Public Speaking for the Commercial Diplomat
Eve Connell & Jill Stoffers
The International Commercial Diplomacy Project, Inc. TABLE OF CONTENTS Preface
Commercial Diplomacy & the Commercial Diplomat
Public Speaking as a Professional Skill: Why DevelopPublic Speaking Skills?
Common Types of CD Presentations
CD Specific Issues and Considerations for Presentations
Public Speaking Skills - Tips And GuidelinesPREFACE
The International Commercial Diplomacy Project (ICDP) develops and disseminates world-class
training materials for commercial diplomats. Commercial diplomacy is a relatively new field
encompassing policy advocacy, policymaking, and negotiations in international trade and
investment. To strengthen professional training in commercial diplomacy, the ICDP has created
model curricula, course outlines, teaching modules, case studies, negotiating simulations, and
model operational documents, and has published these training tools on its website,
This manual serves three separate objectives. First, it is designed to help trade policy
practitioners to improve their presentation skills. Second, it is designed as a teaching manual for
seminars and courses. Third, it is designed to give both the practitioner and the student a useable
reference guide to other pedagogical resources.
The manual has been a collective effort. The initial draft was prepared by Eve Connell, a
professional in communications techniques, graduate school instructor (Monterey Institute of
International Studies) in Public Speaking, and business communications instructor at California
State University, Monterey Bay. The manual was first edited by Jill Stoffers, a graduate of the
master’s degree program in Commercial Diplomacy at the Monterey Institute of International
Studies, and Geza Feketekuty, President of the International Commercial Diplomacy Project,
founder of the graduate program in Commercial Diplomacy at the Monterey Institute, and a retired
senior U.S. trade official.
Though the author and editor are American, they avoided an American-centric approach to
provide a guide that best reflects global practice. Some degree of cultural bias is unavoidable,
however. In particular, there is an American cultural bias towards direct and focused
communication, and a presentation style that is lively and extroverted. Such a direct approach
may not be the most appropriate form of communication in all cultural settings. In the future, ICDP
plans to add regional supplements, as appropriate.
In order to avoid a gender bias, the author and editor alternate between the use of the pronouns
he and she. The author and editor welcome comments from students and professionals alike.
This is a work in progress and can always benefit from a broader set of insights.COMMERCIAL DIPLOMACY & THE COMMERCIAL DIPLOMAT
Commercial diplomacy is diplomacy with a commercial twist-diplomacy designed to influence
foreign government policy that affects global trade and investment. Commercial diplomacy
encompasses the analysis, advocacy and negotiating chain leading to international agreements
on the increasingly diverse set of trade-related issues.
The number of people involved in making and influencing trade policy has grown in tandem with
the number of issues covered by trade negotiations. In today's increasingly interdependent world,
trade negotiations address a broad range of government regulations and actions that affect
international commerce. They cover, for example:
q Tariffs, quotas, and customs procedures.
q Health, safety, and consumer and environmental protection standards.
q Regulation of such service industries as banking, telecommunications and accounting.
q Laws concerning fair competition, bribery, and corruption.
q Industry specific subsidy programs such as agricultural support programs.
The most visible commercial diplomats are those who work in ministries of trade and industry-
those who negotiate international trade and investment agreements and resolve policy conflicts
that impact international commerce. Commercial diplomacy skills are also required, however, by
officials in other government departments and international organizations that have a stake in
trade policy, including those concerned with foreign affairs, finance, agriculture, industry, labor,
health, environmental protection, bank regulation, telecommunications, air transportation, and the
licensing of professionals. Finally, commercial diplomacy skills are required by professionals and
managers in the following fields of work:
q Corporate government relations departments.
q Overseas subsidiaries that interact with host government officials on a daily basis.
q Industry associations.
q Non-governmental organizations.
Because these individuals have a stake in the outcome of trade policy decisions, they engage in
the domestic and global analyses, and advocacy and coalition-building processes that precede
negotiations on international trade and investment issues. In order to influence this process, they
need to be effective public speakers. PUBLIC SPEAKING AS A PROFESSIONAL TOOL: WHY DEVELOP PUBLIC SPEAKING SKILLS?
Commercial diplomacy encompasses the entire analysis, advocacy and negotiating chain leading
to international agreements on trade-related issues. Commercial diplomacy is all about
persuasion, for which presentations play a vital role. The commercial diplomat must make
effective use of such communicative advocacy tools such as public testimony, speeches,
interviews, and debates. Learning to create and present public presentations effectively is critical
to the commercial diplomat and her ability to negotiate effectively.
Public presentation skills are key to success in almost any profession, but particularly in
commercial diplomacy. Effective communication with professionals in business, law, the media,
academia, and politics is expected of the commercial diplomat. Public speaking skills are needed
not only to make professional presentations at conferences and to the press, but also to build
professional networks, another key to success in the business. In their work, commercial
diplomats face a particular challenge: much of their communication takes place with people from
other cultures with different communication styles and native languages. This underscores the
need to develop excellent public speaking skills.
Typical presentations by trade policy professionals require the audience to absorb a great deal of
information in a short period of time. These presentations must clearly convey the essential
information on complex issues. Working in a highly interdependent arena, commercial diplomats
are required to clearly explain complicated issues such as the:
q Commercial interests at stake
q Domestic policy issues relevant to trade issues
q Macro-economic impact of alternative policy options
q Interests of stakeholders and their political influence
q Applicable domestic and international legal provisions
q Impact of media coverage on public opinion.
The challenge is to convey the essence of the most important factors driving a case, while
convincing the audience of proposed courses of action. An accomplished professional in
commercial diplomacy can often exert an influence far beyond his or her policy-making authority.
This manual provides the aspiring commercial diplomat with guidelines for making presentations
in the field. Early sections cover distinguishing features of public speaking for commercial
diplomacy and presentation basics. Later sections cover the particular characteristics of public
speaking events, contexts and concerns.PRESENTATION SKILLS
To deliver a message effectively, the presenter must consider the following six factors, each of
which we examine in detail:
To deliver a message effectively, the presenter must consider the following six factors, each of
which we examine in detail:
q Audience and context
q Language and delivery
q TechnologyAudience and Context
In developing a presentation, the speaker must first consider the audience. In addition to the age,
gender, and ethnicity of the intended audience, the speaker should have a feel for its socio-
economic and educational status, political party and/or religious affiliation, position on the
presented topic, values and beliefs related to the presented subject matter, scope of knowledge,
and expectation of the speaker, the topic, and the speaking event itself. An awareness of each of
these "personal" factors will affect language, delivery and content choices a speaker makes when
designing a speech for public consumption. These are of particular importance to the CD
professional who speaks on sensitive topics that may also encompass cross-cultural issues.
The context of the event must be familiar to the speaker as well. Context includes the venue's
physical space (e.g., auditorium lay-out, floor plan, podium), equipment usage (e.g., computer for
PowerPoint slides, overhead projector, VCR/TV, microphone, lighting), speech format (e.g.,
individual speech, panel presentation, debate, media/interpreter presence), and timing
considerations (e.g., progression of speakers, time limit of speech, time of day).
Whenever possible it is best for the speaker to practice in the event venue. Familiarity with one's
surroundings, including equipment, lighting and audience proximity, can only help ease speaker
apprehension. If it is not possible to practice in the actual event space, the speaker should
simulate the environment as accurately as possible and practice delivering the presentation as he
would to the audience. A dress rehearsal will enhance any speaker's final performance.Content
Whether delivering an informal brief or formal, televised public hearing, the presenter typically is
given a topic and parameters (theme, time limits, order of presentation, level of formality, etc.) to
follow. In some cases the topic is thoroughly outlined. For example, a CD professional may be
asked to prepare a five-minute summation of committee hearings. Here the focus is narrow. The
presentation should be short but hit all the main points of the issue. In another case a CD
professional may be invited to speak to industry association stakeholders. This type of
presentation allows the speaker to decide on the content, though there still are parameters of
which to make note.
When developing content, carefully consider the following:
q Who is the audience? The content must be appropriate for the audience. Always keep in
mind the audience's implied question, "What's in it for me?"
q Discuss what you know. You have been asked to present because of your expertise or
q Discuss what you find interesting. The audience will immediately know if you are excited
about the subject or not. Your enthusiasm (or lack thereof) will keep or lose the audience's
q Choose material that is new, noteworthy, or relevant. This is especially important for "old
news" subjects. Make the audience understand that this is not just the same old speech,
but that you have something new to offer-ideas, perspectives, facts, and analyses.
q Take into account opposing viewpoints and address them in an appropriate way: Compare
and contrast, provide objective evidence to refute, and offer your supporting research or
experience if facts are not available to support your views.
q Refer back to the audience. Remind them why they should be listening and what they
should be taking away.Opposing Viewpoints
Any prepared speaker will consider opposing viewpoints, especially when discussing sensitive
and controversial issues. This consideration not only helps the speaker in the preparatory stages,
but also aids a speaker in the question and answer period. Content should be chosen carefully to
show that the speaker is an expert on the subject she is presenting. Take the following steps to
prepare for opposing viewpoints:
q Brainstorm all possible arguments
q Rank them in order of importance or magnitude
q Addressing the major opposition in the body of the speech. Offer examples of why the
view is inapplicable, unfounded, or misapplied.
There is usually at least one person who disagrees with all or part of your presentation.
Remember to stay calm, present your information in a professional manner, and answer
questions in a respectful, appropriate way. Practice answering tough, hard-hitting questions with
rebuttals that illustrate your points.
At most engagements, the speaker is formally introduced. It is the speaker's responsibility to
provide appropriate information to the conference organizers and media. A good introduction
should include the basics-the speaker's name, title, position, authority on the subject, and the
topic of the speech.
The key to a successful message is to organize content in a logical progression. Even the
shortest "speech"-such as a news brief or debate answer-should have an introductory statement,
body, and a conclusion.
The introductory section must include at least the following:
· Grabber or hook
· Purpose of speech
· Main idea or topic introduction
· Agenda for what's to come in the presentation
The grabber or hook is the short opener that makes or breaks a speech. Grabbers can be
questions, facts or statistics, a narrative, an introduction of a problem or a current issue. Speakers
are encouraged to be creative but not to stray from the focus of the speech. The point is to draw
audience members in-and hold their attention throughout.
The purpose statement comes soon after the grabber. The audience needs to know WHY the
speaker is interested in the topic and WHY they should listen (audience members think, "what's in
it for me?"). In the purpose statement you tell the audience what to get from the speech-should
they learn something? Should they agree with you at the conclusion? Should they take action?
The main idea or topic of a speech is WHAT the speaker will address.
The agenda is more specifically what will be covered and in what order (e.g., "my three main
points today consist of…"). The agenda reveals HOW information will be organized and
presented. A clear progression of numbered or lettered subjects and their divisions is very helpful.
A solid agenda can smoothly lead both the speaker and audience into the main content section of
The main content section must include, at a minimum, the following elements:
q Body "paragraphs"
q Cohesive devices and transitional links
q Examples and details
The body of any successful speech offers a clear progression of topics, with bold opening
statements introducing each section. Limit yourself to four to seven main points. The audience will
most likely remember only a few.
The points in the body of a speech need to follow the order of the agenda. Each section of the
body should have a topic sentence that relates to the overall thesis. All facts, evidence, and
details should carefully and clearly support the claims made in the speech. Links between
sections must be clear and cohesive-remind the audience what it is you are talking about. For
example, instead of saying "My next point is…" use a more content-embedded approach like "The
second reason why it is imperative that China's human rights abuses are considered before
allowing entry into the WTO is…". Remind the audience what you are discussing.
The concluding section must include, at a minimum, the following elements:
q Reiteration of main points and theme
q Relation to current topics of discussion
q Future implications
q Lead-in to the discussion or question and answer (Q&A) period
As good speeches begin with an effective grabber or hook, they end by coming full-circle. For
instance, if you began with a question, quote or narrative, reiterate its importance to your
audience. It adds impact, reminds the audience of your main point, and ties together the entire
presentation. Tie-in the speech topic to current events, if relevant and appropriate. Give the
audience something to "chew on." Most policy-oriented presentations end with recommendations
and future projections. Remember to leave your audience with a message that offers lasting
impact and naturally leads them into a discussion or question and answer period, if the event calls
Question and answer (Q&A) sessions can be grueling, entertaining or both. Be calm, courteous,
attentive and focused on sending the correct information to the audience via this two-way
communication process. After the last question and answer exchange, take additional time to sum
up main points and ideas. This is to ensure that the audience will leave the event with the
speaker's words and ideas in mind-not the last question and answer that was discussed. For
maximum impact and presence, repeat your theme, summarize the most important findings and
thank your audience for their time and participation.Language and Delivery
Public speaking is personal. Even in official settings, a speaker's charisma, ethos, and character
reveals itself. Overall image and style as much as content construct a speech that carries weight
and conveys professionalism.
A speaker's commitment and interest in a topic will shine through-or not-through language and
delivery. Be clear on the kind of impression you hope to make and try your best to convey this
feeling with language, tone, and delivery. The language must be appropriate to the audience.
Tone is also important. For example, the tone used when explaining a fait accompli is very
different from the tone used when trying to persuade a group to change their opinion and take
action. Likewise, the delivery of the presentation helps convey the message. There is a big
difference between a conversational and an authoritative tone-the latter is more appropriate when
discussing a controversial issue. Observe seasoned speakers to gain a sense of the impact of
language, tone, and delivery-there may be some key elements you can make your own.Language and Audience Attention
The language and delivery style of one's speech can make the difference between retaining and
losing the audience's attention. One of the best ways to focus on language and delivery is to
videotape speeches-your own and professional speakers'-and review these two areas. Self-
analysis is one of the most effective tools for marked improvements in presentation style.
Keep the audience engaged by using personal pronouns. Using "we" and "us" instead of "I" and
"me" may keep the audience with you. Ask rhetorical or "active" questions. Use narrative to relate
shared or familiar experiences. Likewise, carefully use jargon, colloquialisms and other "non-
standard" language. An audience that cannot understand or follow examples will not pay
Thinking Out Loud
Spoken language is vastly different from written discourse. When preparing a presentation think
and speak rather than write speech notes. Jot notes in an outline format noting main points and
underlining key words or phrases. If you must write down every word, make sure to practice
enough in front of an audience (or into a tape recorder) so that it doesn't sound "canned." Try to
imitate a conversation and get away from a stiff, stiltedstyle. Even though speeches may be
carefully planned, written, and read off of TelePrompTer's, the speaker should never sound like
he is reading a script.
Vocabulary choices need to be clear, concise, vivid, concrete and correct, especially in the world
of international commercial diplomacy. Using correct language is vital to overall comprehension.
This is especially true when working with speakers of other languages. A speaker must consider
how to best promote imagery in the minds of her audience members-listeners need to see and
feel the message. Check the meaning of all key words and be sure to clearly define and to not
overuse acronyms and "industry specific" terminology and jargon, especially when working with
the media and/or interpreters. It is vital to the integrity of the speech to speak clearly and
concisely. Wordiness and convoluted sentences certainly confuse the audience and/or an
interpreter. Such miscommunication leads to grave misunderstandings and potentially serious
policy implications. Consider how lawyers speak at a deposition; they use strong and precise
words, short, hard-hitting sentences and phrases, and vivid imagery. Make every effort to choose
and use effective vocabulary.
Voice and Pronunciation
As for vocal quality and features, the professional speaker should be familiar with the following
q Pitch: vocal placement on a musical scale
q Volume: voice's projection and loudness
q Rate: speed of speech
q Vocal Variety: not monotone!
q Articulation: individual speech sounds
q Pronunciation: saying words correctly
q Enunciation: contextual articulation and pronunciation of words Non-Verbal Language
Language choices aside, non-verbal cues add or detract from a presenter and his message. Body
language, gestures, eye contact, posture, and poise communicate subtleties of a speaker's
message. Consider examples of non-verbal behavior that aid in understanding:
q Direct eye contact with audience members conveys sincerity that words cannot.
q Moving out from behind the podium conveys honesty.
q Sitting comfortably conveys a sense of being at ease with the audience and the topic of
q Body language and other non-verbal cues add to the message being conveyed.
Unfortunately, these non-verbal components can detract as much as they add. Consider these
q Jingling change in your pockets distracts the audience attention from the message.
q Fidgeting conveys nervousness.
q Staring down at the podium conveys several messages: nervousness, dishonesty, and
Paying close attention to these non-verbal cues when practicing a presentation will help you
convey your intended message to the audience. Additionally, try to always offer natural facial
expressions, gestures, body movements, and direct eye contact with audience members to make
everyone feel comfortable. Pauses allow the speaker to collect his thoughts and the audience to
absorb information. Professional attire should not be overlooked. Dress should never detract from
the speaker or his message. Try not to completely subdue your personal style, but err on the
conservative side by avoiding too much jewelry, loud colors and patterns, and inappropriate
styles, especially when the speech is being televised.
There are also certain rules of etiquette in different regions. Eastern and western speakers have
different styles. The onus rests on the professional to determine which style or mode of
presenting works best for any given audience. Technology
Professional presentations are enhanced with carefully used audiovisual (AV) equipment.
However, simply preparing the content is not enough: Be familiar with all AV equipment before
you attempt to use it in a professional, public forum and always have "Plan B," extra overhead
projector slides, handouts, or backup for Power Point. If something can go wrong, it probably will.
Remember that visual aids are effectively used to enhance the message, not to overtake the
message-use them sparingly and effectively. COMMON TYPES of CD PRESENTATIONS
The most common types of speeches and presentations are meant to inform or to
persuade—or both. These two main types of public speaking can be packaged differently,
depending on the overall goals of the speaker. Negotiations, public hearings, and briefs certainly
are more persuasive, while television interviews, panel presentations, and testimony may only
serve to inform. Students and practitioners often have the opportunity to give basic informative
and/or persuasive speeches; thus, a brief overview of each is covered.
Speeches to Inform
The goal of informative speaking is to impart knowledge. Consider informative speaking as a
“teaching event”. The audience is present to learn new and interesting information on important
and relevant topics. Informative speeches include: speeches of demonstration
, which show an
audience how to do something; speeches of description
, which tell an audience about the
“physicality” of something; and speeches of explanation
, which introduce a new and often
Informative speeches can be effectively designed in six different ways. Categorical
divided into segments or parts, such as the US taxation system (federal, state, local). Spatial
speeches represent topics as they occur in physical space (civic center floor plan). Sequential
topics are introduced as a set of guidelines or procedure to follow (decision-making guidelines
within a governmental body). Historical
topics are introduced from earliest date to most recent
(events that led up to the creation of the WTO). Comparison
speeches compare something old
with something new (diesel fuel cars vs. electric cars). Causation
show how one
condition generates or is generated by another (acid rain).
(Speech designs and categories from: Verderber, R. F. 1997) Links
For current transcripts of informative and persuasive speeches and public testimony, visit
For current transcripts of informative speeches visit http://www.undp.org/dpa/statements/list.html
December 2, 2001, John J. Sweeney — Civil and Human Rights Conference
February 26, 2001, Child Poverty and Meeting the 2015 Targets —
October 22, 2001, Forum of Environment Ministers —
January 17, 2001, Canada Equipped to Compete, Finance Minister in New York
- Public Speaking for the Commercial Diplomat