Public speaking at international events

Do you need to speak at a multilingual event? Here are some tips.

Speaking at the event

Convey your message effectively to your audience by speaking clearly and keeping an eye on your listeners. Are they following you?

Watch your listeners

Reading a paper or a set of slides hinders communication. Try to speak freely instead. Make eye contact: your listeners will follow you better, you will see how you're doing and you can adjust your talk as you go along.

If you decide to read, time yourself in advance, reading at what may feel like a fairly slow pace, taking the time to provide expressive intonation. A good rule of thumb is 100 words per minute (in English).

When quoting text, specify the reference in advance and make yourself slow down while you read it.

Pitch your talk to your audience: keep it professional at a professional meeting, highly educated at an academic meeting. Keep in mind that even without the language gap, Australians, for instance, may not be totally familiar with the finer points of American baseball.

Interpreters are your allies

Ensure that the interpreters receive a copy of your speaking notes or speech text ahead of time. Remember the interpreters are your mouthpiece where your international listeners are concerned. Worried about confidentiality? Members of AIIC are bound to professional secrecy. (Link to Code of Ethics). Do not hesitate to share your concerns with the team and request specific security measures that can be reasonably accommodated.

Speak your mother tongue if you can. Your nuances and points will come across much better in your own language than in Global English.

Use your microphone appropriately; do not wave it about like a laser pointer. Remove or switch off your headset before speaking into a microphone to avoid feedback whine. Keep your headset at hand during discussion periods so that you can follow any questions asked in other languages.

Recommended citation format:
AIIC. "Public speaking at international events". November 28, 2011. Accessed May 25, 2020. <>.