Cross Cultural Training Case Study

Client Profile 

Speak the Speech

Founded in 1999, Speak the Speech deliver seminars and courses designed to enhance participants’ presentation and communication skills and improve their confidence in their ability to communicate.

They deal with a variety of businesses and have provided training for company directors, fund managers, department heads, team leaders, professional sports people and barristers.

Speak The Speech’s client list includes Burberry, Sony, American Airlines, Britvic, Citi, the Post Office, BAE Systems, Capital One, Laing O’Rourke, HSBC, Telefonica, Baker & McKenzie, the British Olympic Association, and the English Institute of Sport.

The Challenge

Speak The Speech work with a number of clients in the Middle East, in Qatar in particular, delivering a range of communication skills programmes. However, both Speak The Speech and their clients found many challenges working with a very different business and social culture, and both felt that they were unable to take full advantage of the opportunities a developing region offered them.

Speak The Speech also saw the opportunity to add a cross-cultural training course to the portfolio they offer their clients in the region, focusing on ‘Doing Business in the Middle East’.

The Solution

International House London designed a programme which combined a cross-cultural workshop on working with Middle Eastern cultures, and then complemented it with a ‘Train the Trainer’ element. This had 2 objectives:

  1. To enable Speak The Speech to be able to work more effectively with clients in the region by acquitting a deeper level of understanding of how the local culture informs approaches to, among others,  business, social interaction, time, hierarchy, decision-making, and family.
  2. To enable Speak The Speech to offer a similar training seminar to their clients in the Middle East, in particular UK owners and managers struggling to work effectively with their partners, colleagues and employees.

This was a 2-day programme, and took place at International House London’s training centre in Covent Garden. There were 5 participants from Speak The Speech, including the founders and directors.


Speak The Speech have acquired a much deeper understanding of Middle Eastern business and social culture, which they can apply to their own experience of working in the area.

They now successfully offer their cross-cultural training programme to their UK clients working in Qatar and the wider region.

What Course Participants Said

Jonathan Bacon, Director, Speak The Speech:

"The course was brilliant. International House made extensive enquiries beforehand to find out exactly what we wanted so that the programme was entirely bespoke to suit our challenges. The two days flew by and were led by a vastly experienced and knowledgeable facilitator."

"From the outset he made us see that the preconceptions and first impressions we glean from meeting people in the Middle East can immediately cause problems in building relationships with clients. He was able to make us understand the other perspective and gave us invaluable tips and insight into how to adapt our behavior to produce more harmonious relations; to listen and understand before speaking and to ask the right questions."

"I should also mention that the course was highly practical and a lot of fun. David was brave in his coaching methods. For example when we met him for the first time he hardly looked at us, was very quiet and offered a very “weak” handshake. We were not exactly bowled over by him! But this was a tactic designed to show us how quickly we can build up misconceptions about people as he pointed out that his handshake was not “weak” but “soft” and that more than half of the world shake hands like that out of respect and deference. This set the tone for a course that was both enlightening and informative."

"I really cannot recommend this course highly enough and the proof is in the pudding as we are now using International House ourselves in the Middle East and are about to commission another Cross Cultural training programme for China."

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