internal communication quotes Posts

Tips to Communicate to a Global Audience

I was on a conference call with a client’s communications team a couple of weeks ago. We discussed a variety of assignments that needed to be done and began to discuss deadlines when one of the participants who happened to be in Salt Lake City said, “Excuse me, but am I the only one here who plans to celebrate Thanksgiving with their family?” A few embarrassed voices from Canada said “Oh my, we forgot. We celebrated our Thanksgiving two and a half months ago and we weren’t thinking.”

Add that one to the list of cultural considerations to look out for when communicating to with a global workforce. About four years ago, I posted 10 Tips to Communicate with a Global Workforce. Well, make that 11 tips. The rest of the list is below.

Happy Holidays everyone!

Cultural Differences to Watch Out for in Global Communications

  1. Colloquialisms, idioms and humor don’t translate well. Avoid them.
  2. Weights and measures are expressed in metric units in most of the world.
  3. Currencies vary in different parts of the world. If you’re writing about U.S. dollars, be sure to designate accordingly.
  4. The seasons are opposite between the north and south equators. Summer in Colorado is ski season in Tasmania.
  5. In many parts of the worlds, date formats are written with the day first followed by the month and year.
  6. Make sure your language translation service is familiar with the host country you are targeting. For instance, the Spanish spoken in Mexico is not the same as the Spanish spoken in Chile.
  7. Your translation service may be familiar with the language spoken in the country you are targeting but likely isn’t familiar with the terms used in your industry in that language. Have an employee in the host country you are targeting check all copy before posting.
  8. Text translated from English to another language likely will not take up the same amount of space. For instance, English text translated to Spanish is about a third longer.
  9. Contractions and possessives are confusing in some countries. Choose “cannot” instead of “can’t,” and rewrite sentences to say “the book that belongs to Joe” instead of “Joe’s book.”
  10. Language differences are just scratching the surface. Cultural differences are far more important.

There is much more to communicating to a global audience than just these tips, but following them, being respectful of cultures and seeking to understand your international audiences will get you headed in the right direction.

What tips would you add?

 

 

Sprinkle Similes into Your Business Writing

Paul Barton Communications business writing

By Barbara McNichol
Guest Blogger

Teaching a weekly fitness class—like writing weekly business messages— can get repetitious. A good instructor motivates action while guiding people in their exercises. My instructor likes to interject colorful similes to keep us going. And I suspect it’s also her way of staying sharp and engaged, too.

Here’s an example of her colorful use of language. Describing what not to do while on all fours, she said, “Think of an overburdened mule in a spaghetti Western movie and don’t slump your back like that.” Later, while on our tummies, she told us to lift our arms “like you’re jumping out of an airplane.” Great visual!

Her imagery boosts our enjoyment and helps make the point of the exercise stick. And what’s good for fitness is also good for your writing. Sprinkle similes and other figures of speech into your prose so readers can visualize your point more easily.

Examples from a fitness class:

“Drop your head to your shoulder like it’s a 10-pound bowling ball.”

“Flatten your back like you could put a tray of food on it.”

For over 50s who remember typewriters: “Shift your ribs to the side like the carriage on a typewriter.”

Example from a book:

This excerpt is from Martha Beck’s Finding Your Own North Star. I recommend Martha’s books for the sheer delight of seeing how she applies similes, metaphors, and other figures of speech to her points and stories.

If you’re planning to wait for them [your family] to locate your true path, draw you a careful map, pack you a lunch, and drive you to your North Star, you might want to take up needlework. I hear it passes the time.

Similes lead to smiles. Use them in your business writing whenever you can!

ABOUT OUT GUEST BLOGGER

Phoenix Public Speaking Barbara McNicholOn a crusade to boost the quality of business writing, Barbara McNichol conducts Writing Essentials WordShops and edits nonfiction books. Over the past 24 years, she has placed more than 350 books on her editor’s “trophy shelf.” She is the author of Word Trippers: Your Ultimate Source for Choosing the Right Word When It Really Matters.

On an ongoing basis, you’ll gain valuable writing tips by requesting her free monthly ezine Add Power to Your Pen and subscribing to her Word Trippers Tips program (details at www.WordTrippers.com).

Feel free to contact Barbara at 520-615-7910 or editor@BarbaraMcNichol.com and connect on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.