By Jennifer Lawrence, Founder, Cambridge Corporate Training
Once your company’s global training program is launched and underway, it’s time to turn your attention to the instructor’s teaching approach, whether the training will be offered onsite or online through Webinars and virtual classrooms. Here are 10 important teaching tips you can use to ensure that each stage in the instructional process flows smoothly and succeeds in:
- Inviting all participants to feel welcomed.
- Introducing content that is novel.
- Including everyone in the discussion.
1. Welcome each person individuallyand ask their name (or say it from their name badge) when they enter the room or take a seat. Be sure to inquire if you’ve pronounced the name correctly, and then repeat the name as the person pronounces it. For a Webinar or virtual classroom, repeat each person’s name when logging on, and say, “Thank you for joining.” If the group size makes individual recognition unwieldy, devise a way to welcome sections or groups.
2. Set clear ground rules for classroom interaction. Do not assume that participants from many different countries will view expected and appropriate behavior the same way. It’s important to let people know at the start of your training session whether:
- Asking questions and sharing perspectives is encouraged.
- You expect answers to be clearly right or wrong.
- Slides and handouts will use text in more than one language.
- The atmosphere will be serious, humorous, or a combination.
- Electronic devices, whether to text and take calls or to record the session, are discouraged or permitted.
Check for understanding and agreement of these expectations before continuing.
3. State your learning goals and expectations—and say from which educational system they emerge. For example, American training sessions often emphasize brainstorming activities and reserve time in a classroom setting for creative idea generation among participants, rather than having all information originate with the instructor.
4. Pause often and check for understandingas you explain themes and details. Language that seems precise to the presenter may include regional slang and cultural nuances that are unfamiliar to participants from other countries. One way to accomplish this is to ask for volunteers in advance of each portion of the training who will be willing to summarize a key idea or point for the group. Be sure to select volunteers from different regions and those who are not necessarily native speakers of the presenter’s language.
5. Include stories and examples from business settings in different cultures around the world. This requires planning and preparation prior to the training session, and it is well worth the effort. Reach out to colleagues or potential participants from a variety of cultures and countries, and explain the key themes you hope to convey through the training. Ask for suggestions of situations or vignettes from their local business environment that you can include to emphasize the concepts.
6. Notice who is not speaking and invite them to share ideas, perspectives, and questions. If a participant is more comfortable speaking (or typing if online) in a different language and having a colleague translate, offer support for this approach: Sharing a new idea in a second language in front of business colleagues may be too challenging for a new participant to attempt in one session.
7. Create activities that pair people in small groups so they can participate in a lower-risk environment. Devise an exercise or game that incorporates small group discussion accompanied by reporting back to the larger group. Ask each group in advance to select a representative who will share the main discussion ideas, so nobody is caught by surprise.
8. Ask for examples of how key concepts can be applied in different countries and discuss contrasts and similarities. Offering a commentary in which various approaches have both pros and cons likely will work more effectively with global training participants than will a critical appraisal that “ranks” or categorizes different cultural norms as “winners” or “losers.” Of course, if a particular technique or behavior is unethical or illegal in other locales, be sure to point this out, along with the likely consequences.
9. Explain something you’ve learned from teaching the class and say thank you. Working with participants from many different cultures is enormously rewarding, and the opportunities for the instructor to learn along with the participants are great. Share your appreciation with the class for introducing you to new ways of thinking.
10. Distribute evaluation forms that can be filled out anonymously to prevent loss of face. For onsite training, it may be helpful for the instructor to focus on a wrap-up task, or to leave the room altogether for a few minutes, to allow participants comfortable space to offer candid assessments of the session. Doing so is both a courtesy to your participants, regardless of their cultural backgrounds, and an opportunity to ensure that trainers receive honest and helpful feedback.
By following these 10 tips, instructors will ensure that global training sessions are inviting, impactful, and inclusive—increasing the likelihood that participants will return to the workplace encouraged and prepared to implement important training lessons effectively.
In my next article, I’ll explore “Maximizing Training Effectiveness: A Systematic Approach for Post-Program Impact.”
Jennifer Lawrenceis the founder of Cambridge Corporate Training, which provides advanced management education to business professionals around the globe. Previously, she headed corporate relations for Harvard Business School’s executive education programs and was a professor at Boston University’s School of Management. Lawrence began her career as a marketing executive at Reebok International. She holds an MBA and an M.Ed from Harvard University and can be reached at: email@example.com.