¿Habla Usted inglés?
We English as a first language speakers tend to be a lazy bunch. The first phrase we learn before travelling to a non-English speaking country often is “Do you speak English?” in the local lingo.
For us downunder, it’s not like Europe where one can drive across the border and become embodied in a new culture and language. The need to learn international languages hasn’t existed in the past. Well, that’s our excuse! But English speakers in general, do seem to have the expectation that everyone understands English.
Crowdfunding is global because it takes place on the internet.
Even if you launch a crowdfunding campaign in Australia on Pozible or in New Zealand on PledgeMe you are reaching a global audience. 15% of pledges on PledgeMe come from outside New Zealand. Pledges on Pozible campaigns have come from 89 different countries.
English is NOT an official language in Australia or England or the USA! But English is an official language in 56 countries, so says Wikipedia.
Not everyone viewing a crowdfunding campaign will have English as a first language. Even if they do have English as a first language, some will have reading difficulties.
I’ve spent the last month browsing international crowdfunding platforms most of whom use a language other than English. As someone with English as a first language, a sprinkling of French, a touch of Maori and greetings in a few languages, nihao, how did I fair? Not too bad, thanks for asking.
MY KEY LEARNINGS:
- Numbers are universal
- Images cross language barriers
- Body language is a global language
Numbers are Universal
Even on the European platforms where I can’t understand anything else about the campaign, I can always understand how much each reward is, how much is raised, the target amount i.e. anything in numbers.
On this Swedish crowdfunding campaign, Nerdy by Nerds for the manufacture of jeans, I can’t read the words but I can read the numbers and understand the images. Take a look and see how much you can understand. Did you notice the video pitch had English subtitles?
I was taught at school – for numbers less than ten, write it as a word and for numbers greater than 10, write it in numerals. Forget the rules! In crowdfunding, use numerals rather than words to communicate anything numeric.
Images Cross Language Barriers
It is said that a picture says a thousand words and this is definitely so when you can’t understand the language.
The image at the top of this post is an explanation of crowdfunding in Italian from crowdfunding platform, Boomstarter. My Italian is limited to pizza, spaghetti and the like so without the images, I could have understood the first and third phrases but I would have been totally stumped on the second phrase.
Rewards in images
- Chromacon 2013: Illustration & Comic Arts Festival – scroll down to view their reward images which would be understood regardless of language.
- An Album and a Journey by Masquerade also uses images to communicate the rewards on offer
- Crowdfunding platform, Sportaroo is designed to use an image for each reward
- BambooBee Cycle campaign has a lot of images including photographs of each reward
Project Budget in Images
- Dark Nouveau used an infographic to communicate the breakdown of her budget
Evoke the Sensations with Images
- STREAT café’s image of a person smelling coffee beans has stayed with me for months and I’m not a coffee drinker!
- And Kerfluffles marshmallows – YUM!
Telling your Story in Images
- Crabby Wallet creator Ryan Crabtree uses images to tell the story of how the wallet came to be including how he gave his wife a sewing machine for her birthday and then became a sewing machine hog!
Not everyone with English as a first language enjoys reading. A large block of words can be off-putting particularly after a day at work on the computer. Indiegogo provides further ideas for adding imagery to your crowdfunding campaign in Creative Ideas for Enhancing your Crowdfunding Campaign.
Body Language is a Global Language
Yes, there are many stories of cultural faux-pas involving body language but a video pitch in a foreign language can still be engaging and communicate a lot of information without understanding a single word said.
- This video pitch from a successful crowdfunding campaign for a French musician, Tiou is engaging and I get the feeling he’s a nice chap
- Another French video pitch, La Batook uses English subtitles to communicate with a larger audience
Everyone understands a smile.
A few other tips …
Slang, Speed & Colloquialisms
Native English speakers often speak fast and within each country we have our own slang terms. I’m from New Zealand so I say ‘jandals’, Australians laugh at me because they say ‘thongs’ (a thong means a g-string in NZ) and others call this item of footwear ‘flip-flops’. We need to be mindful of our slang and talking too quickly.
Why? You may be wondering, if you are speaking English in your video pitch do you need English subtitles. Not everyone has full hearing and some people learn a foreign language in its written form more easily. Also, it reinforces what is being said.
In the video pitch ‘From the Sea, To the Sea’ by George Siosi Samuels you can see the use of headings and script.
Pretending you don’t speak English, turn off the sound, and watch this short video pitch for the Beerend. With just the visuals, we can understand the project and get to know Zac a little – he likes beer, he’s been working at this design for a while, it works and with his smile, he comes across as friendly (or he had too many beers during the filming of the video pitch).
Watch your video pitch without the sound to get an idea of how much someone without English as a first language may understand from it. Also, what is your body language saying?
A visual crowdfunding pitch containing images, a video pitch and infographics:
- adds interest
- is more visually appealing
- communicates to a wider audience
“A good video is a necessity, if you want a successful crowdfunding project.” Almerico says in 5 Things Every Good Crowdfunding Video Should Do. “Fifty percent of crowdfunding projects with a video are successful. Conversely, only 30 percent of those without a video succeed.”
CREATE A VISUAL CROWDFUNDING PITCH & INCREASE THE SIZE OF UR CAPTIVE AUDIENCE
Image: Boomstarter, Italian Crowdfunding Platform