When you are hosting an international conference call, it is important to find proper ways to overcome language barriers, cultural differences and make everyone feel equal.
This can sometimes be difficult to accomplish, but not impossible, especially if you follow a set of rules meant to help you get the most out of a conference call.
International conference calls can sometimes be hard to schedule, so the last thing you want to do is make the attendants feel like they have not gained anything from a one-hour call. Below are six tips to help you prepare for the conference and make it a success.
Table of contents:
Plan the conference way ahead
The worst thing you can do, especially when it comes to an international conference call, is giving people notice only one day prior.
Remember that you all work on different time zones, so even if you feel like you sent the email two days ahead, the other participants may already be out of the office and only receive the email the next day.
The best option is to send a notice at least three to four days prior to the scheduled date, to give everyone time to prepare.
Keep in mind that English is not everyone who’s going to be on the call’s first language, so allowing everyone at least a few days to prepare what they need to say is extremely important.
Keep in mind time zone differences
When hosting the call, you need to take into consideration the different time zones.
Don’t schedule the call when it’s most convenient for you. Take the time to check the time in every area and try to find a time when everyone is going to be in the office.
If some of the people who are going to be in the meeting are working from home, try to take that into consideration too. The best way is to ask everyone when it’s best convenient for them and try to find common ground. It may not always be possible, but you can at least try to get as close to that time as possible.
Send out an agenda in advance
Try to have at least a raw sketch for what subjects the conference is going to follow and make sure you send that out to everyone who is going to be in the meeting.
Again, keep in mind that some of those attending the conference call have another primary language, so it will give them time to understand the information and prepare for the call. Make sure to let them know you are available for contact prior to the call, in case they have any question.
If possible, translate the schedule or, at least the main topics of discussion into the native language of those who are not fluent in English. You can use translation services, such as The Word Point, to make sure the information sent is correctly written. This will show a lot of consideration and will ensure everyone knows at least what the main topics of discussion are.
Schedule some time for Q&A
At the end of the conference, schedule at least 10 minutes for questions, to clarify any misunderstandings.
Conferences can get a bit hectic; the connection may sometimes be poor and some people may not have understood everything you were talking about.
Let everyone know, at the beginning of the call, that there will be some time for questions. This way, you will avoid everyone throwing questions and not letting the other one finish talking. Encourage them to write the questions down and address them in the end, for better discussion flow.
Record the conference
Another great way to make sure everyone caught up on everything that was discussed is to record the call and have it available for them if they need it. This way, if someone had a problem understanding something, they can go back on that subject later.
You can use a simple call recorder and then archive the file and have it sent over an email to everyone who was on the call. Again, make sure to let them know about the recording, to avoid any type of issue.
Remember cultural differences
When making jokes or use slang, as it may get interpreted badly by other people on the call.
Some people may not be aware of your culture, just like you may not be aware of others’, and the last thing you want to do is have someone feel offended by what was just a poor choice of words.
Taking the time to understand their culture will also help if this is the first time you hold a conference involving them. You can find out what the business etiquette in their country is, if you should talk on a first name basis or if you should be more formal or informal during the call. This will give you some extra points and ensure everything goes as planned.
Conference calls hold the disadvantage of not being able to see the other people’s reactions, so you need to make everything as smooth and simple as you can.
Taking the time to understand their culture, respecting the time zone and giving them all the means to make this meeting as productive as possible is going to help you make this conference call as productive as possible.