We all know the Internet has made our planet a much smaller world. People all over the world communicate to work, exchange and collaborate.
And I don’t need to tell you that English has become THE global language. In a small world where (almost) everybody is connected through the Internet, we needed a way to communicate and English filled the position. It was already the most international language, the language of business. But with the Internet, it really became global.
If you’re a native speaker, meaning that you grew up in a country where English is the main language (United States, England, Australia, New-Zealand), you’re in luck. You don’t have to learn a new language in order to communicate with the world.
You Are Talking To A Global Audience
But you also have to be aware that some of your website visitors, some of your prospects, some of the people you market to and that consume your content are NOT native speakers. In some cases, it might even be that the majority of your audience doesn’t speak English as their first language. They are like me; English is their second language. For example, in my past business, a big part of my visitors were from India.
Just in case you’re interested, my first language is French. Was I born in France? No! I’m actually a French Canadian from the great city of Montreal. And if you’ve never heard of us, we’re about 5 million “survivors” still speaking French in the Canadian province of Quebec. But enough of the geolinguistic lesson!
All that being said, you need to write in a way that will be well understood by a global audience. Same thing goes for any type of content you produce. So how do you do that?
Write In A Clear And Simple Way
When you write, your job is to make sure your message is delivered in a clear, concise and compelling way. According to Demian Farnworth, it’s actually your only job as a writer. In this article, Demian says that you should forget about the complex syntax and structure you learned in college and write in a more simple way.
People online are looking for information…and they want it fast. So go to the point and make sure they understand what you mean right away (I don’t want to have to read your paragraph twice).
And if you want to sell stuff, you better make sure your copy is well understood because confusion is the number one enemy of conversion.
Makes sense right? And it makes even more sense if you want to ensure your copy is read and understood by your global audience.
That’s one area where I have an unfair advantage over you. Because English is my second language, my writing is simple, not by choice but by necessity. I just couldn’t write complicated sentences. I stick with the only thing I can write, simple words in a simple structure. And I suggest you do the same thing, even if you can write fancier, more complex stuff. You might have to adjust the way you write a little bit.
Don’t Use Too Much Regional Expressions
This is true in writing, but even more so if you’re doing audio and video. If you’re from the south of the US and you have a southern accent, that’s great! It’s part of who you are, it’s part of your heritage. But please, make sure I can understand you.
That means not using expressions only the people living in your area will understand. I you tell me you’re “worn to a frizzle”, then I’m sorry, but I don’t know what you mean! You might as well just tell me you’re very tired.
What Did He Just Say? Tone Down That Accent
When it comes to video or audio, it may mean toning down you accent little bit. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against accents. I love accents; I think they are a great testament of the various cultures of our planet.
I myself have a pretty strong French Canadian accent. But just remember that you are on a global stage and that someone who grew up on the other side of the planet may want to understand what you have to say.
I find that Craig Ferguson is the best example of this. We all know he’s Scottish and he doesn’t try to hide his accent. But Americans (and I) don’t have any problems understanding him. I’m sure he could be perfectly incomprehensible if he wanted, but he chooses to speak in an authentic yet accessible way. Actually, his accent is worse when he’s back from a trip back to Scotland. See what I mean here.
We’re all different. We come from different parts of the globe, we come from different cultures and we all speak a bit differently. But the beauty of the world we live in today is that we can all communicate together and learn for each other in beautiful language that I like to call global English.
From now on, when you write or record a piece of content, ask yourself “can this be understood by a Swede, a German or an Indian person who speaks English as a second language”?
Do you have a global audience? Are you aware of its existence? Do you find it challenging to produce content in this new global reality? Share your thoughts in the comments.