Become Fluent in Flawless with an Experienced Global Meetings Team.

In a global business environment, meeting planners must consider language barriers, cultural differences, and social standards when bringing together groups of people from different countries and backgrounds.

A little research in the planning stages of a cross-cultural meeting or event can mean the difference between executing flawlessly and failing to communicate key corporate objectives to a diverse international audience. Let’s start with the basics. Successful Meetings states that attracting and hosting international attendees means acknowledging the importance of speaking to a multilingual audience.

Make Sure You Have Them at “Hello.”

Even though English has essentially become the standard language for international business, cultural nuance still exists when it comes to greeting colleagues, co-workers, hosts, and other attendees. In most western cultures, it’s common to shake hands when first meeting a business contact, but whether to offer both hands or just one (and how close to stand to them when doing so) creates a gray area. In many Asian cultures, an introduction is accompanied by a bow.

Regarding language used for meeting materials and presentations, translations should be available for key components such as promotional materials, conference website, and registration pages. Don’t rely on Google to translate your key communications; it leaves too much margin for error, and the last thing you want is for your organization to appear unprofessional or disinterested in the culture of the hosting country or the international clientele in attendance. Professional translation services can be sourced through most CVBs (Convention & Visitor’s Bureaus) and can provide assistance with everything from simultaneous translations of keynote speeches to providing subtitles for key visual presentations.

Sweet Breads or Sweetbreads? Discuss.

If you think it’s hard getting a fifth grader to eat broccoli, try planning a menu for an international crowd. Live sea cucumbers might be considered a delicacy in many Asian countries, but for most Westerners… not so much. If it wiggles or bleeds, it probably doesn’t belong on the appetizer tray. Is your upcoming meeting in Malaysia? All food served at a conference in a largely Muslim country should be halal in accordance with dietary restrictions. India has a largely vegetarian population, and all meals are expected to be served hot, so let’s think beyond the cold ham on rye.

Most international business travelers relish the opportunity to explore and experience the culture, customs, and culinary scenes of the countries they visit. With that in mind, one good way to incorporate local flavor into your meeting itinerary is to design a menu that reflects the best offerings of the hosting city. But you’ll need to consider more than F&B to avoid the potential for cross-cultural faux-pas. For example, in Australia it’s inappropriate to discuss business at a meal until the main course has been served, so fire up the shrimp on the barbie before the CEO steps up to the dais. Most people outside the great down-under wouldn’t know this, but a seasoned team can share their knowledge and expertise to help you create a seamless global experience for your meeting attendees.

Can Technology Do Some of the Heavy Lifting? APPsolutely!

To plan and execute a flawless international conference, meeting, or event, myriad decisions must be made. It takes time, effort, and endless research to understand as much as possible about your destination, the languages and cultures of your attendees, and the differing customs that somehow must mesh seamlessly to guarantee a positive takeaway for all involved.

A strong Strategic Meeting Management (SMM) program can help do some of the heavy lifting, including having a centralized corporate calendar, ensuring consistency in branding throughout all your events, and improving the participant experience. Taking things a step further, a customized EventAPP™ can optimize the impact of your next international event, providing seamless communication at every stage to educate and engage your audience. Finally, consider giving yourself a CreativeEDGE® with an end-to-end meeting management tool that provides complete support for online registration, attendee management, reporting, and airline ticketing.

Experience is the best teacher when it comes to the meticulous and multifaceted planning of a flawless international meeting or event. If your organization conducts business around the world, it pays to team up with professionals who can talk the talk and walk the walk.

Ready to plan your next international meeting?