- Slow down.
But don't sound like a robot!
- Use basic vocabulary and keep it simple.
Stay away from idioms and slang that are not understood outside of your region or country. Avoid too many corporate jargon or acronyms. Also, take note that some seemingly international idioms or phrases may have different meanings in different countries.
- Listen actively.
Don't only listen with your ears! Use your eyes to listen to your conversational partners or audience, not just your ears. How are they reacting to you? Do you think they are understanding you? Adjust if you are speaking too fast or too slow, or using obscure phrases or complex vocabulary.
- Repeat, rephrase or illustrate using examples.
Repeating word for word may offend those who can understand your accent. Maybe they do not use English in the same way, they may require a rephrasing of what you said to understand you better.
- Be careful with telling jokes.
Jokes do not always translate well between cultures or even subcultures in the same country. Jokes may not be understood the same way outside of your corporate culture or professional network. Keep this in mind when trying to lighten the mood.
- Expect a delayed reaction.
Sometimes due to different uses of English or a lack of understanding your version of English, your listeners may take a bit of time to process and respond. Be patient. They may be translating in their mind or trying to compare your words to how they say the same thing in English.
- Use visual aids.
Whenever it's possible, use visual or tactile aids to explain points. This may take pressure off listeners to listen, but instead interact with the content.
- Whenever possible, use local examples.
Bands and celebrities do this very well. When they greet their audience, they say "Hi + city name of the city they are in." Do not use irrelevant stories to the national, corporate or local culture. This may take some research. presenting irrelevant stories or examples will disconnect your audience. They will no longer relate to you, and may lose interest in listening to you. This is especially true if you are speaking to English as Second Language speakers who may be trying to understand your accent and at the same time trying to comprehend an irrelevant story.
Many of the tips in this article are based on advice given in the book Transactional Leadership by Carmen Vazquez (Author), George F Simons (Author), Philip R Harris (Author). Check it out on Amazon.
Jennifer Kumar, author of this post has coached and trained over 2,000 international business professionals to work with more efficiency across global boundaries. Contact us for more details on how we can help you!
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