The rise of the internet and its increasing availability has changed the rules for the learning and development world. Virtual training workshops enables learners from all over the world to come together in a single space at the same time. It facilitates easy sharing from the rich pool of learners life experiences; from different departments of the same organisation to different parts of the world. It also provides phenomenal networking opportunities. Following a virtual training workshop, we often see learners arranging to meet virtually after the workshop in order to talk further.
To inspire learners to embrace this opportunity, trainers need to design and deliver their workshops in a way that encourages this interaction and make them feel welcome, no matter where they are in the world.
Before you continue, did you know we have a whole suite of virtual workshops, covering a host of different topics, including several key soft skills for facilitating virtual workshops. You can see the selection on our virtual workshops page of our website.
6 tips to create a workshop that caters to a multicultural workforce
First and foremost, highlight and embrace the diverse locations that people are logging in from so everyone can see and join in on the workshop. As learners dial in, say hello, find out who they are, where they are and then engage in some small talk to make them feel comfortable and involved. As others dial in, you can introduce them to each other, making references to the information that you have been given.
It is important to keep it conversational, ask questions and introduce learners to each other, just as you would in a face to face (F2F) workshop.
2. Time zones
Consider your times zones and therefore the language you use. Ideally, you will know who your learners are and where they are likely to be dialling in from in advance. This way, you can say “Good morning/afternoon/evening” as appropriate when they dial in.
It may sound like a small thing, but it makes a big difference. Some of your learners may be logging in very early or very late, due to the difference in time zones. Adjusting your greeting will make them feel more welcomed and at ease in the workshop. Additionally, it is important to include international dial in numbers and relevant time zones on your invite.
3. Be inclusive
Sometimes, you will find most of your learners are logging in from the same time zone or similar location, and only a few are logging in from further afield. Because of this, it is easy to fall into the trap of referring to specific local issues, like the weather, which is known to the majority. But how does that make the others feel?
For example, you may have 8 learners dialling into the workshop from 4 locations in the US. Conversation flows around how terrible the weather has been and how frustrating the politics are. Meanwhile, our colleagues from Bangalore, Beijing and Dubai are left to sit and listen. Be inclusive with your conversation and make sure each learner is involved.
A picture can tell the story of a thousand words. Do you have images of people in your slide deck? Is there a fair representation of your audience in them? Even the smallest micro-messaging can create inclusivity. Diversity is a good thing, so make sure that it is represented in all aspects of your workshop, visuals included.
5. Universal reference
Be conscious of the names and references in your case studies and examples. There should be a good mix of names from around the world, especially if you have a global group of learners. When sharing stories and examples, make sure they translate easily into other cultures.
This includes the use of humour, slang or local language, metaphors, stories and consider looking for worldwide research examples rather than consistently referencing the US or UK.
An example of segregated language, we say in the UK “its very marmite”. This reference makes sense to learners in the UK, but it makes less sense (or no sense) to learners from other countries. Use examples and references that are widely understood and culturally diverse.
6. Breakout groups
Almost all the platforms that you can use to run your virtual training workshops on, allow you to disperse your large group into smaller breakouts teams. This is a great opportunity for your learners to work together on tasks or engage in practice conversations. You might choose to keep the breakout groups diverse by making conscious decisions on who to put together. As most training globally is run using English you may have several learners who speak a different language. So it can be wise to keep them together enabling discussion and practice in their first language rather than also having them concentrate on translating.
Final thoughts making your learners feel welcome and valued in your virtual training workshop, no matter where they are logging in from, is very important. You want your learners to benefit from the full experience of your workshop and by ensuring you design it with them in mind, you will create a fun, engaging workshop that embraces diversity.
Need some help in creating the best multicultural workshop? Unsure how to meet the needs of all your learners? Contact us today to learn how.