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Wenn (Online-) Communication-Skills auf Language-Training treffen | Interview mit Mark Heather

Kommunikations-Skills als eine Schlüsselkompetenz, nicht nur für Führungskräfte. Einen, der Experte auf diesem Gebiet ist, lud ich zum Interview: Mark Heather (MHC Business Language Training, Foto rechts).

Er erzählte mir, wie es (ausgehend von einem Laguage-Institut) zu dieser Spezialisierung kam, wie er mit den letzten Monaten umging und wie sich sein Business – aus heutiger Sicht – weiterentwickeln wird. Er hat eine extrem angenehmen und offene Art, die auch im Interview zu spüren ist.

Und ich freue mich, dass wir das Interview gleich in Englisch führten – einerseits weil es für ein Business-language-Institut gut passt, andererseits weil Mark Brite ist und dritterseits da ich weiß, dass die HRweb-Leser mit Englisch gut umgehen können. Daher können wir ganz authentisch in der für dieses Interview richtigen Sprache bleiben.

 

 

What is the your main focus with MHC?

MHC Business Language Training specialises in communication and presentation skills seminars (currently webinars) and language training. Our most popular webinar is the Power Presenter program which consists of four half-day modules: 1. Fundamentals, 2. Design, 3. Presentation and 4. Performance. Participants learn everything from setting up their tech, dynamic body language, designing slides, structuring their talk, engaging their audience, being persuasive and increasing influence, using their voice as an instrument, understanding and triggering emotions, being charismatic, winning both hearts and minds, and engaging their audience.

The webinars are intensive and stimulating because of the high interaction between the trainers and the group. People tell us in their feedback what they find especially valuable is that they can transfer the learnings immediately into their real-life situations when they have to present or communicate with people within or outside the company. That means they can use the benefits and receive the value right away.

Another important branch of our business is language training that we provide corporate clients locally in Austria and Slovakia or remotely worldwide. All of our courses follow the blended-learning approach using our online study platform GO! Blended. The main languages we teach are business English, German, Spanish, French, Italian and Portuguese. In addition, we focus on various target groups from coaching top management, delivering small-group training for employees to giving large-group training for apprentices.

Which way did your business go within the last 5 years?

We founded MHC Business Language Training at the peak of the 2008 financial crisis! Initially, we were a language training institute specialising in business English courses for companies in and around Vienna. However, during the following years, we expanded our scope to include other languages and opened a subsidiary office in Bratislava to better serve our Slovak clients.

Over the years, we noticed that how we delivered our business language training had evolved far beyond simply teaching vocabulary and grammar. Instead, it became clear we were training people in broader communication skills, of which the language aspect was just one (important) element.

Five years ago, the type of training we were giving was a hybrid of language and communication skills. Nowadays, our institute has two distinct branches to its business: Business communication seminars (currently webinars) and corporate language training (now all online).

Our business communication webinars focus mainly on presentation skills and communicating more persuasively to increase your influence in and outside the company. We believe that all communication is a form of persuasion, and anyone can learn these skills. Of course, some people are born with a certain charisma, but the qualities that make somebody ‘charismatic’ are teachable, and anyone can learn them. The trend towards this form of training has accelerated in the past five years.

How did your business change due to covid?

We were fortunate that when the pandemic hit during February/March 2020, we had spent the previous five years transitioning our business to be more digital by offering all of our training online. That opened up exciting possibilities to reach out to learners worldwide, enabling us to serve better our clients, many of which are multinational companies. So even though we couldn’t have predicted what would happen at the start of 2020, we could not have been better prepared. In the meantime, our training has now switched 100% online.

The transition for us couldn’t have been smoother. But, at the same time, some clients themselves made the transition more quickly than others. For some clients, we were already giving online training anyway, so nothing changed. For other companies, after a short transition period, they switched their training programs online as well.

It has taken more time for other companies, and even a couple of them are still waiting for things to get back to ‘normal’ before resuming their traditional classroom training programs like before.

Where will MHC be in 5 years – if you had to predict it?

Communication is such a vast and endlessly fascinating topic that I see MHC expanding within this field. Companies that can communicate better internally and externally, e.g. with customers, journalists, or shareholders, have a competitive advantage. Statistics show that companies with excellent communication skills are one week more productive per year per employee than companies who communicate less well. If you multiply those gained weeks by the number of employees, that is a lot of weeks (or years!). Therefore, we expect to continue providing communication training so our clients’ employees become better presenters, better team players, and better leaders.

What has been noticeable with companies switching online is in understanding the vital role emotion plays in communication. By triggering certain positive feelings to enable people to resonate more with others is more critical than ever. At MHC, we talk about adding a DOSE of emotion to your communication where D stands for dopamine, O is for oxytocin, S is serotonin, and E is for endorphins. Presenters must understand how to induce dopamine to engage their audience. Managers need to know how to win their teams trust by stimulating a release of oxytocin. Leaders must inspire people by triggering serotonin. And everyone wants to feel valued and respected, which happens when the endorphins are flowing from the brain.

The role of emotion and its role in communication is a mystery for many people, so MHC will continue to help people in this field in the future.

What – within the pas tof MHC – was an essential milestone, that was extremely important to where you stand now?

Around five years ago, we made the difficult but essential decision to transition all our processes online. We were uncertain how necessary online training would be, but it has since clearly become apparent that it was a critical moment and the correct decision. As a result, we introduced GO! Blended, our online study platform using the blended learning approach in all our courses for online and face-to-face training.

Most institutes were set up in the traditional sense, providing classroom courses or seminars or were 100% online. We wanted to place ourselves as a hybrid of the two, still providing local training face-to-face courses and offering all our training in an online format at the same time. It has given both our clients and us the flexibility to design optimal training programs for their employees. It also enabled us to reach clients worldwide from Austria or Switzerland in Europe, to the USA/Canada, to Brazil/South America, and China/Asia. Serving so many people in multiple time zones from all corners of the globe has been as fascinating as it has been a privilege for us.

Danke, Mark für diese Einblicke!

Im Anschluss an dieses Interview plauderten wir noch weiter und ich erhielt noch persönlichere Einblicke. Diese können Sie hier am 29juni2021 lesen. Freuen Sie sich darauf!


Interview-Partner

Mark Heather is owner and CEO at MHC Business Language Training, an institute based in Vienna and Bratislava. He is a communication and presentation skills trainer with an educational background in psychology and management. He gives courses and webinars to companies in Austria, the Diplomatic Academy and has previously lectured at the FH Wien. mark.heather@mhc-training.com I www.mhc-training.com

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