English is the working language of Pyrotek’s international workforce but not always the first language of every employee. Pyrotek’s sales teams need excellent global communication skills to be able to build strategic relationships with their clients worldwide and to provide them with the best solutions.
Pyrotek is a leading international organisation specialising in the development, manufacture and sale of high-temperature materials for industrial applications. Headquartered in the US and with 66 locations in 31 countries, Pyrotek offers industry-leading expertise and global consulting to clients worldwide.
Pyrotek holds an annual sales conference which is attended by more than 130 sales consultants from Pyrotek locations worldwide. About 30 of these attendees deliver presentations themselves. The majority of presenters are experienced and many have presented at previous sales conferences.
The Pyrotek steering committee, responsible for organising the conference, identified the need to develop the presentation skills of the culturally diverse presenter pool. The committee was keen for presenters to take a consistent approach to presenting and additionally be able to adapt their style to their international audience. They were also keen to raise the overall standard of the presentations at the next conference and so approached Communicaid to discuss the design and delivery of a series of presentations skills training solutions.
The main challenges were seen as:
Communicaid and Pyrotek agreed that training would be delivered via WebEx Training Center, Communicaid’s selected virtual training platform. This would avoid the significant costs of bringing all employees together to one central location for face-to-face training and would enable an interactive forum where colleagues from around the world could come together to share best practice and engage with an expert trainer.
Communicaid’s assigned design team held detailed discussions with the steering committee to understand the current strengths and skills gaps of the selected presenters as well as to understand more about the content of the presentations and the conference as a whole. We were also given access to the presentation template and guidelines together with examples of previous slide decks to enable us to tailor the training closely to the needs of the organisation and the individual delegates.
A series of virtual seminars were designed to:
Communicaid designed a series of virtual training workshops to be delivered via WebEx Training Center. This platform replicates many of the features of face-to-face training allowing the use of interactive whiteboard, polling, file and application sharing as well as harnessing voice over internet (VoIP) and video contact. Communicaid designed each of the three modules to develop the themes raised in the previous one, further building skills such as non-verbal communication, the use of English, being flexible to the audience’s needs and expectations, etc.
Each session combined practical techniques, hints and tips with quizzes, review exercises, mini case studies and discussion allowing more experienced delegates to share their insights with the less seasoned presenters in the group. All three workshops were highly interactive with the emphasis on whole group participation using instant messaging to provide live input. Real-time exercises, together with practical ‘take-aways’, gave delegates ideas and strategies which could be applied immediately as they began work on their conference presentations.
The sessions were delivered on consecutive days and each session was delivered twice to cater for participants across all time zones. Each two-hour session focused on a specific element of delivering presentations to global audiences:
Module One: Creating Effective Presentations
The first module was aimed at challenging participants’ basic design approach to presentations. They were encouraged to re-evaluate the structure and appearance of slides to create impactful, memorable slides. The trainer facilitated discussions on use of animations and fonts to find ways to enhance rather than distract.
Module Two: Communicating in Global English
The middle section took the outcome of the previous one, and showed how the structure of the presentation can contribute to the clarity of the message. Delegates were given suggestions as to how they could adapt their use of English for international audiences and had the opportunity to practice variations in pace and tone, signposting, and clarifying their language use.
Module Three: Presenting across Cultures
The concluding part of the course focussed on the cultural elements that impact on communication. Taking the points on international English from Session Two, delegates were introduced to relevant cultural models to help them identify the most appropriate style for specific audiences. Delegates reviewed tools to help minimise the risk of miscommunication in intercultural situations. Finally the trainer led a discussion on the top tips for international presentations.
A number of key presentation skills were developed and enhanced during these sessions:
Delegates participated fully in the activities, engaging in the discussions, sharing ideas and experiences and asking questions, creating an atmosphere of purposeful work and good humour.
In addition to preparing the attendees for their conference presentations, the programme also provided an opportunity to talk about cultural differences, different communication styles, and the use of English as an international language – from native and non-native speaker points of view. Throughout the programme there was an open and respectful environment which fully demonstrated and celebrated the richness and the value of cultural diversity within the company.
Delegates were very positive about the impact of these training sessions as they had gained concrete tools and strategies to implement immediately as they prepared for the global sales conference.
The sessions were amazing and exceeded our expectations.
Perfect as is. Great trainer and material.
I enjoyed the interaction as well as the comments from other participants. Also the opportunity to pass on some personal tips to others in an open meeting.
Everything was useful even if it was only a reminder or refresher.