Giving talks and holding presentations in Brazil

In their presentations, Brazilians often use the diminutive and even apologise expressly. This is due to their indirect communication style. Even their tone of voice, pauses, gestures and facial expressions may sometimes give their business partners from other countries the impression that they are not competent enough. When attending a Brazilian presentation, allow plenty of time, be patient with a positive sense of calm, especially when the speaker does not get straight to the point. Falling asleep is embarrassing, and in no way, in contrast to Asia for example, socially acceptable.

Use ice breakers

When you speak in front of a Brazilian audience, even if the main presentation is going to be in English, it is best to break the ice by addressing your listeners, both at the beginning and at the end, in Portuguese or Portunhol. Any handouts that accompany your presentation should be created using Portuguese too. This will demonstrate empathy and interest in the country, its culture and people. Brazilians place a very high value on this. Similarly, you make sure that at least the key points of any presentation in English are understood correctly.

PowerPoint or not?

Brazilians love PowerPoint as well as a lively presentation style with humour and lots of pictures. Sober, dry presentations with too many numbers lead to boredom very quickly. If you plan to deliver a lecture to a large conference or congress, you should rely on the services of an experienced Brazilian presentation coach to meet the demands of your particular audience. On the other hand however, in the public sector, for example in government agencies, factual lectures are the rule. In this case, the relevance of a presentation and accompanying documents is demonstrated primarily by its duration or its scope. Members of the old-guard, as well as higher officials, tend to try and shine through their speech, rather than PowerPoint.

Product presentations

Product presentations are usually held at the client’s site. Your chances of a successful presentation increase if you have already established a good personal relationship with the local organiser. Only he is able to ensure that the right participants are present and that your presentation not only takes place because it would have been impolite to reject you. As a speaker, in order to better achieve your sales goals, you should integrate Brazilian values such as the feeling of community, national pride and prestige in your presentation. Your charts should not drill down too deeply into details: it is better to submit technical information orally, as what is said is of greater importance than what is written. Moreover, during presentations in general (and particularly in Brazil) it is crucial to address the audience directly, making eye contact with them, as well as allowing intermediate questions. If you let a presentation run longer than 15 to 20 minutes, you run the risk of losing your Brazilian audience.

In order to secure the success of your product presentation, as well as of any meeting whatsoever, good follow-up is necessary. It is very important to keep in touch, otherwise your presentation will be soon forgotten.

Markus Hasenfratz
Gerardo Müller Albán

+49 (0)711 722 468 44
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