Thursday, February 22, 2007

Tips for speaking in a foreign country

I've given half a dozen talks since I've been here. Two have been formal scientific presentations, the others have been more-or-less introductions to me. Then, I taught part of my class last week. As someone who prides himself on ending on time, I find it difficult to meet that standard here in Finland---I end up going over time typically. To the Finns that have listened to me drone on after my time is supposedly up, I apologize profusely. The "one slide per minute" rule doesn't work here, and it is frustrating! I believe this is the case for several reasons.

  • You have to slow down when speaking in a foreign country so that the audience will understand a greater percentage of your talk.
  • Here I speak to more than just meteorologists. I speak to air-quality specialists, atmospheric chemists, aerosol physicists, and Vaisala businesspeople who may have been engineers in a former career track. Even the meteorologists don't know the same things I can assume most meteorologists in the US know. For example, you can't assume that people know the three ingredients to deep moist convection or what CAPE is. So, I end up slowing down and talking about more basics, rather than being able to jump right into the science right away.
  • In the US, I teach people to not clutter their powerpoint slides with words, be sparse. Here, it helps the audience to have more words on the slide, and for you to repeat a greater fraction of those words as you discuss the slide. If people don't hear you correctly (and it is more difficult to hear someone correctly if they talk fast or with an accent or are unclear), they will at least be able to read the most important points.


Post a Comment

<< Home