A No-Nonsense Approach to Meetings

How often do you meet online? How do you handle your international meetings?

In the wake of a 2014 report by an independent research firm, companies with an international client base rushed to have their websites and documentation localized into the languages of their target markets. After surveying nearly 2,500 consumers from non-Anglophone countries in Asia, Europe, and South America, Common Sense Advisory concluded that over half (54.2%) of the people will only buy from websites where information is presented in their native language. And the demand for localized content increases to over 60% once you reach into specific countries such as France.

Results are even more telling when one compares the purchasing habits of consumers from different countries. Take Japanese and Spanish shoppers, for instance. The former are four times as likely than the latter to buy from English-only websites. The report title encapsulates it neatly: Can’t Read, Won’t Buy.

That realization is now spreading beyond the written word, as more and more meetings are pushed to the cloud and as business expands further into China, Southeast Asia or Africa. And here a few questions impose themselves: Are people easily persuaded to buy or enter a deal if they are constantly spoken to in a language other than their own? Are companies leaving money on the table for insisting on meeting only in English, or German, or French?

Logic and Emotion

Science —and, again, plain common sense— seem to indicate so. In his book Descartes’ Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain neurologist Antonio Damasio sustains that people make logical decisions for emotional reasons. And nothing elicits emotion faster than language —particularly one’s own—, as famously noted by Nelson Mandela: “if you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his mind. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.”

With that in mind, why are most companies still struggling in English-meetings only, despite their international reach? Shouldn’t we be localizing our meetings as we have done with our websites for some time now?

Kudo tends to believe that English will get through anything. But anyone who has ever been to Thailand or Vietnam knows how difficult it is to navigate the large metropolitan areas in those countries —or get a cab anywhere— without speaking at least some rudimentary Thai or Vietnamese (or without Google Translate). Now imagine what it takes to close a deal involving hefty sums of money.

The good news is the technology now exists to allow people and businesses to meet in their own language, affordably and conveniently. With as little as a smartphone, tablet or computer you can now participate fully in meetings or make presentations in a language that you fully master and be interpreted live by human interpreters operating remotely. Localizing your meetings just became a whole lot easier.

Intrigued and want to know more? Go visit Kudo's blog.

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