Meeting Misunderstandings and Missteps – it’s not just for international anymore

Over the past few weeks, we’ve covered four success tools for global meetings. There is one universal objective – have highly productive meetings with maximum engagement and complete understandability. And do this no matter what diversity of language or cultural background we are working with. I’ve received great comments on the series, both how valuable the tools are and how easy to put into practice.

However, many also commented that these tools are just as applicable inside the US as in multi-county meetings. Most in-USA meetings include people with diverse language, religious and national origin backgrounds. In reality, we would all do well to pay attention to the JISS principles for effective meetings regardless of nationality mix. Let’s look at each point from a single country meeting perspective.

Jettison the Jargon: In any multicultural meeting, using slang or colloquialisms can create misunderstanding or leave some participants wondering what the comment was about. Think about using sports analogies specific to US football with a diverse audience where many grew up knowing/playing football as the rest of the world sees it – called soccer in the US. Could create a problem in understanding. By the way, avoiding jargon or sayings is also extremely important when working across age groups. The context and points of reference (e.g. television or movie characters) are likely to be quite different

Inclusive Interactions: Making sure that everyone is involved and contributing in a meeting is always a challenge. As a leader, watching for who is/is not participating, directing questions to gain engagement, doing table assignment exercises or mini-workshops are all valid and valuable approaches. And it takes planning for this to work well.

Slow the Speed: This one is obviously important with any multicultural audience. Again the two key points from the JISS global meetings posts apply 1) as presenter, learn to slow your own speed and 2) talk with the group and ask that they moderate speed. This is also important because of regional differences in conversational speed and accents.

Split up the Seating: The strategies for global meetings are equally applicable in any single country gathering. The challenge is always to find ways to mix groups, generating new contacts and better engagement. There are lots of tools for this, but two basics are assigning seating or using an exercise to redistribute a group.

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 https://www.erlanger-inc.com 1-804-749-4100

2018-01-18T17:14:40+00:00

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