6 Etiquette Tips for Hosting
an International Conference Call
There’s no denying that communication has come a long way. Today, you can connect with people across the state or even across the globe with just a simple click of a button. But, when doing so, you want to ensure that you’re polished, professional, and using the appropriate etiquette. That task becomes even more challenging when you’re hosting an international conference call, when different time zones, customs, and communication styles are at play.
Fortunately, we have six tips you can implement to make your next international call a success.
1. Know Your Time Zones
Navigating time zones is one of the trickiest aspects of communicating internationally. With such huge time gaps between participants, it’s tough to find a scheduled time that works for everyone.
This is something to be mindful of when scheduling your call. You don’t want anyone to have to roll themselves out of bed in the middle of the night in order to participate in that conversation. If your time zone is the one that’s competing with someone else’s, the courteous thing to do is to accommodate his or her schedule—even if that means hosting a call somewhat outside of your traditional working hours.
Need help getting a grasp on the different time zones involved in your call? This world clock meeting planner is a great resource.
2. Do Some Research
When you’re hosting a call with people outside of the country, it’s important to remember that the etiquette might change. Not everybody communicates and interacts the same way that we do here in America. That light-hearted comment or joke might be perceived as rude, for example, or there might be some differences in the way you’re supposed to address other people.
That’s important information for you to know to ensure that your call goes smoothly. So, ahead of your call, take some time to research the cultures of the various countries you’ll be communicating with. That will keep you from inadvertently offending anyone.
3. Minimize Language Barriers
Even if all of your participants are familiar with English, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re as fluent as you are. You might still run into a few language barriers that cause difficulties. Distribute things like agendas, notes, presentations, and other documents ahead of the call so that people have time to review those resources. Participants who aren’t as fluent in English will appreciate the chance to familiarize themselves with the items that will be discussed—so that they can be prepared to contribute to the discussion.
Also, make an effort to slow down when you’re speaking. We have the tendency to speak much faster than many parts of the world, and you want to make sure that you’re giving other call participants the chance to actually understand you.
4. Show Up on Time
Attending your conference call on time is crucial whether it’s international or not. But, it carries even more importance when you’ve had to work around numerous time zones to agree on a time (and running late could be viewed as even more disrespectful in other cultures).
Make sure that you’re prepared to show up on time for that scheduled call. In fact, if you’re the host, you should plan to be on the call early to introduce yourself and welcome other participants.
5. Offer Other Options
Despite your best efforts, there are some time zones that are seemingly impossible to accommodate. When participants are over 12 hours apart, you’ll likely never be able to have everybody together. If that’s the case, you should offer convenient alternatives to the live conference call.
For example, recording and playback options are helpful for anyone who was unable to attend the call at the scheduled time. They can still get the information they need and benefit from the recording of the discussion—at their own convenience.
6. Familiarize Yourself With Your Conferencing Solution
This is another tip that’s important whether your call is local or international. Nobody wants to waste time while you deal with technical issues or attempt to find the feature you need. Take the time to familiarize yourself with your conferencing solution before you ever have others join you on the call. Do a practice call if you need to so that you can ensure you know how everything works and can troubleshoot any potential issues.
Getting any kinks ironed out beforehand will save you (and your participants!) a lot of headaches, while also presenting you as a polished expert. Put these six key tips to use, and your international call is sure to go off without a hitch.
Want even more advice to knock your conference call out of the park? Check out our tips to lead an effective conference call.