There are over 7,000 living languages in the world. Because of the nuances of each language, the messages created across different countries need to be communicated differently. While language barriers can be relatively easy to overcome either through translation or the use of a common language, dealing with cultural differences is a bit more complicated.
This article focuses on how to give an event welcome speech in Asia without breaking any public speaking rules.
A speech for an event in Asia: How is it special?
From China to Singapore, each country on the map of Asia has its own specific features of event management that one should understand to create the right experience for attendees. There is a common misconception that since an event is attended by people from lots of different places, it’s not really important to follow local traditions. Well, not exactly. First of all, the Asia-Pacific region has become a meeting point for millions of speakers and event-goers for several reason. From excellent infrastructure to the richness of cultures and cuisines, there are many benefits that this region offers. Ignoring tradition means colouring everything black and white. No one wants that.
In addition, studying the local traditions of public speaking is important because you might need to invite local speakers. Providing them with the appropriate capabilities for speaking is the first step to success.
Here are only some of the differences that make Asian public speaking unique:
- According to Mary Power’s study on the culture of speeches, to interact as efficiently as possible, Americans are used to speaking a lot. In the Chinese and Vietnamese tradition, however, you’ll usually speak as little as possible to avoid any conflicts.
- Strong emotion is not characteristic for a speech given by an Asian and neither is the habit of expressing personal opinions publicly.
- Japanese culture is considered the most formal of all, so politeness, organisation, and a tendency to apologise a lot are the defining features of public speaking in Japan.
Writing a speech for an event in Asia step by step
It’s certain that the tone, structure, and style of a speech are also dependent on the type of event. Whether you are in Tokyo or Hong Kong, you’ll have to make your speech sound formal if it’s a government meeting. At the same time, the language of tech conferences is getting friendlier across different cultures. Therefore, a perfect opening speech should be based on the alignment of tradition and style.
Check out our short guide to structuring your welcome speech in the right way:
Setting the mood for the whole event is an imperative task. Without an attention-grabbing introduction, it’s hard to keep the audience focused on the speech. So what should you include? Here are some ideas that usually work for the opening part of a speech:
- Greeting: “Hi, my dear friends” does not always work in countries such as Japan and China, which is why we recommend exploring the local traditions of greetings beforehand.
- Introducing yourself: People will want to know who you are and why you are the first one to speak, but it’s important not to overdo this part. Since speaker bios can usually be found on the event website, it’s enough to just state your name and the name of the company or organisation you represent.
- Expressing gratitude: An opening speech is usually given by an organiser, but there is always more than one person who worked hard to make the event experience perfect. The introduction is the best time to demonstrate your appreciation of these people.
A catchy hook: In his opening remarks for the AI Now Symposium 2017, Joi Ito grabbed the attention of the audience with a remarkable quote about people and machines that explained the idea behind the event. If the format of your event allows such a hook, that’s a super smart thing to do.
Saying thank you is really something you should be focused on when writing a speech for an event in Asia. Hierarchical traditions that are very much alive in China and the Asian “bowing” culture indicate one important trend: People expect respect and they strive to demonstrate their respect as often as possible. Think about a good way to say a special thanks to your partners, event organisers, or guests of honour. One useful tactic is to align acknowledgements with a short, engaging story about “how it all started”.
Let’s make this clear: Explaining the content and goals of each upcoming session or activity is not eloquent. Focus on one primary objective that explains why the event is actually happening, and make sure it’s of actual value for your guests. For instance, if it’s a conference about AI, you can say that after attending the key sessions, the attendees will understand which skills or professions their kids should seek to be competitive in the job market in 40 years.
This is a short one: Wish everyone a great event experience, and then move on to the next part of the event. At this stage, you can briefly reiterate your welcome message, introduce the next speaker(s), or inform the audience about the upcoming sessions.
Your knowledge of local public speaking traditions will help you understand how to write a winning speech for your event in Asia. If integrated with the regional features of event management, these four simple steps will help you make each speech truly impactful.