schlosshotel Lerbach, Bergisch-Gladbach (near Cologne) - This 54-room castle just outside the city has 54 guest suites with chambers big enough for entertaining and small meetings.
9 Hotel im Wassertum, Cologne - A refurbished 19th-century water tower with 42 suites and 48 rooms, this hotel is in a quiet, yet central, neighborhood.
10 Hotel Bleibtreu, Berlin - This first-class, 60-room hotel features a blue facade, blue public areas, and details all in shades of blue.
WEB SITES Worth Visiting www.eventsecurity.com Event & Meeting Security Services is an international security firm that specializes in the management of security, health, staff communications, and contingency planning for events, meetings, and travel.
www.worldtimeserver.com It's 9:00 a.m. where you live. Do you know what time it is in Tahiti? Visit this site for worldwide time conversion info.
www.mpiweb.safeshopper.com Wondering how to shake hands in Japan or make an Englishman laugh? Avoid big gaffs overseas with a selection from MPI bookstore's extensive collection on international issues.
www.adme.org Find a through the Association of Destination Management Executives. This site includes DMCs in the United States and Puerto Rico, Africa, Canada, Jordan, Mexico, and Turkey.
www.findadmc.com Another site for finding destination management companies around the world, this page has listings in Ireland, Jamaica, Mexico, and St. Lucia as well as the United States.
- In the United States, people generally keep 1.5 feet to 2 feet away when engaging others in conversation. But in the Caribbean and Latin American, says Teri Valls, president of Meetings Events and Conference Coordinators in South Florida, personal space is half that. If close proximity makes you uncomfortable, don't move away when working with people from these countries - you risk being misinterpreted. Instead, place yourself behind a table or other object to create a space-making barrier. For more information about Latin American and Caribbean customs, e-mail Teri at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Is Your Modem Multilingual? The Mobile Connectivity Guide can help you through the daunting maze of foreign plugs, PBXs, and other incompatibility problems. Order it online for $19.95 from TeleAdapt, San Jose, Calif., www.teleadaptusa.com, or call (408) 965-1400.
- A recent survey shows that CMI readers' top picks for overseas destinations in 2000 were: 1) Cancun; 2) London, tied with 3) The Bahamas; 4) Paris; 5) Cabo San Lucas; and 6) San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The Euro: Planning a meeting in Europe? It may pay to lock up euros at their current exchange rate. Although the euro has fallen since it was introduced in January 1999, experts predict long-term gains, according to Business Week (www.businessweek.com).
- Local currencies will remain in place until 2002, but they are locked into the euro at fixed exchange rates. Several banks offer money-market accounts or CDs that will earn modest yields until you're ready to convert your euros to any of the currencies of the 11 member countries, which you can do without a fee.
- For exchange rates, visit www.businessweek.com/2000/00_44/b3705144.htm.