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My recent trip to India has once again sensitized me to an assumption that writers and speakers too often make:  that everyone understands what you mean to say.

Test yourself – what do the following three words mean?  Flyover, Subway, and Removalist.

If you are in India, a Flyover is a local bridge that “flies over local traffic”; elsewhere, it has something to do with airplanes.  In much of the world, a Subway is a road or pedestrian path that goes underneath another road; in Toronto a Subway refers to the Metro.  In Australia, a Removalist is someone who transports your possessions when you move houses; elsewhere this person is called a house mover.

When the mother tongue of the audience isn’t English, the problem intensifies.

Before delivering a critical presentation or posting a widely read blog or Twitter post, answer the following questions about your audience:

  • What is your audience’s English comprehension level?  Do you need to do part of your presentation in their language?  Or at least open with a local phrase?  I give a number of suggestions to address the issue in this Tipsheet.
  • Which English do they know? (American, British, Canadian, Indian, Australian, Hong Kong, etc) Does it make sense to test your content with a smaller group first?
  • Can you use local examples to help them better relate?  Or is it better to keep with universal principles – lowest common denominator – to avoid making an embarrassing mistake.

One of the most important reasons for a Social Media strategy is that it helps define your target audiences, and  lets you focus the version of your language squarely on this target.  Without a strategy, it will become increasingly difficult to use the “right” language to have an impact.

This week’s action plan: Whether you have a strategy or not, spend a few minutes defining your primary audience – then review your last few status updates, blog posts, or videos to see if they are using the “right” language to make an impact.  And when you are doing that critical presentation, remember that comprehension is in the mind of the audience, not the mouth of presenter.

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)
:  Professional credentials site
.com: Web strategy, technology, and development
:  Interviews with the nation’s thought-leaders


Access Assumptions

by Randall Craig on January 17, 2012

Filed in: Blog, Global Business, Make It Happen Tipsheet, Networking

Tagged as: , ,

One Billion.  You may think I’m referring to the number of Facebook and LinkedIn users, but I’m not.  I’m referring to the approximate population of India.

India retailer - no web site Note the wide variety of merchandise: from cigarettes to life insurance

While on a trip there, I decided to take pictures of local businesses, then compare the “real” with their Social Media presence.  Sadly, I was unable to find more than a handful on the web, let alone on the Social web; the notable exception being a few of the global brands.

Instead, I found a thriving entrepreneurial culture, where everyone – from the richest to the (almost) poorest – is connected in two ways: by cellphone, and in the real world.  The majority of the billion (95% to be exact) are busy living, rather than voyeuristically watching others live via Facebook – they don’t even have internet access.

The 5% have their favorite Social Networks, including Facebook, LinkedIn, Ibibo and Bharatstudent.  But for those of us who spend significant time with our own Social Media favorites, 95% is an important reminder:  most of the world is connected with real world relationships – not virtual ones.

This week’s action plan:  Is it possible that you have been neglecting the part of your network that isn’t regularly online?  Or isn’t online in your chosen social network?  This week, look through your electronic black book for those who are missing, and reach out to them in a way that is comfortable for them.

Lea Brovedani and Randall Craig in Mumbai, IndiaPS:  This is another example of how sprinkling more Social Media “juice” over an opportunity will not magically create more opportunity.  Organizations need to crack the relationship nut, and Social Media is but one vector that can help.

PPS:  While in Mumbai, I recently spent some time with fellow professional speaker Lea Brovedani for dinner.  While we did coordinate our plans using LinkedIn, we actually met in person at the restaurant.  Real-world networking in action!

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)
:  Professional credentials site
.com: Web strategy, technology, and development
:  Interviews with the nation’s thought-leaders


Signalling Your Intentions

by Randall Craig January 11, 2012

After spending a few days in India, I have a new-found appreciation for the horn. Unlike in North America (or Europe), Indian drivers have developed an entire language with this instrument. In a land where lane markings are ignored at best, as each vehicle (autorickshaw, car, motorcycle or truck) approaches from the side or rear, […]

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