WHEN working with virtual teams and global partners, do you wonder how you are coming across and whether you are truly communicating effectively?
As business continues to expand and teams increasingly work globally, many professionals have asked me about how to be effective. As we all know, it’s easy to become used to a style of presenting that may work regionally or nationally, but does not work with a global audience.
Many of my coaching clients start out with presentations that are approved by headquarters. But these presentations often contain expressions, metaphors and stories that are specific to one culture.
If you are struggling with global communication, use these five tips to boost your skills:
1. Time Zone
Seems like a funny first tip, right? Think about it. It’s very easy to schedule times for virtual conference calls that are convenient to you. This sets the tone that you or corporate headquarters is more important than the regional offices.
Be sensitive to time zones. Rotate times for team calls so everyone will be equally respected. Also, take the extra step to put local time zones into the call time. This prevents confusion and mistakes.
2. Advance Warning
A lot of people want to be prepared for a team meeting or presentation. This is especially so if English (or the dominant language) is not their native language.
In many teams, sending documents in advance is the key to unlock greater participation. Participants have an opportunity to preview the materials, research any unfamiliar phrases, and get up to speed. If you haven’t tried this, give it a shot.
3. Regional Expressions
When you are gathered around the water cooler or at a sports event, it is easy to talk in slang and use regional expressions. But on global conference calls, this just doesn’t fly.
Strangely enough, many of us are so used to our particular way of speaking that we don’t even “hear” these regional influences. If you want to make sure everyone will understand what you are saying, consider working with a presentation coach. You will get candid and direct feedback.
4. Visual Impact
Pictures, photos and hand-drawn icons are powerful ways to bridge barriers of culture, language and regional differences. Still, there may be images that send a message you do not intend.
If you are presenting to an audience you are not familiar with, test out the images you are using. Ask for direct feedback from a peer — before your formal presentation.
5. Anonymous Feedback
Provide a method for participants to give you candid, anonymous feedback. In many cultures, direct feedback is considered impolite or inappropriate. By encouraging people to speak freely in an anonymous method, you are much more likely to find out what is truly working — and what can be improved.
The fastest way to gain confidence is by experimenting and using these five tips. Start today. Your confident global communication skills will be increasingly more crucial.