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Q: We’ve built our export food company by making lots of repeat small sales to small companies all around the world.

We now need a multimedia presentation in at least 6 languages to reach these customers in a more professional way.

The problem is that although many of our customers do not speak any of the major languages and have English as a second language.

We also need to send the presentation through the post.

What do you advise?

Marketing Manager
Food Exporter

A: The problem here is not that your customers only speak English as a second language. It’s probable that their comprehension of English (or French, Spanish, Italian, or German) is much better when they’re reading text on a page – when they can take their time – rather than hearing English spoken as voiceover, which is too fast for many people.

In fact, a spoken message will probably induce incomprehension, closely followed by boredom, or ill-will.

Likewise, you can get trouble by using bullet points. Although bullets might convey some of the message you’re trying to convey, they won’t feel satisfying as it’ll all feel too abbreviated.

What I’d recommend is presentation slides with the English written out in full.

While this runs completely contrary to current thinking in multimedia presentation, you at least know that the full English sentence has the best chance of being understood. And since communication is our aim, then this has to be the way forward.

I’d also recommend a click-through presentation rather than one that autoruns through every slide, as this will allow the user to select their own pace, and even stop to open a dictionary to check a word if required.
© Studio Rossiter 2006

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