Writing for a global audience – a business imperative

By Dr. Annapoorna Ravichander

In an era of globalization it has become imperative for companies to ensure that their documents be addressed professionally keeping in mind the global audience. The manufacture of various products pooled in from different countries and regions and assembled in one center has made it even more challenging to ensure that consistency is adhered to while documenting a process or a product.

Keeping this as a background, companies have begun to realize the need to enhance the existing skills of their writers who either write business proposals, guidelines, manuals, reports or for that matter, any form of writing.

This increasing level of participation in the global economy and establishment in foreign markets requires companies to adapt their products and services, and more importantly communications in every aspect of their design, creation and delivery to the language and culture of different nations.

Communications is a complex subject. At the most elementary level, ignoring its behavioral dimensions, it involves language, expression and medium; as a result, the English language has become the language of business.

According to the Wikipedia, non-native English speakers outnumber native English speakers by roughly three to one. In Asia alone, the number of English speakers is well over 350 million – more than the combined population of the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada. All multinational communication, whether via e-mail, over the telephone, or via video conference, is in the English language. Even in Europe 13% of EU citizens speak English as their native language. Another 38% of EU citizens state that they have sufficient skills in English to have a conversation. This adaptation is made easier by the fact that in most countries and cultures, one language is used almost universally – English. In fact historically speaking, English has been the most common language spoken in the business world.

One of the effects of globalization, however, is the adaptation of the English language to suit the conversational habits of a particular culture. In India, for example, we speak English with a mixture of Hindi and often a variety of other regional languages as well. Rather than wholly adopting and employing the English language as it is, we adapt it for comfort while speaking. While this is acceptable for casual conversation, it creates several problems in formal and business communication. Each country and culture employs the English language differently. Therefore, the accepted method of speaking English in one country – with regard to pronunciation, use of words and so on – may be utterly incomprehensible in another.

Business Communication demands conciseness, simplicity, precision, comprehensibility and, above all, clarity. The adaptation of the English language to suit a culture often results in casual conversation habits being carried over to formal and business communication as well – which, in turn, results in communication that is lengthy, complicated and difficult to understand. This, ultimately, is an acquired habit. Like all habits, with time and a conscious effort, changes can be made to spoken and written English to allow for a more generalized, universal standard of communication. Simplicity and clarity of communication come with practice and conscious effort.

Quality communication to ensure that the businesses run smooth in the challenging global world has become a great concern today. However, a good training customized to address the pain points of the employees will not only help overcome this handicap but will also help employees to complete their work with quality.

Dr. Annapoorna Ravichander has conducted several training programs both for the corporate and for retail trainings. She is a Communication Specialist, Writer and has created several reports as a freelance writer as well.