The internet and technology have made international business more accessible than ever. International conference call services, such as those you can get with Together Talk Audio from the Conference Group, are a critical part of keeping international teams together. International conference calling has become easier, but logistical and cultural challenges remain. Here are four tips you can use to host better international conference calls.
One of the biggest challenges involved with international conference calls is finding the right time. It becomes harder to find a single time that works for everyone, the farther apart the people are spread. When someone on the west coast of the U.S. wants to set up a meeting with a person in Europe, they have to consider that the early afternoon in the U.S. is late at night across the Atlantic Ocean.
At some level, compromise is required. Some meeting attendees will have to join the call at a time when they usually wouldn’t be working. However, meeting organizers need to make sure this compromise doesn’t mean someone is joining the call at 3 a.m. in their local time. You need people to be at their best during the call, so you don’t want attendees falling asleep because the call is scheduled at the wrong time. Finding the right time is tricky, but the effort is necessary for a successful international conference call. If you need help figuring out the best way to host an international conference call, talk to a meeting specialist from the Conference Group for valuable advice.
When working with a diverse, international team, special consideration should be given to local cultural differences. It’s easy for misunderstandings to occur when language and societal barriers are allowed to affect the meeting. To avoid this issue, it’s a good idea to keep slang and humor to a minimum in international calls. A hilarious joke in one area could be horribly offensive to people in another part of the world.
Similarly, slang and idioms often go over the heads of people who aren’t native speakers of the language. The saying “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.” is going to create more questions than answers for someone who hadn’t heard the expression before. Even when you’re speaking the same language, regional differences can lead to misunderstanding. For example, in the U.S., to “table” an item on the agenda would mean that it’s not being considered at the moment. However, in the U.K., to “table” an item means to bring it up for discussion.
Like any other conference call, international conference call leaders need to ensure there is no unnecessary noise on the line. Keeping the line clear grows in importance for international calls, since participants aren’t native speakers and need to hear what is being said clearly. (It’s also worth reminding call leaders to speak slowly and clearly when talking to an international audience, as it increases the likelihood that the audience will understand you.) Trying to translate a language based on sound becomes nearly impossible if there is background chatter or construction noise mixed in. Call leaders should encourage attendees to be mindful of their surroundings and background noise. Remind people to mute their lines when they aren’t speaking to avoid unnecessary sounds. And if you’re using Together Talk Audio from the Conference Group, the leader can mute all lines and get rid of the disturbance. If you’re using one of our operator-assisted options, you can have the operator listen for the disruptive line and mute the individual.
When it’s an option, you should consider recording an international conference call and making transcripts available. When attendees are working in a language that isn’t their native tongue, having a transcript makes it easier to review what was said and catch any points that were missed. Recordings and transcripts can also mitigate the issue of people who are unable to attend due to time zone constraints. These individuals can listen to the recordings to catch up on the information they missed during the meeting.
You can record calls using Together Talk Audio from the Conference Group, but it’s crucial to get the permission of the people on the call. Besides being professional and courteous, it may be legally required. In some jurisdictions, it’s illegal to record a call without the knowledge or consent of the other party. It’s easier always to be upfront about call recording than try to navigate the legal framework to decide if you’re required to let the other party know. This is why many call centers have a boilerplate message about the possibility of call recording; it provides them with legal cover for any call recording laws.
If you’re ready to save money on high-quality international conference calls, it’s time to switch to Together Talk Audio from the Conference Group. Speak to one of our meeting specialists to learn how you can host better virtual meetings for your team.