I tripped across a press release today with the strange headline I used for this post. It turned out to be an announcement of a two-day course on international business protocol. That got me thinking about international differences in webinar behavior.
Making generalizations is always a dangerous game… We have to realize that individuals are individual. Any one attendee may have personal preferences and expectations that run counter to the generalization you make for his or her culture. And sometimes your view of cultural behavior may be more of a reflection on you than on your audiences!
But I’m still interested in whether my readers can provide tips and observations on things they have noticed in general to be true when working with cultures other than American. Perhaps you come from another culture and have noticed American webinar practices that don’t play well in your country. The majority of my readers are American, and we can all benefit from some well-intentioned warnings and examples.
I will start the ball rolling with an impression I have from presenting to Japanese audiences. In general they are less prone to participate in informal or unstructured interactions during the presentation. They typically do not type questions while I am talking and are not as likely to jump in with questions and comments if you open the phone line and ask for feedback. Interactions work better if they are structured with a clear break from your own presentation delivery. So a formal poll will elicit more responses than a request to type general comments.
How about cultures where it seems improper for the moderator and presenters to address each other by first name during the webcast? How about cultures where starting with a joke would be seen as unprofessional or disrespectful to the business setting?
Please add your comments to this post. Let’s enhance international understanding and webinar effectiveness!
(By the way, a green hat in China apparently symbolizes that the recipient is a cuckold. Fortunately, this is unlikely to be a problem in webinars. Unless you give away some pretty unusual gifts to attendees!)