Depending on the occasion, a presentation in France can be either formal or very formal. For example, it is quite possible that the company head is present – regardless of whether they have been invited or not. That doesn’t mean that they are there to take control of everything. From a French point of view, the unsolicited appearance of the boss only signifies that they are standing by their team and sharing responsibility for what has been achieved. Moreover, the boss won’t speak, but will always let the responsible specialists have their say.
Starting a presentation
If you are giving a presentation to French business partners or colleagues, don’t waste time with meaningless chitchat. For instance, you don’t have to make jokes to break the ice. Introduce yourself briefly and concisely if you are not yet known to anyone.
The French are generally very pleased to hear you speak as a committed, motivated and witty presenter. Interestingly designed slides with examples, pictures and short films are also very welcome. Don’t get too hung up on dry numbers, dates and facts; you do not want to bore your French business partners.
It is also important that your presentation has a clear structure and the structure is logical. Therefore, give an overview at the beginning and state clearly where you are heading. French people like to construct their presentations according to an outline of the thesis, antithesis and synthesis. Do the same.
When you explain how you came to a result, feel free to go into more detail. You should also be very precise about what your reasoning is and how you came to your conclusions.
Take your time to respond to critical questions and provide any explanations asked for. If necessary, you should be able to fall back on more detailed backup slides. The French expect you to show connections. How do you get your results? This is where you should focus your attention.
And another important tip: Don’t get irritated when your French listeners check their e-mails during your presentation. This is not intended to be insulting in any way. They are listening to you, so don’t take it personally, but see it at most as an incentive to make your presentation even more exciting.