Project Smart ~ Exploring trends and developments in project management today

Calendar icon
Adobe PDF icon

Leading Meetings with Multicultural Audiences

~ By Dana Brownlee

Collage of diverse multiethnic business people smiling

The Problem: With the increasing prevalence of virtual teams that span the globe, multicultural audiences are becoming more common. Meeting leaders must be poised to meet the unique needs of these groups. One of the key roles of any meeting facilitator is to create a safe environment where all participants feel valued and included. When the meeting includes participants representing a variety of different cultures and backgrounds, this can be somewhat challenging. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when leading a session with a multicultural audience.

Consider these suggestions…

  • Conduct research to learn a bit about the cultures represented in the group. Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands (by Morrison and Conaway) does a great job of explaining various cultural customs and relevant business etiquette.
  • Make an effort to respect cultures represented. For example, avoid gestures or phrases that might be offensive in their culture (e.g. the ok sign made with the hand is an offensive gesture in certain cultures).
  • Consider cultures when formulating questions. For example, for those cultures with a tendency toward always responding affirmatively to requests, ask "When can you complete this task?" instead of asking "Can you complete this task by Friday?"
  • Select a meeting time that respects all time zones. If in doubt, solicit feedback from the group.
  • Bring business cards to the meeting and be sure to accept business cards by holding them with both hands.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask a speaker with an accent to repeat themselves slowly to ensure their point is heard by all. If necessary, repeat their point to the larger group to ensure it was fully comprehended. However, if you summarise their point, check back with them to ensure your summary is indeed accurate.
  • Ensure that selected meeting dates don't infringe on religious or other regional holidays.
  • Be respectful of cultural preferences when making food selections – offer a variety of selections including vegetarian options and avoid red meat if possible.
  • Try to touch base with non native language speakers prior to the meeting to personally introduce yourself and solicit their feedback on any adjustments that might make their participation easier.
  • Select a language that is native to most participants, and consider using an interpreter if necessary.
  • Avoid idiomatic expressions, jokes, or references that might not be understood by all.
  • Plan additional time into the agenda to allow speakers the opportunity to speak slowly and clarify if needed.
  • Plan time into the agenda to socialise informally before the meeting officially starts.

Dana Brownlee is President of Professionalism Matters, Inc. a boutique professional development corporate training firm. Her latest publications are "Are You Running a Meeting or Drowning in Chaos?" and "5 Secrets to Virtually Cut Your Meeting Time in Half!" She can be reached at danapbrownlee@professionalismmatters.com


Comments

Be the first to comment on this article.

Add a comment



(never displayed)



 
2000
What is the sum of 1 + 2 + 3?
Notify me of new comments via email.
Remember my form inputs on this computer.

The Meat of a Business Case

Abstract word cloud for Business case with related tags and terms

Writing a business case is a crucial component in the business process. This article covers the important components in a business case.

The Art of Project Scheduling

Project plan and schedule

The art of project scheduling is based on experience and the more experience you have, the more accurate your schedule will be.

Resourcing Project Managers

Project manager jobs advert in a newspaper

Ironically, although resourcing production team members is a significant part of a Project Manager's role, very little focus is placed on resourcing the Project Managers themselves.

But What is Best for the Customer?

Four business people's hands holding puzzle pieces

Ideally our project management methodology in a box process works perfectly for everyone. But clients come in all types and sizes and one size doesn't fit all.

PROJECT SMART is the project management resource that helps managers at all levels improve their performance. We provide an important knowledge base for those involved in managing projects of all kinds. With weekly exclusive updates, we keep you in touch with the latest project management thinking.

WE ARE CONNECTED ~ Follow us on social media to get regular updates and opinion on what's happening in the world of project management.


Latest Comments

Yudi commented on…
MoSCoW Method
- Sat 1 August 10:15am

Takunda Knox commented on…
Project Management Tools
- Tue 28 July 4:09pm

Philip VonSteinmann commented on…
How to Make Changes on a Project
- Tue 28 July 1:11am

Latest tweets

General Project Management • PG Cert/PG Dip Project Management https://t.co/eFDN5b5Ybp about 4 days ago

General Project Management • Re: Project Resource Capacity Planning https://t.co/JkJMQ1nxWd about 11 days ago

RT @StephenRCovey: "You don't manage people; you manage things. You lead people." - Admiral Grace Hopper #management #leadership #Leadershi… about 23 days ago