Communicating across cultures is the key to future success as the world gets smaller. The trouble is – people from different countries who speak English imagine that they all think the same. They do not. Americans speak English but think American. Australians speak English but think Australian.
Here is how to prepare for better communication with Americans (and many Aussies):
What’s the point— In America time is money and everyone is in a hurry. India’s “indirect” style of communication does not work well, it is too slow for them. You have to be good at PITCHING, using around 75 words which really grab their attention (or as Americans would say, “cut to the chase”).
Sports speak is the way to go— Americans and Aussies love sport (different ones). This shows up in their language and you should follow too – observe how they use “home run”, “slam dunk”. “stepping up to the plate” and many more – then use these yourself to make better connections.
Be much more informal— Americans and Aussies tend to be informal, and everyone can have a say regardless of status. This is generally not the case in India. Just because Americans and Aussies might dress casually or sound informal and relaxed, don’t think they are not deadly serious about doing business. It is not easy for most Indians but using first names soon after meeting is the norm (and not adding “Sir”).
You will be interrupted— Americans and Aussies love fast paced rapid fire conversations, with everyone jumping in to have a say – both are egalitarian cultures and even very junior people are encouraged to speak up. Interruptions are not seen as rude, rather they can see this as signs that things are going well. Silence on the other hand is never a good sign.
Present actively and immediately— Start with the finish – presentations that build slowly to a conclusion drive Americans mad. Americans and Aussies want to be engaged and entertained. Dry powerpoint presentations about your company will not make connection. An active presentation that shows how you can solve a problem, add value or team up will attract and keep attention.
Make your presentations even faster— you can quickly bore Americans and Aussies – especially in America business is done at great speed. People feel time poor, stretched and become impatient. So – cut your message to the absolute essence, and you will succeed.
Silence is a warning sign— America does everything loud, and the Aussies are following. There is sound everywhere, TV’s are on, radio, computers, music all happening at once. Americans feel uncomfortable in silences and long pauses.
We’ve helped many Indian organisations communicate better with the west – and in every case it has been turn the presentation around, start with the problem and how you can add value. Any presentation beginning with “Let me outline the history of our company” is a recipe for failure in the west.