I once attended a speaker conference where an American speaker said: “If you speak for an American audience you need to have 80% inspiration and 20% content.
Right after that a German speaker went up and said: “Well, if you speak in Germany you need to have 80% content and 20% inspiration.”
Feeling that you need to customize your speech to a specific nationality or culture might sound like a good idea, and infusing some local examples and stories tend to make a local audience more engaged.
But the problem arises when you are asked to speak for an international group at a global conference… What if you have 1000 people from 100 different countries in the room, including both Americans and Germans (and Chinese and Indians etc.) Then what do you do? Deliver 80% content (to reach the Germans) or 80% inspiration (to reach the Americans)?
My answer is simple: As a speaker you should have a speech that is constructed so that it works both on the American and the German: A speech that is 100% inspirational facts.
My philosophy is that speakers should aim to have a keynote speech that is universal.
A speech that includes examples and stories from all over the world (so that audience members from many different countries can relate and feel that the examples are relevant to them.) A speech that is presented in a way so that people enjoy it regardless what kind of culture they come from.
That is not possible, some say.
I believe that it is.
After delivering more than 2000 speeches in over 60 countries and after speaking at 23 different global or international conferences just last year, I am convinced that there is a “human approach” to speaking.
The great bonus with crafting a “human speech” that works on all nationalities is that that speech will also work on a group of just one nationality (say 1000 American car sales representatives.)
Michael Jackson was once asked: “Is it not difficult to perform to people in difference countries, from different cultures?” He replied went something like this: “No. They dance at the same place, laugh at the same place, scream at the same place.”
We might be different in many ways, but we are all humans. If a speaker crafts his or her speech to reach the human side of all of us, that will be a speech that will work on everyone, even when the audience is made up of people from all over the world.
So when you are organizing a global conference, look for a speaker who is looking at finding the common denominator in all of us, instead of a speaker trying to speak to what makes us different.