So I was in New York this week, as you’ll have gathered from the picture above. That’s Central Park and it could be the Trump Tower in the background.
I was chairing a round table discussion for Professional Outsourcing Magazine, which I edit. We run these in London frequently, an invited group of experts come to hear a speaker over dinner. It went well but there were a number of learnings about working in America for the first time – I thought they may help if you’re presenting over there for the first time:
- It’s well understood that in spite of the language commonality and shared ancestry, modern America isn’t simply a bigger version of modern UK. So when the main speaker, based in New York, said “let’s make this interactive”, they really went for it. In the UK I find getting people to participate is a slow start, then they go for it – it wasn’t like that over there.
- The drop-out rate for evening events appears to be the same in the US as it is for the UK – we’d planned accordingly and still had a full house.
- If you’re planning an event over a meal, it’s important to find out what time the local participants will expect to eat. In the UK we’re fine with a 6.00pm-and-onwards arrival, drinks, sitting down to the speaker at 6.30, Q and A at 7.15 and the first course arriving towards 8. Our feedback from our American planner was that we couldn’t possibly hold off until 8 to start the food, people would be hungry.
- For this reason as well as many others, having someone local working with you is essential. Read up all you want, only someone steeped in the culture will know about all of the smaller points.
Oddly it was the second-last point that took me by surprise, which is crazy when you consider that I know perfectly well that (for example) Spanish people will expect to eat at around 9pm. Why should someone on another continent keep similar hours to ours?
It went well – as you’ll gather we had someone local which I believe is essential. Our next stop (other than the regular London events) will be Chicago – and I’m not taking it for granted that they will have the same expectations as their New York counterparts.
Do you need a facilitator for a round table event? I can help, drop me a mail by clicking here and we’ll talk.