From conference calls to emails – why great written AND verbal communication is critical to global business

When it comes to running a successful business, we all know that good communication is paramount. From day-to-day office relations, to hard-won contracts and critical business meetings. How we communicate – and importantly, how well we communicate – can be the difference between success and failure.

But these all-important communications don’t just come in the form of standard telephone conversations or email messages – to ensure your business succeeds on a global scale, you need to consider every form of contact you make with your potential customers and clients, whether that’s written or verbal.

How to talk the talk:

Getting your overseas verbal communication right isn’t just about learning as many languages as possible, and mastering key phrases – verbal communication can feel altogether more personal, and there is a raft of factors you should consider to avoid damaging mistakes and offence.

Never underestimate the importance of nuances and colloquialisms. From attempting to translate your own slang references, to struggling to understand your customers’ slang and idioms, now make up a significant part of modern language and it’s essential you consider them within your verbal communication. Professional translators and interpreters can help with this, not only by communicating with your overseas customers effectively, but also by bringing knowledge and understanding of specific cultures within different countries.

Consider accents within your team – strong accents can be difficult to understand, even to someone from the same country, but when communicating with someone whose first language is entirely different, it will be even harder. Not only can this lead to increased misunderstandings, but you may find that valuable time in business meetings is spent trying to understand and convey even the simplest of exchanges. In these cases, it nearly always pays to have an interpreter on hand to efficiently and accurately translate.

When it comes to face-to-face business meetings, and interviews with overseas clients, it’s not just what we say that counts, it’s how we say it. Body language, vocal tone, facial expressions…they’re all factors that can play a huge part in conveying what your company stands for, and how you conduct your business. In many different cultures across the world, body language is crucial – in fact it is often the most powerful form of communication, and takes precedence even over the words we are saying. A lack of knowledge of the cultures you are trying to do business with, and a poor understanding of what you are communicating with your body language, can lose you contracts, clients and customers.

The power of words:

Written communication is one of the most used means of communicating with people, so perhaps it’s no surprise that this is what many companies focus on when looking to expand their business abroad.

A great website is just the start, and it’s not just about how good it looks – how does your content read once it has been translated to a different language? While you may have nailed the perfect website content for your UK target market, you may need to re-think things for your international audience – do the same format, headings and sub-headings work? Do your references, humour and abbreviations need adjusting? Translating a body of content from one language to another isn’t always as simple as it seems, and investing in quality, accuracy and experience will likely pay off when it comes to your return.

If you use emails as your main form of communication within your business, beware – Google translate and other online translation systems are always tempting but can have major repercussions for your customer and client relations. Verbal mistakes and misunderstandings can be quickly rectified but written mistakes can be obvious, irreversible, and (perhaps most damagingly) re-visited. Once a translation mistake has been made in an email, you can’t correct it – and though you may believe the issue to be resolved, your recipient might be slower to forget.

Beyond a great website and effective email conversations, accurate and consistent translation of all your marketing materials is paramount. Don’t just focus on one, and ignore others – have you considered your contracts, portfolios, testimonials, advertorials, brochures…the list goes on! If your overseas customers and clients are going to invest in your brand, you need to ensure every piece of content you produce reinforces your professional image and helps build the right reputation for your company.

For assistance with your translation or interpretation requirements, get in touch with us here at Sally Walker Language Services, we’d be happy to help.