When you’re doing business globally, or even have an international workforce, you need to be aware that English might be the secondary language of many of your clients or employees. That means you’ll have to make sure that everyone understands when you have a meeting. These days, many of our meetings are on Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or another video conferencing platform. While doing business or working in your second language is challenging, a video call can make it even more difficult to understand. Here’s how to help ensure communication is clear for your global peeps.
3 Tips to Improve Communication during your International/Multilingual Video Call
1 ) Turn Video on for Maximum Communication
The easiest way to decrease understanding when someone is working in their second language is to hide your face. Facial expressions are critical when trying to understand English as a second language. Mehrabian’s communication rule of 7-38-55 states that 7% of communication is verbal, 38% is tone of voice and a whopping 55% is body language (meaning facial expressions too!). The meeting you’re having is important, so why would you decrease the amount of information your colleague or client takes in by turning your video off?
2 ) Send a Summary in Advance
When working in your second language, video meetings can be stressful. Native speakers use more idioms and phrasal verbs, and they typically speak more quickly. To help your colleagues and clients whose native language is not English, prepare a summary of talking points in advance and send it to them. Then, after the meeting, put together a summary of who will do what and by what deadline. Or, summarize what everyone’s opinion or feedback was. This will ensure everyone knows what they are responsible for, and also, who is in charge of what.
3 ) Simplify and Communicate Key Points During Meeting
To help non native speakers follow the conversation, someone should be chosen in advance to paraphrase what is being said in the chat. That way, when someone says, “Let’s pull out the big guns for this client,” the note taker can write ‘We’re going to use our best resources for this client.” Summarizing big ideas, or simplifying idioms, will be helpful to your global attendees. But wait! Before you close out the meeting, save the chat so that you can send it to them afterwards. That way, they can reread what was said to make sure they understood. Many times non native speakers will not give feedback in meetings due to not feeling confident they understood others.
Let’s face it. More and more of our meetings will be video calls, but that doesn’t mean we have to alienate those whose second language is English. Engage and include everyone on the call by employing the above three tips. You will get feedback and opinions from all attendees when you make sure that everyone understands.
Micah Bellieu is CEO of Fluency Corp, a global language training service that ensures employees at global corporations are confident using their second language at work. Micah speaks Spanish, French and Japanese as her non-native languages. Fluency Corp works with employees from Samsung, American Airlines, and more.