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speaking to a global audience Public Speaking: The Virtual Text

chapter 14

By Ganga Dhanesh, Ph.D.

National University of Singapore, SIngapore

On the first day of class, the lecturer, chapter outline:
who was new to the job, walked into chapter objectives:
After studying this module, you should be able to: Introduction
the lecture theatre, looked up at the Reasons to Adopt a Global
class that was like a mini United 1. Identify four reasons for Perspective
Nations of first- and second-year learning to speak to global o The Economic Imperative
undergraduates, took a deep breath to audiences. o The Technological Imperative
calm the butterflies in her stomach and 2. Explain three barriers to o The Demographic Imperative
said, Good morning class! Welcome speaking effectively to o The Peace Imperative
to the class on intercultural diverse audiences. Sensitivity and Respect
3. Utilize the concepts of high- o Stereotypes
communication! Its wonderful to see
and low-context cultures and o Prejudices
so many of you from diverse nations
polychronic and o Ethnocentrism
and cultures. I am sure we will have a Understanding a Diverse
monochronic time to tailor
great time sharing our experiences of your speech to diverse Audience
intercultural communication and audiences. o High- and Low-Context
learning from each other. By the way, 4. Explain how Hofstedes Cultures
you may call me anything you are most cultural dimensions can o Power Distance
comfortable with Ms. Megan, Dr. influence the preparation of o Uncertainty Avoidance
Megan, Dr. Tan, Prof., Maam, or just speeches for diverse o Individualism-Collectivism
Megan. audiences. o Masculinity-Femininity
5. Elaborate on ways to make o Time Orientation
Megan Tan was off to a great start! supporting materials Selecting Supporting Materials
She understood the importance of being culturally appropriate. o Stories
audience centered, especially when the 6. Compare and contrast linear o Facts and Statistics
audience is drawn from diverse and holistic patterns of o Testimony
nationalities, as her class was. She had organizing speeches. Speech Organization
been extremely nervous the night 7. Describe three holistic o Linear Pattern
before her class, but she had prepared patterns of speech o Holistic Pattern
organization. Appropriate Verbal Expression
well. She had studied the student
8. Discuss how verbal o Triangle of Meaning
profiles on the class website, had o Denotative and Connotative
expression can influence
carefully selected topics that would be Meaning
appropriate for the audience and had 9. Explain how a speakers o Communication Style
chosen examples with an eye on nonverbal behavior can Effective Nonverbal Expression
keeping them inclusive. She structured impact audiences. o Kinesics
her delivery in a way that balanced 10. Discuss how visual aids can o Paralanguage
textual content with visual material and be culturally appropriate. o Physical Appearance
deliberately used language that was Triangle of Meaning
non-judgmental. The students were Constructing Visual Aids
delighted that they could address her Public speaking has often been rated Conclusion
according to the norms of their own the number number-one stress inducer Review Questions and Activities
in people. When a diverse, global Glossary
cultures. References
audience is added, public speaking can
We inhabit a universe that is become a minefield that has to be
navigated with care and sensitivity.
characterized by diversity.
~ Desmond Tutu
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Chapter 14 Speaking to a Global Audience

Speaking effectively to a global

audience requires both knowledge of snapshot from real life
speaking principles and an awareness
of intercultural differences. To this end, British Petroleum [BP] appointed a new American CEO, Robert Dudley,
this chapter will begin by examining who replaced Tony Hayward, a British national who had been in charge
the need to speak to a global audience of BP in 2010 when the Deepwater Horizon disaster occurred in the Gulf
and then the strategies that can be used of Mexico. In addition to the obvious issue of being responsible for one
to manage the process effectively. In of the worlds worst ecological disasters, one of the key reasons for the
addition to stressing the need for change could be the role that culture played. Hayward was unable to
sensitivity and respect that underlies strike the right emotional chord with the American public.
the basic principles of speaking to
global audiences, the chapter will offer Americans are used to seeing politicians and leaders display emotion
specific strategies that can be employed in situations that call for it. In such a context, Haywards British tendency
at each stage of the speech process, to crack a joke to defuse the tension made him look as though he was
from speech planning, preparation and not taking the situation seriously enough. In contrast to Haywards
organization, to delivery. notorious comment, Id like my life back the new American CEO
Dudley, when asked whether he felt guilty, replied, I just feel sad. Ive
been working in the oil and gas business my whole career. It provides a
reasons to adopt a global product that people need, its energy, and all of us cant believe this
perspective has happened.
Martin and Nakayama (2010) argued
that key reasons to adopt a global If Hayward had taken cultural differences into account, he could have
perspective in communication include adapted his crisis communication to his audience, and his comments
economic, technological, demographic might have been more positively received (Crooks & Edgecliffe-
and peace imperatives. These motives Johnson, 2010).
can be extended to the realm of public
speaking too.
services and manufacturing. The top diversity of audiences who could be
the economic imperative 500 multinational corporations account dispersed around the world but can be
Globalization was perhaps one of the for nearly 70 percent of worldwide reached instantly over the Internets
most distinctive phenomena of the 20th trade ( These global social networks.
century, resulting in feverish exchanges flows of resources have highlighted the
of people, ideas, goods and money need for organizations, whether profit, the demographic
across national boundaries. Friedman non-profit or governmental, to address imperative
(2005) contended that the world has diverse audiences. Moreover, local Even though the history of the
become flat with India, China and neighborhoods from Seattle to human race has been characterized by
other countries becoming an integral Singapore are becoming increasingly continual migration and socialization,
part of the global supply chain for diverse. As a result, people who speak one of the most extensive waves of
on behalf of organizations need to be migration and cultural mixing occurred
sensitive to audience diversity while during the 20th century. First-
making speeches in public. generation immigrants often carried
with them a strong sense of cultural and
the technological ethnic identities that made issues of
imperative integration and assimilation hot-button
Due to the rapid proliferation of issues in countries from the United
information and communication States to Germany in Western Europe
technologies and the advent of modern and to Singapore in Southeast Asia.
transportation systems, the world has Any attempt at public speaking that is
simultaneously shrunk and expanded. not sensitive to the plurality of the
Shrunk because ,in a Twitter moment, audience in such an increasingly
one can communicate with millions of diverse and multicultural world is
people, and expanded because almost certainly bound to fail.
technologies and transportation systems
have enabled access to diverse cultures
and societies across the world. This
situation makes it vital for public
speakers to be conscious of the
Chapter 14 Speaking to a Global Audience

people, harboring prejudices against

snapshot from real life people and being ethnocentric.
President Barack Obamas speech at Cairo University has been highly A stereotype is a standardized
commended for the respect and sensitivity he accorded to the host conception or image of a group of
audience. Here is an excerpt from his speech that demonstrates not people. Stereotypes are akin to a
only respect towards the hosts, but also sensitivity towards the host mental cookie cutter, forcing a simple
culture by using a common salutation among Muslims, assalaamu pattern upon a complex mass of people
alaykum. During his speech, President Obama (2009)said: and assigning a limited number of
characteristics to all members of a
I am honored to be in the timeless city of Cairo, and to be hosted group. Stereotypes are simple,
by two remarkable institutions. For over a thousand years, al-Azhar acquired, often erroneous and resistant
has stood as a beacon of Islamic learning, and for over a century, to change. People usually acquire
Cairo University has been a source of Egypt's advancement. stereotypes through the process of
Together, you represent the harmony between tradition and socialization and through the mass
progress. I am grateful for your hospitality, and the hospitality of the media, such as cultural stereotypes
people of Egypt. I am also proud to carry with me the goodwill of portrayed in advertising. Stereotypes
the American people, and a greeting of peace from Muslim become problematic when they reduce
communities in my country: assalaamu alaykum. the wide range of differences among
people to simplistic categories and
transform these categories into
of 100 days in 1994. imagined realities, fueling attitudes of
the peace imperative us versus them (Gudykunst & Kim,
Worse still, intolerance reflected and These compelling reasons for public 1997). It is important for public
magnified in public speeches can breed speakers to adopt a global perspective speakers to be aware of the stereotypes
feelings of hatred and violence. require an examination of the basics of they might harbor so that they can steer
Noreiga and Iribarrens (2009) study on speaking effectively to a global clear of using stereotypes that might
hate speech and its relation to hate audience. offend diverse audience members and
crimes in conservative talk radio in Los
harm the speakers credibility.
Angeles found extensive evidence of
hate speech against vulnerable groups sensitivity and respect
such as foreign nationals and racial and Perhaps the most important advice in snapshot from real life
ethnic minorities. Further, speaking to a global audience would be
Yanagizawa-Drott (2012) found that to cultivate a sense of sensitivity and Rush Limbaugh, the conser-
around 10% of genocidal violence in respect a keen awareness of and vative radio talk show host, has
Rwanda could be attributed to sensitivity to differences among people often been lambasted for using
propagandist broadcasts on a radio from diverse cultures and respect for sexist and racist stereotypes in his
station that had called for the others who are unlike the speaker. broadcasts. In an article on the
extermination of the Tutsi minority When speaking to a global audience, it CNN website, Jane Fonda, Robin
during the Rwandan genocide in which is imperative for public speakers to Morgan and Gloria Steinem
around 800,000 people died over a span suspend ethnocentric judgments and (2012) of the Womens Media
engage audiences in an open, tolerant, Center argued that the Federal
sensitive and respectful manner. Communications Commission
According to Chen & Starosta (2005), should ban Limbaugh from the
the basic components of intercultural airwaves. Some instances of
communication competence include stereotypes of women he
intercultural sensitivity, awareness and employed included referring to
effectiveness. Intercultural sensitivity female cabinet members as sex-
requires speakers to know and control retaries. On another occasion,
themselves. Intercultural awareness he used a racial stereotype,
requires speakers to know and respect telling an African-American
others. Intercultural effectiveness female caller he could not
requires speakers to manage their understand to take that bone
behavior. Potential roadblocks to out of your nose and call me
achieving intercultural communication back.
competence include stereotyping

Chapter 14 Speaking to a Global Audience

Similarly, prejudices are negative snapshot from real life
attitudes toward a cultural group, often
based on little or no experience.
An American professor was in
Prejudices may arise from multiple
Singapore to talk about his
sources, such as tensions between
research on environmental
groups, unfavourable past encounters,
sustainability. He was an
status differences and perceived threats.
authority in the field and the
The causes of prejudices could include
audience, comprising mostly
societal sources, an innate need to
Singaporeans, was looking
maintain social identity, and
scapegoating. Expressions of prejudice forward to the talk. However,
can range from subtle non-verbal acts he alienated the audience right
to outright hostility. Public speakers from the start of the speech. He
can best avoid or overcome prejudices said that after travelling all over
by increasing personal contact with the world, he had decided not
groups with whom they do not to reside in Singapore because
regularly interact or through education of pollution and that he would
(Cooper, Calloway-Thomas & continue to reside in his home
Simonds, 2007). Similar to country, which was far cleaner.
stereotypes, prejudices must be handled While he continued to speak
carefully. Public speakers should eloquently on the topic of his
ethnocentrism speech, he had remarkably
question themselves and identify Ethnocentrism refers to the notion
potential prejudices they might have reduced the audiences
that ones own culture is superior to enthusiasm by displaying an
toward certain groups, steer clear of any other. It perpetuates the idea that
these negative attitudes, withhold ethnocentric attitude. To make
other cultures ought to be judged by the matters worse, he singled out
judgment and deliver speeches free of extent to which they measure up to
baseless prejudices. the Formula One night race
ones own cultural standards. While
Singapore was then embarking
ethnocentrism is universal and
snapshot from real life on (and the audience was
contributes to cultural identity, if left
justifiably proud of) and the
unchecked, it can stand in the way of
resultant pollution it would
A recent example of achieving intercultural communication
cause as a key reason affecting
prejudice vocalized by a competence (Samovar, Porter &
his decision.
prominent person was the McDaniel, 2010). In the quest for
case of John Galliano. The intercultural communication
French fashion house Christian competence, speakers can aim for competence are undoubtedly sound
Dior dismissed its chief ethnorelativism, the acquired ability to advice. There are specific ways to
designer, John Galliano, after see multiple values and behaviors as prepare and deliver speeches to global
the broadcast of a video that cultural rather than universal. This audiences, and the next section explains
showed his anti-Semitic notion assumes that no one culture is the techniques that can be adopted at
outbursts at a Paris bar in central to describing and evaluating each step of the speechmaking process.
March 2011. The video reality. Moving from realms of
appeared to show Mr. ethnocentrism to ethnorelativism helps
Galliano declaring that I love public speakers move from egocentric
Hitler and that people like to empathetic attitudes while preparing Ethnic stereotypes are boring
you would be dead, and speeches for a diverse audience. and stressful and sometimes
your mothers, your Samovar et al. (2010) proposed some criminal. It's just not a good
forefathers would all be guidelines to intercultural ethics, such way to think. It's non-
gassed. While Galliano has as respecting differences, seeking
his defenders and the content commonalities, recognizing the validity thinking. It's stupid and
of the video has been of differences, looking past the destructive.
contested, observers said that superficial, withholding judgment and ~ Tommy Lee Jones
the company might have taking responsibility for ones own
acted swiftly in order to actions. Suspending ethnocentrism and
deflect mounting public choosing the path to ethnorelativism
criticism (Saltmarsh, 2011). and intercultural communication
Chapter 14 Speaking to a Global Audience

understanding a diverse audiences that use low-context

messages, public speakers will need to
focus on their verbal expressions, using
The previous section brought out the
clear, specific and precise words that
importance of addressing diverse
audiences and highlighted the need to convey exact meaning. On the other
hand, while preparing speeches for
suspend ethnocentric judgments in
audiences that use high-context
favor of ethnorelativism. This section
will examine how a speaker can be messages, speakers should focus more
sensitive to diversity in the audience on non-verbal expressions and the
specifics of the context.
during the speech planning process.
Hofstede (2001), in his study of
more than 100,000 employees of IBM
Diversity in the world is a in more than 70 countries, identified
four cultural value dimensions that
basic characteristic of human would differentiate diverse cultures.
high- and low-context
society, and also the key These dimensions were power distance,
cultures uncertainty avoidance, individualism-
condition for a lively and Hall proposed that communication collectivism and masculinity-
dynamic world as we see patterns are organized by the amount femininity.
of information implied by the setting or
today. the context of the communication itself, power distance
~ Hu Jintao regardless of the specific words The dimension of power distance
spoken (Lustig & Koester, 2010, refers to the degree to which the
Cultural patterns refer to common p.109). Low-context cultures prefer culture believes that institutional and
themes through which different cultures to use low-context messages, where the organizational power should be
can be understood. They consist of message is encoded in the words used, distributed unequally and the decisions
beliefs, values and norms shared among or in the verbal expression, and not in of the power holders should be
members of a group and which remain the context. However, high-context challenged or accepted (Lustig &
stable over time. They make most cultures prefer to use high-context Koester, 2010, p.114). Cultures that
members of a culture respond or messages, where the meaning is have low-power distances tend to
behave in more or less similar ways in implied by the physical setting or is minimize social inequalities and
similar situations. Of course, not all presumed to be part of the cultures challenge authority figures, and they
people in a cultural group behave in shared beliefs, values and norms. prefer reduced hierarchical
exactly the same way. Behavior will People from high- and low-context organizational structures. On the other
vary depending on personality cultures differ in their preferences for hand, cultures that have high-power
orientations, individual values and self- types of messages. People from low- distances tend to ascribe a rightful
construals, or the way people think context cultures tend to use more overt place for each person in the order, to
about themselves (Lustig & Koester, messages where the meaning is made not question or challenge authority and
2010). very explicit. Low-context messages to have hierarchical organization
are intended to convey exact meaning structures. Public speakers must keep
Scholars have proposed different in mind that audiences from high-
cultural patterns to explain cultural through clear, precise and specific
words. Verbal expression is of power distance cultures are discouraged
differences among people. Among the from asking questions because it is seen
most widely accepted patterns are paramount importance, while the
context of the speech is relatively as questioning the speakers authority.
Halls (1976) categories of high- and On the other hand, listeners from low-
low-context cultures and Hofstedes unimportant. On the other hand, people
from high-context cultures tend to use power distance cultures might be more
(2001) cultural value dimensions. used to questioning authority and to
Public speakers need to stay critical and more covert messages where the
meaning is implicit in the context in challenge the assertions of the speaker.
examine how their culture fits into
these patterns and how the speaker as which the words are spoken.
Nonverbal expressions take on more
Don't walk behind me; I may
an individual fits or does not fit into
these patterns. This awareness helps importance than verbal. not lead. Don't walk in front
speakers stay conscious of their cultural Communication is intended to promote of me; I may not follow. Just
background while avoiding notions of and sustain harmony and not
necessarily to convey exact, precise
walk beside me and be my
ethnocentrism as they prepare speeches
for diverse audiences. meaning. friend.
When preparing speeches for ~ Albert Camus
Chapter 14 Speaking to a Global Audience

demand loyalty to the group. They public speakers can emphasize ideas
believe that an individuals primary such as cooperation and solidarity.
obligations lie with the group, and they
stress the dependence of individuals on time orientation
organizations. On the other hand, in People from different cultural
cultures that rank high on indivi- backgrounds can vary in their
dualism, the autonomy of the individual perceptions of time, irrespective of
is paramount and people are expected what the clock shows. Hall
to take care of themselves. Audience distinguished between a monochronic,
members from individualistic cultures or linear, time orientation and a
are responsive to ideas that emphasize polychronic, or cyclical, time
personal achievement and highlight orientation (Samovar et al., 2010). To
individual achievement. On the people in monochronic cultures, linear
contrary, audience members from more time is tangible and can be saved,
collectivistic cultures might prefer spent, lost, wasted, etc. People from
uncertainty avoidance recognition of group or team monochronic cultures tend to focus on
The uncertainty avoidance achievement to recognition of one thing at a time. Schedules and
dimension refers to the extent to individual accomplishment. deadlines are sacrosanct and
which the culture feels threatened by punctuality is highly regarded. On the
ambiguous, uncertain situations and America's strength is not our other hand, to people in polychronic
tries to avoid them by establishing cultures, cyclical time is less tangible
more structure (Lustig & Koester,
diversity; our strength is our and is seldom considered wasted.
2010, p.116). In other words, cultures ability to unite people of People from polychronic cultures can
with low uncertainty avoidance will different backgrounds around often be involved in multiple activities
have high tolerance for ambiguity and at the same time, with no strict division
uncertainty, encourage dissent, tolerate
common principles. A among the different activities. They
social deviance and generally take common language is usually stress involvement with people
more risks and experiment with new necessary to reach that goal. and cultivating relationships more than
things. However, cultures with high schedules and deadlines, so punctuality
uncertainty avoidance prefer to avoid
~ Ernest Istook is not highly regarded.
uncertainty. They try to ensure security
and certainty through an extensive set masculinity-femininity
of rules and regulations. They do not The dimension of masculinity-
tolerate dissent or social deviance and femininity refers to the degree to
have a low-risk appetite. Therefore, which a culture values masculine
when public speakers are preparing to behaviors, such as assertiveness and the
speak to audiences from high acquisition of wealth, or feminine
uncertainty avoidance cultures, they behaviors, such as caring for others and
must keep in mind that there are likely the quality of life (Lustig & Koester,
to be more and stricter rules and 2010, p.118). Cultures that rank low on
protocols governing speeches. On the the masculinity index tend to believe in
other hand, speeches prepared for low life choices that improve aspects of
uncertainty avoidance groups might be quality of life, such as service to others
more creative or improvised. and sympathy for the less fortunate.
Audiences ranked low in uncertainty They prefer nurturing roles for both
avoidance, or greater tolerance for men and women, and have fewer
ambiguity, can consider abstract ideas prescriptive behaviors based on gender.
without many specifics. On the other hand, cultures that rank
high on the masculinity index stress
ambition and achievement. When
The dimension of individualism-
preparing speeches for audiences from
collectivism refers to the degree to
predominantly masculine cultures,
which a culture relies on and has
public speakers can emphasize, for Understanding an audiences time
allegiance to the self or the group
example, performance and orientation can enhance the
(Lustig & Koester, 2010, p.117).
achievement. On the other hand, when effectiveness of a speech to a global
Cultures that rank low on individualism
preparing speeches for audiences from audience. For example, an audience
are highly collectivistic in nature and
predominantly feminine cultures, from a predominantly monochronic
Chapter 14 Speaking to a Global Audience

Table 14.1 or buttress their arguments. However,

facts do not enjoy currency in all
Countries/Cultures that Vary on Cultural Patterns
cultures. In cultures that value stories
Cultural Patterns Examples of Countries/Cultures
and parables, facts and statistics are not
Low-context, explicit as well received.
communication style Germany, Sweden, England
High-context, implicit testimonies
communication style Japanese, African American, Mexican, Latino The acceptance of expert testimonies
High Power Distance Guatemala, Malaysia, Philippines, Arab also varies from culture to culture. In
countries some African cultures, no one is
Low Power Distance Austria, Denmark, New Zealand regarded as being objective. For
Individualistic Austria, Belgium, Netherlands, United States instance, the testimony of a witness
Collectivistic Guatemala, Indonesia, Pakistan, West Africa would have low credibility, because
High Uncertainty when someone speaks up about
Avoidance Greece, Portugal, Guatemala, Uruguay something, that person is expected to
Low Uncertainty have a personal agenda in mind
Avoidance Denmark, Jamaica, Ireland, Singapore (Chang, 2004). On the contrary, in the
Masculine Cultures Austria, Italy, Mexico, Japan United States, testimonies of witnesses
Feminine Cultures Sweden, Thailand, Chile, Portugal are vital pieces of evidence. These
differences in relative credibility
Monochronic Time
accorded to testimonies by different
Orientation Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Unites States
cultures can affect the effectiveness of
Polychronic Time Arab, African, Indian, Latin American, South
a public speech. Employing a mix of
Orientation Asian Countries
supporting materials might enhance
Sources: Lustig & Koester, (2010); Samovar et al. (2010) credibility with a diverse audience.
culture might expect the speech to start
and end on time. However, an stories
audience from a predominantly In many cultures, anecdotes, stories
polychronic culture might not expect a or parables enjoy high credibility as
strict adherence to a schedule. Further, supporting materials. For instance, in
in the two different contexts, you Kenya the success of persuasive
would also have to deal very differently messages will often depend on the
with latecomers. An understanding of effective use of personal stories and
cultural time orientation will help you anecdotes (Miller, 2002). Similarly,
in these situations. East and South East Asian cultures
influenced by Confucianism also tend
I am not struck so much by to rely on analogies, metaphors and
parables to convey the main message of
the diversity of testimony as the speech (Xiao, 1996). An effective
by the many-sidedness of strategy for public speakers would be to
truth. choose stories and anecdotes to support
their main arguments when addressing
~ Stanley Baldwin audiences predominantly from cultures
that value such supporting materials.
selecting supporting facts and statistics
materials European American cultures often speech organization
The credibility of the materials value facts and statistics as the most Members of different cultural groups
chosen to support a speechs main idea credible form of supporting materials have varying preferences for different
is culturally dependent. This rule (Lustig & Koester, 2010). Most public organizational patterns such as linear
applies to the choice of stories, facts speaking textbooks include a section and holistic.
and statistics and testimonies, the that emphasizes the importance of
materials most often used to support a strengthening main points with facts linear pattern
speech. and statistics. And, most public Speakers from low-context cultures
speeches made by politicians, activists often use linear patterns, such as cause-
or corporate CEOs are often peppered and-effect, problem-solution,
with statistics that appear to highlight chronological and spatial. In these

Chapter 14 Speaking to a Global Audience

patterns the speaker develops the main crest-trough wave pattern in which they
idea step by step, relying on facts and use examples and stories to slowly
data to support the main argument. The build up to the main point at the crest
main points and sub-points are of the wave. The speaker then winds
connected via transitions, internal down and repeats the pattern,
previews and summaries. The speaker reiterating main points or introducing
relies more on facts and data, rather new points at the peaks. Speeches that
than on stories and emotional appeals, follow the wave pattern usually end
and contextual understanding is not dramatically, at the crest. Ceremonial
emphasized. However, other speakers, speakers often employ this pattern,
mostly from high-context cultures, use using repetitive phrases to build up to
holistic and configural organizational the crest.
patterns that are more indirect than the spiral pattern
linear patterns (Lieberman, 1994). A speaker employing the spiral
pattern builds up dramatic intensity by
We have no hope of solving moving from smaller and less-intense
our problems without scenarios to bigger and more-intense
harnessing the diversity, the scenarios, in an upward spiral. A
speech about disciplining a child might
energy, and the creativity of use a spiral pattern. First, the speaker
all our people. could say that for a small transgression
~ Roger Wilkins a child might be given a time-out. The
next scenario could describe a larger appropriate verbal
transgression and a bigger punishment expression
such as being grounded for a day. Thats not what I meant! Most
Subsequent scenarios could build people have made a statement like that
further in intensity. at least once, if not many times. Oral
communication between people can
star pattern
often result in misunderstanding,
A variation of the more linear topical
frustration and, if you are lucky, lots of
pattern, the star pattern presents a set of
laughter. Why does this happen? Words
main points connected by an
can hold different meanings for
underlying common theme. For
different people, because meaning
different audiences, speakers will start
inheres in peoples minds and not in the
with different main points, but all main
word itself. Public speakers are
points will be united by one theme. For
increasingly being challenged to reach
instance, while delivering a speech on
beyond the comfort zone of speaking to
save the dolphins to primary school
audiences predominantly from their
students, the speaker might start with a
own culture, where their
holistic pattern main point that appeals to children,
communicative ability is fairly high
In holistic patterns, instead of such as the born to be free argument,
and to study and adapt to diverse
directly and explicitly presenting key and then cover the other main points.
audiences, where their intercultural
ideas, the speaker uses examples and However, when addressing marine
communication competency will be
stories to convey the main idea and biologists, the speaker might start with
challenged. This section explains how
leaves it to the audience to interpret the the main point that keeping dolphins in
language and culture influence each
message encoded in the examples and captivity is harmful to their health.
other and what public speakers can do
stories told. The main points and sub- Then the speaker would cover the
to use words effectively with multi-
points are connected through remaining points, all tied to the theme
cultural audiences.
implication rather than by clear bridges of saving dolphins.
and transitions. Cheryl Jorgensen Earp All patterns, whether linear or What we have to do... is to
(1993; as cited in Jaffe, 2004) has holistic, require careful and skillful
identified three distinct types of holistic planning and organization. When
find a way to celebrate our
organizational patterns: wave, spiral addressing a diverse audience, public diversity and debate our
and star. speakers should make an effort to differences without fracturing
wave pattern adjust their organizational patterns to
reflect their audiences preference.
our communities.
In the wave pattern, speakers adopt a
~ Hillary Clinton
Chapter 14 Speaking to a Global Audience

most powerful tool. Appropriate word beating about the bush. In such a the required amount of information
choice refers to choosing words that are style, non-verbal cues are not as nothing more, nothing less. Speakers
inclusive and avoiding sexist, racist and important as the verbal message. from Northern Europe and the United
ageist language. For instance, in Speakers from low-context cultures States tend to prefer an exacting style
certain cultures elders are highly valued most often use this communication of communication.
and given a lot of respect. While style. Faced with a diverse audience,
talking to a diverse audience, speakers In an indirect style, speakers place competent speakers will first identify
must avoid language that demeans the emphasis on the context of the speech their own communication style and the
elderly, or any other segment of the rather than the words spoken. In the preferred communication styles of their
audience for that matter. Some indirect style, meaning inheres in the audience. They then adjust and adapt
examples of the types of words to avoid context or is internalized with the their communication style so that the
are given in Table 14.2. people who are communicating. A audience will welcome the message.
competent speaker or listener in such a
situation would be one who
understands the context: where the
words are spoken, who is speaking and
to whom. People from high-context
cultures usually employ the indirect
style. Often people from high-context
cultures might find people from low-
context cultures too abrupt,
straightforward and insensitive, while
people from low-context cultures might
not understand why people from high-
context cultures never seem to get to
the point.

Sometimes one creates a effective non-verbal

dynamic impression by expression
saying something, and While interculturally competent
communication style speakers watch their words and verbal
sometimes one creates a expression, they are also aware of their
The interculturally competent public
speaker strives to learn the preferences significant an impression by non-verbal expression. Linguist
in communication styles that a diverse remaining silent. Deborah Tannen estimated that as
audience may have. For example, much as 90% of all human
~ Dalai Lama communication is non-verbal (cited in
Asians often prefer an implicit, subtle
style of communication, while North Neuliep, 2006). Whats more, when
Americans prefer more explicit, direct elaborate versus succinct verbal and non-verbal messages
styles. Gudykunst and Ting-Toomey These styles range on a continuum, conflict with each other, receivers tend
(1988) have identified two classes of with elaborate and succinct styles at the to believe the non-verbal cues more
communication styles that have a direct extremes and an exacting style at the than the verbal. This insight takes on
bearing on speech delivery: the direct- mid-point. In an elaborate style, added significance in the context of
versus-indirect styles and the elaborate- speakers use fairly rich language filled speaking to a global audience, because
versus-succinct styles. with proverbs, idioms, quotations and scholars maintain that even though a
metaphors. For example, speakers substantial portion of our non-verbal
direct versus indirect from Arab countries and Mexico tend behavior, including the expression of
Whether speech is direct or indirect to use this style. On the other end of emotion, is innate and hardly varies
is determined by the extent to which the spectrum, speakers employing a across cultures, much of non-verbal
speakers place emphasis on the succinct style use a lot of silences, communication is learned and varies
explicitness of verbal communication. pauses, indirectness, circumlocution significantly across cultures. This
In a direct style, speakers place and understatement to convey their section examines several different
emphasis on the words spoken. Words main ideas. The Japanese and people categories of non-verbal
are chosen for clarity and precision. from a number of other Asian countries communication, how they differ across
The intention of the direct-style speaker tend to use this style. In the middle of cultures, and how public speakers can
is to convey as clearly and logically the the continuum lies the exacting style use this knowledge for diverse
main idea of the speech, without wherein the speaker will give precisely audiences.

Chapter 14 Speaking to a Global Audience

kinesics regulators
Kinesic behavior, or body Regulators are the actions and
movement, includes gestures, hand, behaviors that manage the flow of
arm and leg movements, facial conversation. These include eye
expressions, eye contact and stance or contact, head movements, and
posture. Ekman and Friesen (1969) communicator distance. One of the
classified kinesic behavior into four most important regulators in public
broad categories: (1) emblems, (2) speaking is eye contact. Determining
illustrators, (3) affect displays, and (4) an appropriate amount of eye contact
regulators. between the speaker and audiences
varies across cultures. Public speakers
are encouraged to establish direct eye
contact with audiences in North
America, but this is often not the case
in other cultures. For instance,
Japanese communicators use less eye
contact, as prolonged eye contact is
considered rude in Japan. Eye contact
is expected from receivers in Arab
cultures as a mark of interest in the
speakers words. In France, eye contact
is not only frequent but often intense,
Why do people always and this might be intimidating to some
(Cooper et al., 2007).
gesture with their hands
when they talk on the phone?
emblems and illustrators
Emblems refer to hand gestures that ~ Jonathan Carroll
translate directly into words. For
instance, putting index finger to lips affect displays
indicates a shhh requesting silence. Scholars contend that human beings
Illustrators, on the other hand, are hand tend to adopt universal facial
and arm movements that accent or expressions to convey basic emotions
complement the words being used, such such as happiness, sadness, anger, fear,
as pounding a fist on the lectern to distrust and surprise. However, when,
emphasize a verbal message. where and to whom these emotions are
displayed depends on the cultural
Both emblems and illustrators differ context (Ekman & Friesen, 1969). For
widely across cultures. For instance, in instance, in many Mediterranean
the United States, making a circle with cultures, people tend to emphasize
the thumb and index finger while signs of grief or sadness. Conversely, paralanguage
extending the other fingers indicates the Japanese, Chinese and Koreans tend Paralanguage refers to the vocal
okay. However, in Japan and Korea to play down public expressions of cues, such as volume, rate and pitch
it indicates money. African-Americans sorrow, as well as anger, confusion and that accompany spoken language.
and people from Mediterranean disgust. Further, while a smile can be a These cues contribute to the meanings
countries, the Middle East, and South sign of happiness, it can convey people associate with the words
America tend to be animated speakers multiple meanings in some cultures. spoken. Some paralinguistic devices,
and use hand gestures liberally, while For instance, in Japan, a smile can be such as volume, are learned and vary
in many Asian countries, such as Japan used to mask another emotion or to across cultures. For instance, Latinos
and China, excessive use of gestures is avoid answering a question, as well as a and Arabs tend to speak more loudly
not encouraged. Speakers from these sign of happiness (Samovar et al., than people from other cultures
cultures tend to use fewer gestures and 2010). An understanding of these (Gamble & Gamble, 1998). To Arab
speak in a more restrained and subdued cultural differences can help public listeners a higher volume indicates
manner (Gamble & Gamble, 1998). speakers to gauge an audiences strength and sincerity, while speaking
emotional response or lack thereof. too softly implies that the speaker lacks
Speakers can also tailor their emotional confidence or is timid. On the other
display to the cultural context. hand, speaking softly is much

Chapter 14 Speaking to a Global Audience

appreciated by Asians. South Koreans age and cultural background based on

avoid talking loudly in any situation, as physical appearance (Ruben, 1992).
Wearing the correct dress for
it is seen as rude and unbecoming since These inferences in turn affect whether any occasion is a matter of
it tends to draw attention to ones self listeners are positively or negatively good manners.
(Cooper et al., 2007). predisposed to the speaker.
~ Loretta Young
A related and important In public speaking, the two main
paralinguistic device is silence. categories of physical appearance that
Hasegawa and Gudykunst (1998) found could affect audience perceptions are In terms of formality, the United
that culture influences the use of beauty and clothing, both of which can States has an informal culture where
silence. They found that in the United feed ethnocentrism. For instance, in professors on campuses and
States silence is used to mark a pause the United States, the cultural ideal of organizations in Silicon Valley often
or break in verbal communication. beauty tends to value the appearance of adopt casual dress codes. Some other
When meeting strangers, Americans tall, slender women and men with cultures such as in Japan and Germany
tend to be conscious of and muscular bodies. However, in many are more formal. Among corporate
uncomfortable with silence. On the parts of Africa, plumpness is valued as employees in Japan and in many Asian
other hand, for the Japanese, silence a sign of beauty (Gardiner & countries, there is a general proclivity
during verbal communication holds Kosmitzki, 2002). Interculturally for conservative dress styles that
immense meaning. Since the Japanese competent speakers guard against emphasize conforming to societys
place a lot of importance on culturally ingrained notions that could collectivistic nature (Samovar, Porter &
maintaining harmony and encourage impede communication. In addition, McDaniel, 2010). While addressing
indirectness and ambiguity to maintain competent speakers adapt their clothing audiences that place high importance
harmony, silence is often used to avoid for diverse audiences. on formal attires, competent speakers
directly saying no to a request. dress appropriately.

Yet another paralinguistic device, As emphasized throughout this

pitch refers to the highness or lowness chapter, the most important thing that
of a voice on a tonal scale. Varying interculturally competent public
pitch adds expressiveness to messages speakers must keep in mind is to be
and reveals information such as sensitive to differences among cultures
whether the speaker is asking a and to respect diversity. Successful
question or expressing concern. Many public speakers will research their
Asian languages such as Mandarin, audience and adapt as far as they can.
Thai and Vietnamese are tonal At the very least, public speakers must
languages in which the same syllable show respect for audience diversity
can take on different meanings while preparing and delivering
depending on the tone used to deliver speeches. This section has offered a
the sound. For instance, the meaning few examples of how non-verbal
of the word Ma could vary from Two of the most important cultural communication can vary across
mother to horse to grass or to issues regarding clothing are modesty cultures. Public speakers who need to
scold, depending on the tone used and formality. Culturally acceptable address a diverse audience must be
(Neuliep, 2006). Understanding these levels of modesty vary from culture to keenly aware of these variations among
paralinguistic devices and how they culture. For example, in Muslim cultures and employ culturally
apply to public speaking situations can communities, women are often appropriate kinesic behavior,
enhance the effectiveness of speeches. expected to wear loose fitting, flowing paralinguistic devices and dress
garments that do not reveal the appropriately.
Nothing strengthens authority contours of the body or expose parts of
so much as silence. it (Samovar, Porter & McDaniel, 2010),
and a woman may be expected to cover constructing visual aids
~ Leonardo da Vinci her head with a scarf or a hijab. While The more varied the listeners
delivering speeches to a diverse cultural backgrounds, the more
audience, competent speakers consider important it is for speakers to use visual
physical appearance materials to illustrate their ideas. Well-
The physical appearance of the culturally based sartorial preferences.
For instance, Hillary Clintons wearing chosen visual aids are especially useful
speaker can also affect speechmaking to help address language differences
to a diverse audience. This is because of a headscarf while on a trip to Cairo
was particularly appreciated in Cairo (Gamble & Gamble, 1998; Jaffe, 2004).
people often draw inferences about a However, interculturally competent
persons socio-economic status, gender, (Huffington Post, 2009).
public speakers are sensitive to the

Chapter 14 Speaking to a Global Audience

review questions and activities

review questions
1. List four reasons for learning how to speak to a global audience.

2. Identify three barriers to achieving intercultural communication competence and give examples of each
from your own or others experience.

3. Explain Halls concept of high- and low-context cultures and Hofstedes cultural dimensions. Drawing
on examples from your experience, explain how these cultural patterns can help you tailor your speech
to a diverse audience.

4. Distinguish between monochronic and polychronic time orientations and discuss how these might affect
a speech to an audience that is predominantly from a culture that follows polychronic time.

5. Discuss ways in which you can make the supporting materials for your speech inclusive and culturally

6. Name and explain, with examples, any two holistic patterns of speech organization.

7. What is the triangle of meaning? How does an understanding of this notion help you prepare to speak to
a global audience?

8. What is the difference between denotative and connotative meaning, and how does it affect speaking to
a global audience?

9. Explain two communication style preferences and discuss how these preferences would affect speaking
to a global audience.

10. What are the different aspects of body language that might affect speech delivery in a multi-cultural
context? Explain, with examples.

1. As you prepare your speech for a multicultural audience, it is important to stay conscious of cultural
patterns, yours as well as those of your audience. This will help you to become more aware of yourself
and avoid notions of ethnocentrism while preparing your speech. Imagine you are giving a sales
presentation to three groups, each consisting of Arabs, Japanese and British. How would you tailor your
speech to each audience?
2. The transcript of Martin Luther Kings speech I have a dream can be accessed at Analyze the organization pattern that has been used
to structure the speech and discuss your findings in class.

3. Watch a TED talk at in a language that you dont understand. Analyze the
nonverbal communication of the speaker and identify aspects of kinesics and paralanguage that the
speaker uses to effectively add to the verbal message.

Chapter 14 Speaking to a Global Audience


Connotative Meaning Kinesics Prejudice

A connotative meaning is the The study of body movement Prejudice refers to a negative
meaning you attach to a word including gestures, hand, arm attitude toward a cultural
based on your personal and leg movements, facial group, often based on little or
experiences and associations. expressions, eye contact and no experience.
Cultural Patterns stance or posture. Polychronic Time
Cultural patterns refer to Low-context Message Polychronic time refers to
common themes through A low-context message is one cyclical time. Time is less
which different cultures can where the message is tangible and is seldom
be understood. They consist encoded in the words used or considered wasted. People
of beliefs, values and norms in the verbal expression and from polychronic cultures
shared among a group of not as much in the context. can often be involved in
people and remain stable over Masculinity-Femininity multiple activities at the same
long periods of time. The dimension of time, with no strict division
Denotative Meaning masculinity-femininity refers among the different activities.
A denotative meaning is the to the degree to which a Spiral Pattern
socially agreed conventional culture values such behaviors A type of holistic pattern in
meaning found in a dictionary. as assertiveness and the which the speaker builds up
Ethnocentrism acquisition of wealth or dramatic intensity by moving
Ethnocentrism is the notion caring for others and the from smaller and less intense
that ones own culture is quality of others. scenarios to bigger and more
superior to any other. Monochronic Time intense scenarios, in an
High-context Message Monochronic time refers to upward spiral.
The meaning of the message linear time; is tangible and Star Pattern
is implied by the physical can be saved, spent, lost A type of holistic pattern, the
setting or is presumed to be wasted, etc. People from star pattern presents a set of
part of the cultures shared monochronic cultures tend to main points connected by an
beliefs, values and norms. focus on one thing at a time. underlying common theme.
Holistic Pattern Schedules and deadlines are For different audiences,
Holistic patterns, instead of sacrosanct, and punctuality is speakers will start with
directly and explicitly highly regarded. different main points.
presenting key ideas, use Paralanguage However, all main points will
examples and stories to Paralanguage refers to the be united by one theme.
convey the main idea and vocal cues that accompany Stereotype
leave it to the audience to spoken language such as A standardized conception or
interpret the message volume, rate and pitch. image of a group of people, a
encoded in the examples and Power Distance stereotype forces a simple
stories told. Power distance refers to the pattern upon a complex mass
Individualism-Collectivism degree to which the culture and assigns a limited number
The dimension of indivi- believes that institutional and of characteristics to all
dualism-collectivism refers to organizational power should members of a group.
the degree to which a culture be distributed unequally and Stereotypes are simple,
relies on and has allegiance the decisions of the power acquired, often erroneous and
to the self or the group. holders should be challenged resistant to change.
or accepted.

Chapter 14 Speaking to a Global Audience

Triangle of Meaning Uncertainty Avoidance Wave Pattern

Refers to the symbolic, Uncertainty avoidance index A type of holistic pattern that
arbitrary nature of language refers to the extent to which follows a crest-trough wave
wherein the word spoken or the culture feels threatened pattern where speakers use
the symbol of the actual by ambiguous, uncertain examples and stories to
object in nature (the referent), situations and tries to avoid slowly build up to the main
has no actual connection to them by establishing more point at the crest of the wave.
the object it represents. The structure.
symbol and the referent are
connected only by the
thought in ones mind.


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photo credits
p. 3 President Obama speaks at Cairo University,_Egypt_06-04-09.jpg
By Chuck Kennedy (Official White House Photo)

p. 5 USAID 50th anniversary event in Mali
By USAID Africa Bureau

p. 8 Audience at a book launch hosted by the African Gender Institute
By African Gender Institute

p. 8 Dialogue on Diversity Public Forum
By Congressman Honda