3 Steps to Leading in a Foreign Land

Freak Out and Lose Control

Leading situations and teams can be difficult on any given day. But when you jump into a situation where you are called upon to lead in short-order and everything about the ordeal is absolutely foreign to you, then this is when you need to get a leadership plan that works.

Freaking out is not an option! Your plan has to be a plan that is short, smart, and sweet!

No Worries Leadership

Different culture? Different technology? No do-overs? No problem…

A few weeks ago I received an invitation to present on a Google Hangout from the editor of a popular philanthropy blog. The CEO of the organization had read one of my ebooks and was interested in having me share a few of my thoughts on nonprofit leadership with her community.  

After excitedly accepting the invitation, I considered the situation I had just put myself in.

  1. This organization was based in a different country, and served people of a different culture than mine. 
  2. I had never presented on this specific topic before and the show would be liveno do-overs if I made a mistake.
  3. I had never used Google Hangout before and was admittedly nervous about using new technology.

My 3 Step Game Plan

As I considered all these variables, I began to map out a game plan of how I planned to deliver a meaningful, natural presentation in spite of my concerns.

Here is the action plan that I walked myself through during the weeks leading up to my first Google Hangout. 

1) Research everything and and thing about the organization that had invited me to present. 

I had to answers to these questions:

  • Who were the people on the panel that would be leading the discussion?
  • What was important to them?
  • What was the mission and vision of their organization?
  • What were they hoping to accomplish by having me on the Hangout?
  • Who were some of the people they had had on the show previously?
  • What was the style of communication they were looking for?
  • Were there any precautions I needed to take to ensure I was presenting in a tone that respected their unique culture?
  • What was the demographic of their audience?

2) Write up a detailed minute-by-minute presentation outline. 

I knew that the show was forty minutes long and that the panel wanted five questions they would use to lead the discussion. Forty minutes minus ten minutes for off-the-cuff dialogue here and there left me with 30 minutes of content I needed to create (or six minutes per question).

From there I went to my notes and wrote down three talking points per question allowing myself two minutes to cover each point.

After I had my outline, I had some other people read it to make sure that it made sense and then began to practice on my own.

 3) Master the technology. 

Although I had attended Google Hangouts in the past, I had never presented on one before. Priority number one became learning HOW to use this tool like a pro.

To get as much input as I could, I asked anyone I knew who had presented on a Hangout for their personal advice, researched best-practices blogs and played around with it knowing that the more comfortable I felt with the technology, the more relaxed I would be during the presentation.

I made a shortlist of the top five tips I had found and began to get everything ready. Examples: I made sure to use a room that had great lighting, made sure my kids wouldn’t be making noise with the babysitter in the background etc.

When the Hangout day finally came I was ready and the feedback I got afterwards from the panel was that I had nailed it. I was really happy that it had gone well but honestly I was more excited that my game plan had worked – I now had a proven template I could follow for future presentations.

Leading in a Foreign Land

I found that because I had taken the time to prepare, I was able to be completely present during the discussion and truly enjoyed the experience instead of being rigid, rushed and anxious.

Following these or similar steps will help you lead like a winner when everything seems foreign to you.

have you ever been “thrown into” a situation where you had to lead in a place or circumstance that felt foreign to you? What do YOU do to prepare for presenting in an environment that is foreign to you? I would love to hear your thoughts!


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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

Natasha Golinsky
Natasha Golinsky is the Founder of Next Level Nonprofits
She helps nonprofit CEO’s take their leadership skills to the next level
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L2L Contributing Author