Storytelling: After Delivering Workshops in 19 Countries…

I live in Singapore and one of the best things about living in Singapore is the cultural diversity you experience. As a resident, I enjoy this but as a working professional I have fallen on my face a few times because of this cultural diversity I am surrounded with.

It is great to consume facets of cultural diversity but it is hard to cater to it.

A few years ago I found myself in a workshop where no matter what I said, what I did, what I asked or what I explained. I was only getting a blank look from the participants in the workshop.

I was puzzled, I mean I had been doing this stuff for a while and was confident of my ability to get to the desired outcome. Results from my previous workshops were the foundation of my confidence.

But this workshop was a different beast. I was not getting anywhere and I was feeling it every passing second of the workshop.

After a lot of discussions with trusted advisors, reflections and trying to figure it out, it hit me I was in a room full of people who come from a nationality that I have never worked with before.

They don’t consume knowledge and experiences like other participants that I had been working with.

For example,  when I was delivering a workshop in Japan,I said to the workshop participants, “let’s just focus on progress and not perfection. You don’t have to wait for your work to be perfect before you share.”

My expectation was so against what Japanese are known for, relentless Pursuit of Perfection.

Given I was communicating to people from a completely different nationality it was my responsibility to cater to their learning style but what had never even occured to me was that where you come from plays a role in how you learn.

Yes, Indians, Japanese, Australians, Indonesians etc all have a unique way of thinking, behaving and as a result learning.

For you to drive the desired outcome, you have to design learning experiences that cater to those needs and in a place like Singapore I am sometimes working with 7 – 8 nationalities at one time.

One of my original entrenched view was that when I write blogs which I have been writing regularly since 2014, I do not think which nationality I am writing for. Nationality is never a consideration.

The purpose of my blogs is to educate, the purpose of my workshops is to educate then why one works and other doesn’t?

Ahhhh….. it finally struck me. The knowledge that I put online is consumed by those who themselves have made a decision to consume it. They read it at the speed they like, re read it they need to or completely ignore my content if it is not for them.

A live workshop is different, in corporate workshops you are nominated to attend the workshop mostly, I talk and you have to keep up with my talking style. Classroom learning is different to digital learning. A lot of your success in a classroom is dependant on whether you are catering to the individual.

After delivering Strategic Storytelling Workshops in 19 different countries I have learnt that it’s not about what I know but about taking notice and putting enough care in to catering to my audience and yes, nationality plays a role.

So, think of where you are headed and how does a [ insert nationality ] think.

Put enough care in to making a learning experience right for that nationality. It’s your responsibility.

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Why the QR Code? The answer is in the request below we received from a regular blog reader.

"I attended your story telling course some time back. And I've enjoyed keeping up my knowledge with your blog. You may not have realised however, that the Whole of Government is implementing Internet Seperation. Hence I'm not able to access the links to read your articles. Could I suggest including a QR code in your emails so that I can use my mobile to scan it and gain immediate access to the article? It would be most helpful"