Last week, nearly 200,000 people attended CES in Las Vegas, the world’s largest gathering of makers and buyers of electronic devices, appliances, computers, televisions, cars and futuristic technologies like robots and wearable devices. Many of the exhibitors and attendees came from outside of the United States—at one point or another, all of them relied on English as a common language to conduct important conversations on technical and business topics. How many of those conversations led to positive impressions and new business relationships, and how many sent the wrong message?
Being able to communicate clearly in English to prospects, press, analysts and influencers is critical to making the most of trade show opportunities. Miscommunication not only imparts incorrect information, but it can also make your company appear unprofessional or hard to do business with. In a tradeshow environment, businesses have many chances to make an impression, good or bad: in booth signage, on printed materials, in videos, the website, in formal press conferences and panels, and after hours at social events.
But one of the most important points of interaction is at the booth, where conversations often prove spontaneous and informal. How should organizations prepare their talent to maximize your chances of success in these interactions? The first answer: make sure everyone representing your company at an international trade show is able to confidently answer these questions in proper Business English.
Five Questions Every Tradeshow Worker Should Be Able to Answer Using Business English
- Who is your company and what do you do? You should have a succinct summary of your business identity committed to memory, along with a short description of your value proposition. For example, “We are Shenzhen China’s largest supplier of mobile phone cables and docking stations, with custom designs available for most devices in the market.”
- Where are you from? Keep in mind that the person asking the question will usually be able to figure out your country of origin, so use this as an opportunity to say something about your company’s location that adds to the perception of value. “We are from Can Tho, home of Vietnam’s most prestigious engineering college, where our founders graduated,” or “We are located in Santos, the largest port city in Brazil, and have excellent relationships with the shipping industry.”
- Tell me about your products. Again, brevity and clarity are critical here, but so is technical precision. “We make keyless entry systems for cars that can be fitted onto existing models,” or “we make robots to assist in physical therapy and rehabilitation.” If you have a product to demonstrate, make sure your demo follows a clear process and you can communicate what you are demonstrating, both in terms of product features and customer benefits.
- What makes your products or company different? People will ask this question in a variety of ways, but they are always interested in the same information. What is your competitive advantage? Why should I do business with you or care about what you do? This is probably the most important conversation you can have at a qualifying level, and you should understand how to communicate your message effectively, using evidence if you can. For example, “Our patented process has improved overall product reliability by 90%, meaning fewer returns and service calls,” or “We have a unique relationship with the factory that allows us to process changes or customization with 24 hours’ notice at no additional cost,” or, “we are the only company in our category to offer free round-the-clock customer support.” Every customer-facing person in your trade show team should be comfortable providing this information in enough depth to respond to a couple of follow-ups, including requests for proof, customer examples, and ability to point out unique customer benefits in the product demonstration.
- Sounds great, what are the next steps? Congratulations! If you hear this question, it means you’ve done everything right. You should have a defined process to handle qualified leads, whether it is setting up a second meeting for more in depth sales conversations, directing prospects to a web site or taking an order right on the show floor.
In many cases, the ability to drive this conversation to a successful conclusion will come in part with a good understanding of Business English. Solid Business English can also help in another crucial area: presenting consistent messages, in the right tone, to all interested parties in a tradeshow environment, because you never know the influence that any individual can have on your business prospects.
GlobalEnglish programs help organizations better prepare their customer-facing workforce. Our unique style of blended learning empowers your talent to better manage other important global businesses challenges, including learning new skills, adapting to new technology and business models, and leveraging technology for productivity and analytics. Our customers find time and again that as their employees gain a better foothold on Business English, they improve on overall performance.
We encourage organizations seeking to improve the capability and capacity of their leadership pipeline to talk with their local GlobalEnglish representatives to see how we can help them achieve their goals, including being ready to leverage the experiences and interactions at the next global or local trade show.
Please take a moment to fill out our request for information form and we will route the information to the right person so we can answer all of your questions about how GlobalEnglish can be your partner in Business English learning.
The 2016 PWC CEO Survey reveals that CEOs are concerned with the skills of people in their talent pipeline. 49% of CEOs identified their leadership pipeline as a strategic focus.
“They’ll need to be able to operate in a world with multiple stakeholders, different values and diverse attitudes toward law and rights, all in an increasingly volatile economic context. In addition, they will have to be comfortable with data, analytics and many new technologies.”
In many cases, the understanding and interpretation of laws, the ability to navigate the volatile economic context, will come in part with a good understanding of Business English. Business English will help future leaders access mindful insights about key stakeholders and understand the drivers of economic change.
Solid Business English can also help in another crucial area identified by PWC: presenting consistent messages, in the right tone, to a global employee base. This can not only help leaders align their talent around strategic initiatives, if can also help them execute on those initiatives more successfully.
GlobalEnglish programs can help organizations better prepare their leadership pipeline. Our unique style of blended learning approaches also helps with other areas identified in the PWC survey, including skills and adaptability, and leveraging technology for productivity and analytics. Our customers find time and again that as their employees gain a better foothold on Business English, they improve on overall performance.
We encourage organizations seeking to improve the capability and capacity of their leadership pipeline to talk with their local GlobalEnglish team to see how we can help them achieve their goals.
In an increasingly global marketplace, businesses with an international presence face communication challenges each and every day. These concerns run the gamut from individual communication between employees based in different countries to language barriers in collaborative efforts and clarity in the sharing of important, worldwide operational information. Competitiveness on the global scale is put at serious risk when there are barriers to effective communication and organizations lack a common business language, such as English, or fail to improve English proficiency.
Pearson English is here with new and improved Business Solutions to help companies not only build the necessary English skills in a just-in-time framework, but also allow them to monitor progress and success.
Developing key business skills with Skillshops
A strong grasp of English in the workplace makes it possible for staff members to develop the skill set that’s imperative for successful continued operations. Enhancing these communication techniques means better performance and a higher level of effectiveness at work.
The best solutions are delivered in the context of work and businesses need skilled workers to meet their operational goals. Business skills require not only language education, but context that suggests how and when to apply a process and how those outcomes are best communicated.
We are proud to introduce Skillshops by Pearson English: a new way to develop those key business skills and improve professional communication to the benefit of both the business and the employee.
Skillshops by Pearson English are designed around communication and management competencies tailored to the needs of busy professionals and delivered by experienced business trainers. Skillshops are intensive virtual workshops focused on the acquisition of the business skills and communication techniques required for continued global success for a business and enhanced effectiveness for individual staff members.
- Flexibility: The virtual classroom leverages the power of communications infrastructure and technology that enables flexibility and encourages group collaboration. Time commitments are reduced and travel costs are saved.
- Fast, measurable results: Skillshops provide the fast track for skill development, along with data and reporting through self assessments and needs analysis, goal setting, in-session feedback and session reports.
- “Learning by Doing”: Skillshops offer a strong focus on practical skills, adhering to the “learning by doing” philosophy. The classroom methodology is flipped, with an active learning approach in place that employees communicative and participative activities.
Learn more about Skillshops.
Empowering learners with One
One – the digital platform that enables talent to communicate, collaborate and operate in the world’s common language, English – is continuing to evolve. One empowers learners with the tools they need to successfully and professionally express themselves, and to develop their business skills in the context of work – quickly. Employees see the benefit in the work they do each and every day.
Focusing on outcomes that enable a common business culture, One by Pearson English keeps talent motivated by defining goals to achieve – and provides a reason to achieve them.
What’s new in One:
- Relevance: Business-specific content is customized to each learner’s role and ability level. This includes exclusive, exceptionally relevant content from our partners at The Financial Times.
- Collaboration: One offers a secure venue in which learners can work together on business projects.
- Productivity: Learners are provided increased access to language experts for quick, productive feedback, as well as everyday business tools and templates for faster, more effective work.
- Flexibility: One is accessible online and on demand, with content translated into 15 languages.
- Interactivity: Employees progress is placed in the fast lane with immediate feedback on communication skills.
Learn more about One.
Demonstrating success with One Dashboard
We know how important it is for companies to see a return on investment, which is why we created One Dashboard – the robust reporting tool for One that puts you in charge of your company’s success.
With live data that indicates the progress to each user and their administrator, One is instantly trackable, accountable and tuneable. You can decide who will get access to specific data. From seeing how employees are getting on with individual tasks to setting goals for whole teams and departments, One Dashboard allows businesses to quickly and easily monitor their progress and maximize their results.
One Dashboard delivers:
- Accountability: Effective measurement of all learners’ progress on the One platform is not only possible, but easy.
- Control: Administrators can identify and encourage learners based on their activity and performance.
- Ease: Helpful tools mean easy management of learner performance. These provide the information needed to make decisions about productivity and development.
Learn more about One Dashboard.
Navigating the global economy and maintaining and improving competitiveness is an absolute must for modern multinational enterprises. With the suite of powerful new releases from Pearson English, businesses have the tools they need to not only keep pace, but to create the best possible outcomes. English as a common business language is the foundation for success.
Working in teams and collaborating are two of the most important and beneficial skills of a modern professional, no matter where he or she is located in the world. Employees who can work together and create positive results are incredibly valuable to a business.While the need to collaborate locally will always exist, there’s a growing demand for businesspeople to work together remotely, whether with fellow staff on the other end of a continent or halfway across the globe. The continually progressing globalization of the world’s economy means that a greater emphasis is being placed on international teamwork than ever before. Businesses that can facilitate collaboration between their employees will have a better chance of solving problems and finding new business efficiencies. Of course, this is only true if the differences between different cultures and languages can be removed.
The Harvard Business Review highlighted the need for businesses to focus on and develop their internal collaboration abilities, as this skill is quickly becoming a source of competitive advantage for companies in the global business realm. The publication pointed out that the most successful companies are ones that have their partner organizations and satellite offices across the world share ideas and work together on projects. The Business Review also cautioned against applying traditional models of production outsourcing or other familiar processes when encouraging collaboration. Organizational leaders need to be involved in these efforts and make sure employees can be as connected as possible when creating new and potentially powerful innovations for the good of the business.
Moving Past the Obstacles
Of course, common systems need to be in place for collaboration. The rise of cloud computing, live Web-based chats and effective video conferencing have cut down on the delays that previously made international collaboration less than efficient in a time sense. The need for a common language of communication endures, however. Creating a common language for business interactions, both inside and outside of an organization, is becoming a higher priority as the global economy expands and nations experiencing an economic rise see internal and external expansion.
Companies that understand the importance of a commitment to business English education will also realize more consistent, high-quality results when it comes to their collaborative efforts. Employees can share ideas and information easily and without translation errors will be more efficient and better able to reach positive conclusions. With a strong business English learning plan in place – and an emphasis on hiring candidates with good existing English skills – companies can leverage their international employee base to put the best staff on the right jobs, regardless of location.
Mass Collaboration: The Next Step
The rise of various “mass” modes of industry and commerce, from production to distribution and marketing, demonstrate the power of a widespread approach to the overarching processes of business. Because collaboration is an internal activity instead of an external one, businesses need to have a common language in place to facilitate it. English is already the recognized and undisputed language of business. Beyond its common use in commerce, English is also a popular vehicle for communication in many parts of the globe, meaning that employees are more likely to have some experience, although it may be basic, with the language. Using business English in collaboration efforts is one powerful way to maximize the human capital of a company and create competitive advantages.
Blending Skills and Experiences for the Maximum Benefit
One of the most valuable resources that an international company has in terms of human resources is the breadth and depth of their employees’ experiences. Cultural and educational differences shouldn’t be viewed as a detriment to productivity, but a way to reach new, useful and powerful conclusions that couldn’t otherwise occur. The ideas held by an employee in Eastern Europe my be seen as outside the box by a staff member on the West Coast of the U.S., and the converse may be true. When workers with different perspectives have effective partnerships, they create concepts and solutions that are strong, diverse and exciting.
When organizations emphasize business English education, they make the potential for these fruitful collaborations a reality. Staff members who share a common language can exchange their ideas, unfiltered by translation and middlemen, to work toward their goals. The consistent use of business English across a multinational organization doesn’t only facilitate the simple day-to-day communication needed to keep a company running efficiently. It also makes these powerful chances for international collaboration possible. Having business English in place is also a benefit for companies collaborating with international partners.
With the overwhelming majority of large companies and growing startups choosing English as the standard for international communication, it’s not just an advantage to use the language; It’s a serious operational problem to be without a staff who can speak it.
Attracting the best employees is a high priority for businesses of all sizes and across industries. For competitive companies that have offices across the world, bringing in top talent isn’t just a desire; it’s a requirement for continued success and growth. Organizations that move beyond their country of origin need to target intelligent, productive professionals who can think, act and communicate on a global level, no matter where they originally come from.
Collaboration in general is a great tool for businesses, especially those that span large geographic distances. The sharing of skills, experiences and ideas on both the local and worldwide levels is a major component of success in the modern economy. Companies that move away from a strictly vertical hierarchy and empower employees to make decisions in a collective, interdependent system often see better results and are more prepared to face the demands of the modern business world. The Harvard Business School pointed to collaborative innovation as one of the most important current sources of competitive advantage. The monolithic research and development department is turning into an outdated concept as more companies encourage employees working locally and remotely to innovate and craft new concepts, products and solutions.
A Standard for International Operations
The development of the global economy provides businesses more opportunities, but it also presents new, unique challenges. In-depth global collaboration wasn’t a viable option in decades past, and information that needed to be exchanged across countries was often handled by translators. This approach is no longer quick or responsive enough for modern-day business needs, and it’s one of the reasons why business English has developed as the default method of internal and external communication for companies across the globe. This is true even when there are no native speakers involved, as English provides a consistent method for sharing ideas, developing concepts, negotiating and accomplishing other tasks that simply isn’t possible when using intermediaries. It’s now common for international organizations to test recruits on English proficiency.
A perfunctory English competency test doesn’t gather the information needed to implement a consistent language policy, however. An in-depth assessment provides a wide assortment of benefits, from the ability to compare positional benchmarks to prospective candidates to crafting an internal Business English education strategy and track ongoing development. This skills test doesn’t just make sure employees have the right level of English capability to succeed; it helps craft organization-wide strategies for development that can push a company past its competitors. Facing the reality of a constantly increasing need for international collaboration means a strong commitment to English as an important business tool.
A complete assessment of English language skills and a commitment to ongoing education also allows companies to attract and hire recruits who are outstanding in many respects but don’t yet have great Business English skills. Although there are baselines below which it simply isn’t practical to hire a candidate, a company that can provide training in using the language of international business certainly has an advantage over its competitors. Offering continuing educational opportunities also helps attract candidates who already have a good base of English language skills and want to develop them further.
An international business needs employees who have a strong grasp of corporate English To communicate internally and with outside vendors, partners and even competitors. A company that can develop benchmarks, best practices and plans for continuing development in relation to Business English use will be able to fully leverage the power of international collaboration, employee recruiting and retention and development and worldwide growth.
Keeping track of etiquette across different countries and cultures can be difficult for international business travelers. This is an instance where the knowledge of Business English and the resources that understanding the language opens up are incredibly valuable. Many websites, guides and other materials are written in English, so being able to access these important informational streams is much easier when that language is understood.
A strong knowledge of corporate English allows for direct, efficient communication between staff members from different companies, even when they don’t share a native tongue or were raised in different countries. Instead of having to rely on interpreters or translators to communicate sensitive information about both business and other matters outside of the board room, employees who speak Business English are empowered to engage in direct conversations and reduce the noise and misunderstandings that occur during translation. In this way, learning English for professionals also opens the door to more business opportunities across the globe and, therefore, more chances for travel to interesting international locations. Business English is the key to chances for growth at home and abroad.
Although corporate English will help staff members avoid conflicts and resolve any issues that do arise, there still needs to be some sensitivity and tact used. With that in mind, here’s some advice for making international business trips successful:
Do Your Research
There are too many cultural differences to review them all in a comprehensive fashion, but there are some measures to be taken that can help make trips as smooth and pain free as possible: research local customs. If your company already has a branch in that country, then contact a human resources professional or someone of similar standing for some useful advice about issues including mealtimes, handshakes, the exchange of business cards and many other topics. Colleagues who have previously traveled to the country to be visited can also be a valuable source of information.
Whether or not you can get this information from an inside source, researching the culture and customs of a nation is important, according to CNN. For example, knowing that it’s impolite for men and women to make contact—even a professional handshake—in India can mean the difference between a costly mistake and a good first impression. Along with a strong knowledge of Business English, learning how to say a greeting or salutation in the local language can be an effort that employees at the company being visited will will likely appreciate.
Understand how Meals are Held
One of the biggest country-to-country differences is eating and etiquette related to sharing food. This is one area where doing research can definitely pay off. With the advent of smartphones, it’s possible to create a short list of major points to remember, and even review on the way over to the first big dinner meeting in a new country. Following the lead of others and discretely asking questions, instead of just assuming, can also help.
Some missteps will only have you looking a little foolish, while others will create a more serious negative impression on your hosts. Here are a few of the most notable ones, compiled in a separate article from CNN:
- In Japan: Never rest chopsticks in the food being eaten, as this can remind native Japanese of a common funeral custom. Instead, place them close to the body, parallel to the plate.
- In India, the Middle East and parts of Africa: Do not use the left hand to handle food or, for the most part, utensils. The left hand is considered unclean in these areas and shouldn’t be used to handle important documents either. CNN pointed out that those who are naturally left handed should refrain from using their right hands instead.
- In China: Don’t turn over a fish after one side has been eaten. This is viewed as poor manners and bad luck, and can cause someone, especially a person involved in business negotiations, to lose face.
Know When to Talk Business
It can be difficult to know when a good time to discuss business is, outside the confines of a board room. Although this changes from country to county, a good general guideline is that many cultures frown upon business discussions during off hours – some during meals or travel, others at anytime outside of a structured meeting. Breaking this rule especially because it’s directly related to negotiations and making a deal, can severely impact any sort of business effort attempted by an organization. This is another area are where doing some research ahead of time will pay off. Another strategy to take is to ask someone with experience, a host or even hotel concierge about the standard in that particular country. The goal should always be to ask first, reducing the number of mistakes made and the possible damage done.
Everybody gets nervous. It’s a part of life that people simply have to battle through. However, for some, the struggle is a bit more intense. According to the Harvard Business Review, approximately 20% of the world’s population suffers from debilitating anxiety in potentially stressful situations.
Author Scott Stossel, a Harvard graduate and renowned journalist, uses a sports analogy as an example of his own anxiety. He describes how when he was younger, he purposefully lost an important tennis match because his anxiety had taken hold of him and all he wanted to do was finish the game as quickly as possible.
The idea is essentially the same in international business, but the game is changed. Employees don’t often find themselves stressing over three-point shots and scoreboards. Instead, they’re worried about securing investments and chasing acquisitions. According to the Anxiety Disorders Association of America’s “Stress & Anxiety Disorders Survey,” 56% of employees say that stress and anxiety influence their performance
Redirect Anxiety Positively
Many aspects of the job are prone to cause anxiety, but there are areas where businesses can help their staff, namely: Business English. In an increasingly multicultural business environment, employee pools have become a collection of cultures and languages. Giving employees a singular means of communication to interact with not only internal colleagues, but with external organizations, as well, will help establish confidence and overcome anxiety that may otherwise hinder their abilities.
A certain amount of anxiety can be beneficial, explained David Barlow, founder of the Center of Anxiety and Related Disorders as Boston University. This sentiment tends to push us to improve our efforts and work harder. Anxious feelings that cause people to monitor their actions and adapt to new situations more successfully keep us from becoming too comfortable in our present situation. For international businesses, staying complacent can be poisonous to long-term growth. When a company believes there’s no reason to push for a stronger product offering or improve its service standards, the enterprise takes the first few steps toward failure.
Battle Anxiety with Confident Communication
At the same time, it’s difficult to be confident in your abilities if you can’t communicate with your colleagues. Research published by the American Psychological Association found that employees who were excluded because of their language abilities resulted in worse overall business performance. Why? Because your employees don’t feel committed to a common goal and are more prone to focus on their work out of concern over job security. This doesn’t foster collaboration among workers or business partners.
In the global marketplace, mastery of Business English separates those satisfied with mediocre communications and international relationships from firms aiming to achieve the highest standards while interacting with customers and clients.
Think about it. If your employees aren’t prepared to work with international business partners in a common language, they will likely let anxiety take control and limit their capabilities to speak clearly and effectively with colleagues and business partners. Having the ability to communicate across cultures and languages with Business English prevents companies from becoming victims of anxiety.