Teaching Public Speaking in China

by Gilda Bonanno LLC http://www.gildabonanno.com/

I recently returned from China, where I conducted training for a U.S.-based company that has global operations, including a large presence in Asia and a branch in Shanghai. 

It was a multi-day Career Development program for high-potential employees, 3-5 years into their careers, and the participants focused on understanding their strengths and weaknesses, setting career goals and understanding the business by participating in a business simulation.

There were several instructors and my main focus was teaching presentation skills and communication skills, which are essential skills for success in any career - and also essential in this program because they had to present a strategic operating plan to a real panel of company executives on the last day.

The participants came from China, Japan, Korea, Thailand and India and they had to present in English, which for most was a second or even third or fourth language.  Beyond the language, however, the participants had the same issues that I have found when teaching public speaking in the United States (as well as in Canada, Mexico and Europe):
  • dealing with nerves and developing confidence, especially when presenting to senior leadership
  • conveying a clear, concise message instead of overwhelming the audience with too much information
  • using non-verbals effectively, such as speaking loudly and clearly enough to be heard and understood
  • practicing in as close to the real environment as possible (doing a "dress rehearsal")
And as with participants from any country, there are no magic answer or quick solutions - but progress in public speaking can be made by focusing on the right things, organizing the material around a key message and practicing.

Here is an email I received after the program from one of the participants:

"I take this opportunity to thank you for the knowledge you delivered during the training.

I gave a 10-mins. presentation about 'safety in sports' last Friday during the monthly China meeting, that's 150 people includes my bosses.

'Eye contact, louder voice, confidence, smile and the internal desire to share the knowledge with my colleagues' makes a successful presentation. That's my first time and what you taught me helped me a lot!

I'm beginning to like the feeling of speaking publicly.
W.Q., Project Engineer, Shanghai

For photos from my trip, check out this blog post - http://gildabonanno.blogspot.com/2010/12/gildas-photos-from-shanghai-china.html

Gilda Bonanno's blog www.gildabonanno.blogspot.com