Breaking down language barriers with Tesco’s global managers


    With an ongoing focus on expanding its presence in South East Asia, in 2011 retailing giant Tesco opened a new training academy in South Korea, which is attended by approximately 24,000 employees a year. As part of its training programme for the region’s high performing employees approaching promotion to director level, Tesco engaged the services of Leadership Skills Training to create and roll out a tailored presentation skills module.


    With less than 0.1% of employees achieving promotion to director, Tesco expects individuals at this level to inspire others within the business to achieve company goals, communicating their vision in a highly persuasive way. It’s also paramount that they are able to develop their teams, encouraging them to do more than they would have done on their own, providing a constant source of mentoring and setting a clear direction. A key challenge for many individuals at this level is demonstrating a corporate mind set whereby they can communicate their contribution to the bigger picture both succinctly and persuasively. Confidence in articulating thoughts and an impactful presentation technique – in conversations and meetings – is therefore crucial. Yet for the majority of course participants at the academy, English is not their first language, which makes presenting within an English speaking company doubly challenging. In fact, for many of the delegates, the course presentation is often the first they have done in English.


    Our method was to keep things simple, creating a straightforward bespoke ‘ABC’ visual reference to enable all delegates to present with impact, clarity and confidence and to which they can refer back in the future. The visual reference highlights the key areas of audience, organisation and content, with a magical template for crystallising messages and practical tips on areas such as handling nerves, body language, voice and using visual aids. A number of scenarios are covered off in the course, including impromptu speaking and Q&A sessions, so that individuals can feel confident and prepared at all times.


    Course participants have reported that they have been able to transform their presentation style, and are now able to communicate messages in a clear, impactful way that resonates with their audience. The feedback from non-native English speakers is that they never would have imagined being able to communicate their thoughts so effectively in English, and the course has provided them with the tools to do so immediately and in any situation. Tesco appointed Leadership Skills to run the course in Asia three times a year, while the CEO remarked that he always looks forward to hearing the presentations that employees are required to deliver once they reach the end of their development programme.