Twelve Top Tips for Training an International Audience
By Ron Kaufman
Training a worldwide audience can be a minefield of potential errors, missteps and disasters. Whether you have 30 or 300, it is likely that you will face men and women, old and young, company veterans and brand-new employees, locals and foreigners, married, single or recently divorced, and every possible mix of ethnic, religious and sexual persuasion. With a group like this, you can offend without intention, insult without meaning to, and alienate without even trying.
Avoid painful mistakes! Follow these twelve tips when you work with participants from around the world and you will find yourself with an attentive, involved and harmonious learning group.
1. Don?™t assume. Ask!
Don?™t assume everyone in the room is just like you or like anyone else! Acknowledge the diversity in the room. Highlight the rich range of life and business experience this group can represent.
Ask participants to share about themselves in small groups. Start with easy questions: business experience, educational background, places they have lived or worked. As conversation warms up, move to current business issues: ask their opinions on trends in the industry, entry of new competitors, products, technologies or government regulations. Then get right to the training topic at hand: have participants discuss expectations of the course, problems they need to solve, solutions they intend to discover.
Finally, when groups are well lubricated with rapport, ask participants to share about their personal lives ??family, hobbies, vacations and other special interests.
2. Speak very clearly and distinctly.
Your native tongue may not be the first language of all your audience members. Adjust your presentation style so everyone can easily follow.
Years ago I spoke in Australia in front of a large international audience. Eleven countries were represented with seven different languages. Simultaneous translation was provided for non-native English speakers. Energized by the crowd, I launched into a presentation of humorous stories, anecdotes, case studies and key learning points. Throughout the speech, I was pleased to hear the Japanese contingent laughing at all of my jokes.
Or so it seemed. After the presentation, one Japanese participant set me straight: I was speaking so quickly, the interpreter was unable to keep up. Instead of translating my presentation, he gave up and spent most of the time talking in Japanese about how funny it was to see this American fellow rushing about in a big hurry on stage! I laughed when I heard this report, but I certainly learned the lesson: With an international audience, s-l-o-w d-o-w-n, and speak very clearly.
3. Bridge the communication gap.