Very random cross-cultural speaking tips

Okay, this is quite random. I was just searching for an old email and found these tips I wrote when I was one of the leaders on a cross-cultural team in Bulgaria. It was a list of tips for the team regarding public speaking:

1. Speak with confidence (try not to "ummm..." or "welllll..." so much).
2. Keep hands out of your pockets (it's considered rude here, even when just standing around on the street; pockets are for things, not hands). Never ever cross your arms in front of an audience.
3. Try not to say "you guys..." (e.g. "We've really had a great time with you guys...").
4. Try to put across the fact that we are here to learn about others first and then we would like them to also learn something about us.
5. Look attentive during meetings; even though you don't understand a word of what is said, it's impolite to daze off. There is a certain art to doing this that may take years to master.
6. If you say what state you are from, be sure to add " the United States." (e.g. if you say "I'm from Georgia" here, people will assume you are from The Republic of Georgia).
7. Even when the translator is translating, you are still "speaking." Be sure to retain contact with the listeners.
8. Even if you (as a team) don't know what you are doing next on stage, try to make it appear like you are all "on plan" (try to maintain the appearance that you have everything worked out; first we will speak a bit, then sing, then so and so will give a testimony; rather than conferring after everything you do).
9. This is where you are "on point." Try to maintain enthusiasm; this meeting may be the only time this group of people meet the team; even though you are exhausted, it's important to give a good presentation of yourselves and be enthusiastic (this is a cardinal rule of all presentations).
10. If something happens that is an English linguistic mistake, try not to laugh or make note of it; people will not understand why you are laughing.
11. Don't "bumble about." It's distracting to the people watching. Try to be as smooth as possible with your physical movements and transitions on and off stage.
12. Gentlemen should let ladies enter and exit the stage first.
13. Hands to the sides or in "praise the LORD" mode whilst singing (definitely not in pockets).

This was all for a project through the American Baptist Mission Board; I did month-long cultural immersion trips with them in Japan, Bulgaria, and the Czech Republic. I did media for the trips but sort of wish I had it all to do over again with the tools that are available today! I came across another email on suggestions for brands of MiniDV tape but somehow think that's probably not especially relevant anymore. 

Open Letter from Quakers Australia on Marriage Plebiscite

This was posted today as an open response to the Marriage Equality Plebiscite from Quakers Australia:

The Religious Society of Friends, commonly known as Quakers, supports the right of adult couples in loving and committed relationships to marry, regardless of gender. We also support the right of such couples to have their marriages accorded equal recognition and respect under the law of Australia.

Our faith prompts us to recognise the divine in all people. It is a basic Quaker principle that all people are equal in the Spirit. As part of the journey to live our faith, we have worked to support the equal treatment of all persons regardless of sex, race or religion. The way has been hard at times, and we recognise that true equality will always remain a direction to be travelled rather than a destination to be reached.

In 2010 Australian Quakers came together and agreed to celebrate marriages within our Meetings regardless of the sexual orientation or gender of the partners. Quakers have long held that marriage “is the Lord’s work and we are but witnesses”. The question before us was simply whether to open our hearts to these marriages that already existed among us.

The law currently prevents Quakers from facilitating the same legal recognition for same-sex marriages that we do for other marriages. This legal prohibition is fundamentally inconsistent with Quaker faith and practice. True religious freedom would encompass the freedom to include, celebrate and recognise the commitments of LGBTIQ couples, as both spiritual and legal marriages.

We recognise that everyone will be at a different point in the journey. Some have purported to speak on behalf of all Christians in opposing marriage equality. Such people do not speak for us. We invite them to continue to follow their path with integrity, while asking that they recognise that their way is not for all people of faith.

Quakers consider that a majority vote in a voluntary public poll is an inappropriate way to decide the legal rights of minorities who are subject to discrimination. We are also concerned about the impacts on LGBTIQ people, their children and families. But if such a vote is held, we encourage everyone to open their hearts, to choose love over fear, and to support marriage equality in Australia.

Jo Jordan
Presiding Clerk
Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in Australia

Australia Yearly Meeting Office
119 Devonshire St
Surry Hills NSW 2010
P: 0403 913 719


Click on this link for my own thoughts on the matter...The Homosexuals Aren't Coming for Your Children.