Last week’s Thursday Thoughts covered Jettison the Jargon, your first key to global meetings success. In that post, I talked about a Thai manager in a global meeting who didn’t understand the term picky eater. She came to me during a break with that phrase and one other written down to ask what they meant. In “Jettison the Jargon” we talked about how to handle understanding ‘picky eater’. I’ll share her second question later in this post.

The fact that she had to approach me on the side to ask for an explanation showed that I needed to apply the second success strategy, Inclusive Interactions, aka Involve Individuals. She had dropped out of the discussion as she tried to figure out vocabulary. To bring her back in, I could have asked ‘what do you think about Bill’s comment on …?’

Throwing a question to one individual works when working with a moderate sized group. Larger groups present a different challenge. Here are two inclusiveness strategies for larger groups:

  1. Seat people at rounds and assign smaller group challenges with debrief when completed. During assignments, circulate and listen in on discussions at each table. Observe what is happening, noting if anyone is disengaged. Bring them back in by asking for their comment on a specific item in the discussion.
  2. If you are using rounds or workshop groups for multiple assignments, identify a ‘natural’ leader within that group – someone who communicates clearly and seems to include others well. If you observe uneven involvement, talk with that natural leader during a break about keys to involving individuals and ask for their help to make sure that happens within their group.

Here’s a big exception to the strategy of calling on someone who is not participating in a group discussion. In a multi-country group, you’ll often have participants who can follow the conversation and keep up with ideas, but for them to formulate an idea and comment on the fly is beyond their language fluency. In many cases they are essentially translating as they go. Imagine this participant: An interesting idea arises in the discussion. Mentally translates to their home language. Formulates a related idea in their home language. Internally  translates to English. Speak up in the group. Wow!

At the beginning of this post I promised to tell you what the second phrase was that my Thai participant asked about. In our discussions, we had been talking about competitive environment and not being on a level playing field with other companies because of country of origin rules vs local practice. The phrase she wrote down to ask about was Level Plain Field.” Oops! That is indeed what it sounds like. I simply rewrote that as as ‘level playing field’ and she understood instantly – and we both had a good laugh.  However, I did also go back and clarify the meaning with the group to be sure that all understood. Don’t let participants get stuck on items like that. When they mentally rejoin the conversation, the topic and ideas will have moved on, making it difficult to reconnect.

So we now have the first two keys  in JISS – “Jettison the Jargon” and “Inclusive Interactions” for global meetings success. Next week, we’ll move on to the first “S” – a catalyst to  make meetings work!

BTW, I used two jargon/colloquial terms in this post. Can you find them? Send me an email at pointing these out and there will be a (publication) reward coming your way.

Dorothy Erlanger is a meeting facilitator, speaker and trainer who has worked with Fortune 100 companies in over 25 countries across the globe. She is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese. For facilitation of global strategic planning, executive workshops or emcee for multi-country conferences, contact Dorothy at 1-804-749-4100.