Cultural Differences in Body Language for International Business Presentations
“Body language is a very powerful tool. We had body language before we had speech, and apparently, 80% of what you understand in a conversation is read through the body, not the words.” (Deborah Bull).
Effective communication is essential for successful international cooperation in the modern, globalized business environment. Trade and business between cultures are becoming commonplace as nations try to increase their soft power through trade and negotiations. It is crucial to understand that nonverbal communication, especially body language, can differ dramatically across cultures when giving corporate presentations. Eye contact and gestures, among other nonverbal behaviors, serve a variety of crucial roles, including:
- Sending emotional states;
- Communicating interpersonal attitudes, notably closeness and status; and
- Controlling discussion (Le France, 2002).
Building rapport, avoiding misunderstandings, and fostering fruitful business relationships can all be facilitated by comprehending and adjusting to these cultural variances in body language. According to Forbes (2019), body language accounts for more than 50% of communication. There isn’t much place in between when it comes to body language; it either works for you or against you. What kind of body language is therefore helpful? Well, a lot of research has been done on nonverbal communication. This research has discovered a wide range of results on the kind of body language that best illustrate a point, demonstrate confidence, and help explain a difficult-to-understand subject.
Research can explain how certain body language can improve your business communication in situations like pitches when it directly relates to business contexts. In this article, we’ll look at some essential tips for negotiating cultural differences in body language during presentations to overseas clients.
- Expressions and Eye Contact:
Currently in the world, 18% people use Apple products, and its not a surprise considering Steve Jobs’ excellent product presentations. Of Course the fancy presentation and props help but the biggest factor is his prolonged eye-contact that keeps his audience engaged and stakeholders interested.
According to psychological research, perceived eye contact affects cognition and attention. The ‘eye contact effect’ is a phenomenon in which perception of eye contact with another person’s face modifies some elements of the cognitive processing that is happening simultaneously and/or just thereafter (Senju, 2009). When expressing emotions and attitudes, facial expressions are crucial. The way that different cultures view them can change, though. While some cultures support an outward expression of emotion, others can favour a more subdued approach. You can determine the proper amount of expressiveness throughout your presentation by being aware of these cultural variances. You may maintain a professional and culturally aware demeanour by paying attention to your facial expressions. In tandem, Direct and extended eye contact is commonly expected as a show of respect and attention in several cultures. However, prolonged eye contact may be viewed as aggressive or disrespectful in some cultures. To build trust and engagement, modify your eye contact habits to fit the cultural norms of your audience.
- Silence and Pauses:
In presentations, silence and pauses can play a variety of roles depending on the culture. While some cultures view prolonged silence as embarrassing or uncomfortable, others cherish it as a method to ponder and digest information. You may strike the correct balance and prevent misunderstandings throughout your presentation by being aware of the culture your clients belong to and understand their reactions around silence.