• Verbu

Two Nations Divided By A Common Language

What’s the boldest step you’ve ever taken? I have a good friend who sat me down in a London bar 6 years ago and told me he was going to move to the USA to work as an entertainment journalist.

I was supportive and pragmatic in equal measure. Whilst I wasn’t entirely au fait with the immigration hoops that would need to be leapt through, I had once been interviewed at the U.S. Embassy in London to persuade them to give me a media visa – and the hoops that I had to jump through so I could work for just one week in the country meant I wasn’t entirely convinced his plan would work out.

Egg on my face (sunny side up)! He’s been there five years now, working for some of the biggest entertainment outfits in the world – and when I spoke to him on Facetime the other week, his LA apartment looked AMAZING. I’m jealous and inspired in equal measure.

On reading a number of his articles, two things struck me (aside from them being very good):

- He had adapted all references and spellings to suit an American audience

- He referenced things that made sense to a US audience and offered very little cultural reference to my UK world

So when you’re presenting to your colleagues at work, accepting an award at your local community group or recording your first podcast, always consider your audience. What matters to them? What cultural references will make sense to them (and which ones that make sense to you should you cull from your speech to avoid confusion)?

Importantly, never presume prior knowledge, whoever you are speaking to. I was evaluating a lady a couple of weeks ago where she referenced her husband by name, without explaining it was her husband. I knew who her husband was – but the audience listening might not have and subsequently the point might have been lost.

And without allowing for all of the above, you may be doing the verbal equivalent of dumping your speech in the trash. Or rubbish bin, if you prefer.

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