Considerations When Working with a Global Audience

February 15, 2017 10:00 by Dana Peters

Virtual instructor-led training (vILT) presents unique opportunities and challenges for companies with operations throughout the world. On one hand, a vILT program can bring together learners from all over the world, efficiently and cost effectively.  On the other hand, there are a few more considerations to keep in mind when facilitating and designing learning content for a global audience.

From our experience working on global vILT projects, we wanted to share a few key points we think might be helpful for you to consider.

Instructional Design

What you show and share during your virtual session needs to be applicable to a global audience. This means any image, particularly images representing metaphors, must be broadly understood. Using an image of a bird with a worm in its mouth with a sunrise in the background to represent moving swiftly on a new market opportunity, may not create the mental connection you are looking for with anyone who doesn’t know or understand the expression, “The early bird gets the worm!”

Pay close attention to examples, case studies, or stories you’re including within your learning to make sure they are globally applicable as well as inclusive of multiple cultures.

Use pre-work as an opportunity for participants to prepare responses for questions the facilitator will pose in class or contributions the participants may need to make to exercises. This will build confidence for non-native speakers to be more comfortable speaking out and participating in class.

Facilitation Techniques

Facilitating to a global audience can be even more challenging. Many times you will be presenting to learners who don’t natively speak your language. Let’s use English as an example. Many learners around the world know and understand English, but many don’t consider themselves fluent. It’s important to speak clearly, enunciate your speech, and slowdown in pace. The number one piece of constructive feedback our clients receive from learners is that the facilitator speaks too fast.

Consider what specific questions and directions you will pose in class verbally. We suggest having those questions written out on the slides, posed as poll questions, or posted in the chat. Often times, second language learners will be more comfortable reading the questions or writing their responses than speaking. This will encourage active participation from all learners. Consider also posting key learning objectives in the chat or in written form as well.

Keep in mind; this may take up some extra class time. Work with your course designers so they understand whom your core audience is and the need to build in extra time for communication.

While speaking, it may be tempting to refer to current events, pop culture, or to speak in slang or jargon. Be wary, these references may not connect with learners not native to your country.

Additionally, we suggest practicing pronunciation of foreign names. While most learners will not be upset if a virtual facilitator mispronounces their name, they will notice your effort to try and get it right. This will help with connecting with the learner on a personal level and encourages engagement and active participation as well.

Scheduling

Scheduling is another item to consider when working with a global audience.

Pay close attention to the differences in time and eliminate time-sensitive phrases like “Good Morning” from your delivery. During breaks or when timing portions of your learning program don’t use the exact time it is for you. Instead practice using phrases like “ten past the hour” or “half past the hour” to make your time reference applicable to all learners, regardless of time zone.

It’s important also to consider global holidays and traditional work hours across the world when scheduling your virtual learning session. For example, most companies would avoid scheduling a virtual learning session on Thanksgiving Day here in the United States, but Thanksgiving isn’t celebrated globally. Independence Day is different for every country, and religious holidays take priority over work in some countries too.

While it will be impossible to accommodate every country around the globe, be aware of where your learners are located. Take care to consider major public holidays and work hours.

There are many considerations to working with a global audience. What other strategies do you have?

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Events | Learning | Training | Virtual Learning

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