If you are not familiar with your intended audience, you might ask in your pre-program research,
or questionnaire How diverse is your group? What are some of the characteristics of the members from each of the countries represented? The answers to these questions will help you plan your strategy for connecting with a particular audience.
When I was doing my planning for a presentation in Washington, D.C., I found out that 25 percent of the audience was Asian Indian. I knew very little about the Indian culture and didn't have long to plan. What I did know was that the Dunkin' Donuts store located near my home was owned and operated by Indians. That was a good excuse to stop in, down a few eclairs, and do some research. I told the proprietor what I was trying to accomplish and he was glad to help. Out of all the information he gave me about humor in India, I only used one line. That was all it took to connect.
The line was, "I want to tell all my new Indian friends I'm sorry Johnny Lever couldn't make it." Johnny Lever was one of the top comedians in India. They lit up and I went on with the program.
If your local donut shop isn't run by the appropriate nationality for your next presentation, don't worry. There are other sure-fire methods to get the information you need. If you are presenting out of the country, get the opinion of local people before you attempt to use humor. If you are presenting in the U.S., seek out members of the nationality to whom you are presenting. If you don't happen to know any, you can always call their embassy. I've called our State Department, The World Bank and even Voice of America for information. Just tell the receptionist you want to speak to someone from the country of interest. Don't forget to tell them you want to converse in English.
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