Practice Makes Perfect: The More You Use International Conference Calls, the Better they Become

Not only can holding a dress rehearsal allow you to practice your presentation, it can alert you to technical issues that need to be corrected before the call.

Practice Makes Perfect with International Conference CallsAs with anything, the more you use international conference calls, the better you become at hosting them. After all, practice makes perfect.

When you first sign up for an international conference call service, your first few teleconferences may feel awkward. You might stumble around at first or forget to take advantage of the options available to you such as noisy line muting, or operator assistance.

However, as you continue to use your international conference calling plan, it’ll become more natural. You’ll discover new tricks, you’ll start to experience the benefits, and soon, you’ll realize that you can use global teleconference calls for all kinds of purposes beyond your original need.

While practice makes perfect, a little coaching can get you even better results, faster. With that in mind, use the following tips to get even more out of your international conference calling plan:

Hold a Dress Rehearsal Conference Call

Just as professional theatrical productions hold dress rehearsals, so too can you. Gather a few assistants and do a trial run of your international conference call a day or two the scheduled event. Have each assistant dial in from remote locations so that you are not in the same room. This simulates the environment and forces you to use your online dashboard tools to manage the call or see who’s currently connected.

Ask each assistant to take notes about the call while you practice your part. Don’t overly instruct them, just let them record their thoughts. These insights could range from audio levels and sound quality to comments about areas of the discussion that were unclear or could benefit from additional details.

Not only can holding a dress rehearsal allow you to practice your presentation, it can alert you to technical issues that need to be corrected before the call. In addition, you’ll become more familiar with the various tasks you’ll be responsible for as the moderator of the call.

Take a Team Approach

Holding an international conference call requires work on your part, but it’s not necessarily work you have to do all by yourself. Enlist the help of an assistant before and during the call.

For example, if you will be presenting during the bulk of the conference call, having an assistant on hand is important should any of your callers have difficulty connecting to the global teleconference or hearing you. Instead of having to stop your presentation in order to help the caller, you can continue presenting while your assistant helps the caller. Many international conference calling service providers include free operator assistance, making your job even easier.

Create a Lessons Learned Document

After each international conference call, take some time to reflect on it – and write down your thoughts in a lessons learned document. This can help you to improve your next international conference call by anticipating and preventing similar problems from occurring.

Consider your lessons learned document a living, evolving document and visit it often. Don’t just write your lessons learned and ignore them. Re-read them before each conference call and add to them afterwards.

After about five international conference calls, revisit your lessons learned document and summarize the key points. Post these prominently on your desk before your next conference call as a reminder.

Remember, your lessons learned will be different than anyone else’s. It doesn’t matter what they are; the important thing is to be aware of them and keep improving. For example, if you’ve determined that you are hard to understand because you talk too fast, one of your lessons learned may be summarized as “speak slowly.” Awareness plus a concentrated effort to talk more slowly will invariably lead to better conference calls in the future.

Listen to an International Conference Call Recording

Record your teleconferences and then go back and listen to them. Hearing yourself speak is a great exercise, and you may be surprised at how well you did. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you stumbled on a few words or forgot to mention a key point. Give yourself constructive criticism, just as you would give to a colleague, and choose one or two points to work on improving for next time.

Use End-of-Call Surveys

Use surveys after each international conference call to get feedback from participants.  Participants will have a different perspective and may have valuable insights that wouldn’t occur to you otherwise. There are a variety of third party survey tools you could use to get instant feedback after the call.

Because feedback is so important, make it easy for participants to provide it. Online surveys are generally easier than surveys that must be printed out, filled out, scanned, and emailed. Keep your surveys short, too, and let participants know about how long it will take to complete your survey.

Keep Hosting International Conference Calls

The more you hold them, the easier they become. Practice really does make perfect!

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Dealing with Language Barriers During an International Conference Call

If you intend to hold two or more versions of the international conference call in different languages, make sure to include the details for those calls in the invitation.

Dealing with Language Barriers During an International Conference CallIt’s common for language barriers to arise during an international conference call. The nature of a global teleconference virtually guarantees that participants come from different backgrounds and speak different languages.

While it’s impossible to completely erase language barriers amongst a geographically diverse audience, you can do your part to be an effective communicator. Below are a few tips to help overcome potential language problems.

  • Include language details in your international conference call’s invitation. By stating clearly in the invitation which language will be spoken, your audience will be better able to decide if attending the international conference call makes sense. If you intend to hold two or more versions of the call in different languages, make sure to include the details for those calls in the invitation. For example, you could say something like, “This call will be conducted in English. A Portuguese version will take place on (date/time) followed by a Spanish conference call on (date/time).”
  • Request that we give you voice prompts in another language.  Currently, we offer multi language system prompts in the following languages:  French/English dual prompt, English/German dual prompts, Spanish/Portuguese dual prompts, English/Japanese dual prompts, Mandarin Chinese/English bi-lingual dual prompt.  Visit our Expanded Global Conferencing service here.
  • Speak slowly. Non-native speakers will appreciate the slower pace which helps them to process what’s been said.
  • Avoid slang, cliches, and colloquialisms. They simply do not translate well. In fact, they probably won’t make sense whatsoever. For example, if you intend to start a project right away, saying “let’s get this ball rolling” could confuse non-native speakers and have them wondering what a ball has to do with anything. Instead, be clear and say “I want to start this project immediately.”
  • Send out a detailed agenda. The more you can fill in the blanks in advance, the better. By having a detailed agenda in place, each participant can quickly determine the general topic of discussion which provides extra context to the conversation.
  • Consider using an interpreter. Interpreters may be necessary in some situations. Due to the nature of an international conference call, you can use a “virtual” interpreter located in any country. Just as regular participants dial into the teleconference from their phones, the same is true of an interpreter.
  • Consider allowing personal interpreters. Some participants may want to use their own personal interpreters or even a trusted family member to help them understand what has just been said. If the content of the call is not proprietary or confidential, this can be helpful to individuals. If you’re concerned about confidentiality, it may be necessary to require a non-disclosure agreement. If personal interpreters will be used by participants, make sure to instruct those individuals how to mute their lines so the interpretation remains private.
  • Record the international conference call and make the recording available to participants after the fact. Some participants may appreciate being able to go back and listen to the teleconference afterwards to ensure that they didn’t miss anything.
  • Have the recording transcribed. Sending a transcription of the international conference call is another way to help non-native speakers get more out of the call. In addition to sending a word-for-word transcription, or as an alternative, you could also send a synopsis that summarizes the key points.
  • Have the recording or transcription translated. Another option is to translate the recording or transcription. For example, if the primary languages of participants are English and Portuguese, you could conduct the call in English, record it, and then have it translated into Portuguese.
  • Encourage questions. Another option is to recognize potential language barriers from the beginning and encourage participants to “raise their hands” or interrupt you if something doesn’t quite make sense. By alerting you to sections that don’t make sense, you have the opportunity to rephrase your statements or clarify. This can also help you improve your presentation as you learn more about what trips up your audience. For example, you may realize that you use cliches far too often. With this realization, you can then pay more attention to your own speak patterns and habits.
  • Issue a post-teleconference survey. Have participants fill out an anonymous survey after the global teleconference. This can alert you to communications issues that participants may have been hesitant to raise during the call. One of the questions you might include on the survey is this: Describe anything that you feel was unclear during the call? From there, use this feedback to write up a short letter clarifying any key points that may have been misunderstood.

International conference calls bring with them the potential for communications problems due to language differences.

It’s not easy, but it is possible to communicate despite language barriers.

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11 Reasons to use International Conference Calls

You can even record the international conference call to refer to later or for training purposes.

Reasons to use International Conference CallsInternational conference calling is a fast, cost-efficient, and easy-to-use method of communicating with a group of people from around the world.

Commonly used to conduct business, an international conference call can be used for any number of purposes and from virtually any phone in the world. How will you use your next teleconference? Below are a few ideas to get you started.

1. Sales

Need to build relationships with clients from around the world? An international conference call is a great way to stay in touch with new, prospective, and existing clients. Whether you want to introduce the client to a local account representative or the company’s CEO, a group phone call is a good choice for introducing various representatives to clients and helping clients get their questions answered. You can also use a global teleconference to introduce a new product or service.

2. Negotiations

Preliminary negotiations can be handled over the phone using an international conference call. Once connected, all parties can state their objectives, discuss the contract’s finer points, ask questions, and present counteroffers. You can even record the international conference call to refer to later or for training purposes.

3. Investigations

Need to gather information from witnesses located around the world. Depending on the nature of the investigation, you may be able to do much of the groundwork over the phone using a global conference call.

4. Recruiting

Recruiting talent from around the globe can quickly become cost prohibitive, especially if you must fly candidates in from other countries for job interviews. Using international conference calls in the early, prescreening process can drastically cut your costs while simultaneously allowing human resources and regional managers the opportunity to speak with job candidates in a group phone call. Again, the international conference call can be recorded for later reference or for sharing with others involved in the final hiring decision. As you narrow the field of candidates down, you can conduct secondary interviews using a international conference call and then fly in only your top choices.

5. Team building

Managing a geographically diverse team is challenging as each team member may feel isolated from the group. Holding frequent international conference calls with the entire team provides a greater sense of community and it allows everyone the opportunity to get to know each other. Being able to speak with one another, brainstorm, solve problems, share ideas,  and even talk about the weather can improve morale as well as accomplish other goals you have set for the conference call.

6. Training

From customer service and sales to sexual harassment prevention and time management training, many types of training courses can be effectively delivered using audio only. With an international conference call, the trainer can deliver the training to trainees located around the world in real-time. Not only that, you can record the conference call and use the MP3 file for future trainees. With a recorded international conference call, you can also ensure that all trainees, both current and future ones, receive the exact same instruction.

7. Family celebrations and reunions

Global teleconferences aren’t just for business. In fact, if you have family members located around the world, you can use an international conference call to bring the entire family together to share news or plan the next family reunion.

8. Event planning

Whether you need to coordinate a corporate retreat, charity fundraiser, or small wedding, if various partners are located outside of your country, holding an international conference call is an excellent option. By using a low-cost international conference calling service, each partner can dial into the teleconference and participate in the planning. Make sure everyone is on the same page by using group conference calls to plan the event.

9. Coaching

Many consultants and coaches use international conference calls to share their messages with a global audience. A global teleconference can be conducted in real-time, allowing participants to call in, listen to the lecture, and then ask questions. In addition, the teleconference can be recorded and sold as an informational coaching product or distributed as a free gift.

10. Tutoring

Many tutors conduct “virtual” tutoring sessions using teleconferences. This can be particularly helpful to international students who need extra help in a country where live tutors are scarce. You could use an international conference call for one-on-one or group tutoring.

11. Expert witnesses

Many lawyers use international conference calls to interview expert witnesses located around the world. With a global conference call, the lawyer, a court reporter, a paralegal, and the expert witness can all be located in different countries, yet the conversation can efficiently take place. You can use an international conference call to gather information, conduct a disposition, or get a better sense of how the expert witness responds under pressure.

These are but a few of the many different ways you can use an international conference call to connect with other people from around the world. How will you use your next global teleconference?

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13 Ways to Improve Communications During an International Conference Call

If you’re the moderator of the international conference call, you can help your participants by referring to other speakers by name.

13 Ways to Improve Communications During an International Conference CallHolding an international conference call with a diverse group of people from around the globe can be a communications challenge. After all, you’ve got multiple time zones and multiple people who may or may not speak the same language.

Once you’ve overcome the logistics of scheduling the international conference call, one of the biggest challenges involves communicating your message in a clear, concise, and engaging manner. Use the tips below to improve your communications during a global teleconference.

1. Always go for exceptional sound quality. When it comes to using a international conference calling service, you have a myriad of options including free conference calling, VoIP conference calling, and traditional teleconferencing services. While price is certainly a consideration, sound quality is of utmost important. All participants, regardless of their location, should be able to hear one another without having to suffer through sound delays, static, echoes, and dropouts. The better the sound quality, the better able your participants will be to hear and understand your message.

2. Always identify yourself before speaking, and encourage all participants to do the same. By stating your name, company, and title before you speak, you give participants an important frame of reference. If you’re the moderator of the international conference call, you can help your participants by referring to other speakers by name.

3. Conduct your international conference call from a quiet location. Remember, you can call from virtually anywhere. So, if your office is particularly loud due to a construction project taking place next door, consider calling in from a quieter setting such as your home office or a soundproof conference room.

4. Use your international conference calling plan’s moderation features. Most international conference calling plans have features for muting and unmuting individual phone lines as well as for turning off chimes used to announce new participants.

5. Never put your phone on hold during a conference call. This applies to moderators and participants alike. Doing so often triggers your company’s music on hold system which then takes over the call. Not only is the music distracting, it will prevent others from conversing. If you must step away, use the mute feature to mute your phone line.

6. Turn off potentially noisy interruptions. This includes your cell phone’s ringer, your computer’s email notification chime, pager, and interoffice intercom. In general, anything that beeps, rings, chirps, or makes unexpected noises should be turned off during the international conference call.

7. Start the international conference call with a brief summary of what the call will be about. This can be as simple as saying something along the lines of, “We’ll spend the first 20 minutes discussing A, B, and C and then we’ll open up the call for 15 minutes of questions and answers.” This lets everyone know what’s coming up and what to expect.

8. Speak slowly and clearly, using plain language. With international participants, the language used to communicate during the call may not be their first language. This is not the time to rush through your comments or use slang words that are likely to cause confusion.

9. Paraphrase the comments of others. For example, during a question and answer session, after someone asks a question, paraphrase the question before giving the answer. This helps to ensure that everyone hears and understand the question, even if the person who asked it had a heavy accent or soft voice. Paraphrasing also helps to clarify that you’ve interrupted the question correctly before moving on to the answer.

10. Proactively manage the conversation. It’s not unusual for discussions to wander off track. If a discussion becomes irrelevant to the purpose of the international conference call, table the matter for another time and direct the conversation back to the scheduled topic. Not only does your active moderation keep the conversation focused, it can prevent an international conference call from going over its allotted time limit.

11. Engage all participants. Some participants will naturally be more vocal than others. Some will prefer to sit back and listen. However, their voices should be heard, too. Use your moderator’s dashboard to keep an eye on who’s on the call, who’s speaking, and who has not had a chance to contribute. From there, actively engage those who have been quiet. For example, you could say, “Barbara Jones, we haven’t heard from you yet. What do you think?” This isn’t to put her on the spot, but rather to give everyone the opportunity to contribute to the conversation. This can also prevent naturally talkative participants from becoming overly involved in the call.

12. Do a quick recap. At the end of the call, do a quick recap, summarizing what was discussed along with the next steps.

13. Consider sending an MP3 recording of the international conference call to all participants after the fact so that they can review the call as needed. You could also have the recording transcribed and then send a PDF transcript to participants.

Focusing on sound quality, speaker identification, clear speaking, active listening and paraphrasing, conversation management, and engagement can lead to more communicative international conference calls.

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Improve the Efficiency of Your Next International Conference Call

In addition, many decisions will be made. Make sure someone is responsible for taking notes so that these items are not neglected on your global conference call.

Improve the Efficiency of Your Next International Conference CallHosting an international conference call requires coordinating the schedules of multiple participants from around the world.

Just as you likely have a busy schedule, the same is true of your global teleconference participants. By running the most efficient conference call possible, you can accomplish the call’s mission while respecting everyone’s time.

This, in turn, lays the groundwork for the participation of future international conference calls.

Use the tips below to improve the efficiency of your next international conference call.

1. Define the call’s mission. Have you ever attended a teleconference that rambled on with no clear agenda? The conference call probably did not have a clearly defined mission. Thus, the moderator “winged it” and efficiency suffered as a result. Before you schedule your next international conference call, make sure you know exactly what you want to accomplish. Write down the call’s mission in one or two sentences.

2. Define who needs to attend the international conference call. Have you ever attended a teleconference that had little relevance to your job role?

If so, your presence may not have been essential and you likely felt as though the conference call was a waste of your time.

Think about your call’s mission before you start inviting participants. Who is critical to the mission? Who needs to attend the call? Is it necessary for all participants to attend the entire call? Is it possible to excuse some of the participants after the main portion of the call is over? Would it be better to allow some participants to listen to a recording of the call after the fact at their leisure?

3. Plan your call’s talking points. Whether you work off of a formal agenda or a rough outline, you should know exactly what topics should be discussed as well as for how long.

As you finalize your call’s agenda, make sure to share it with key participants – especially those who have been assigned to speak about a given topic. Let speakers know how much time you’ve allotted for their presentation along with any other pertinent details so that they can arrive well prepared.

4. Schedule the call and share the call’s details in local time. With an international conference call, participants will appreciate receiving the call’s details in their own local times.

By telling them exactly what time to call in local time, you can avoid missed calls and unnecessary confusion.

5. Provide international participants with a local access number. Use an international conference calling service that offers toll free or local access numbers that are local to the countries that your participants are in.

This ensures that each caller can dial a local phone number in order to participate in the teleconference. It can also eliminate confusion and concerns about international dialing.

6. Distribute any pre-call handouts you may have. If you would like participants to be able to refer to sales report, product literature, or other materials during the teleconference, distribute those items in advance so that participants can have them available during the call. You could also distribute the call’s agenda with links to these items.

7. Actively moderate the call. An international conference call can quickly get off track if it is not actively moderated. Use your agenda and a stopwatch to ensure that no single topic exceeds its time limit.

If a topic runs shorter than expected, keep track of how much “bonus” time is available. At the end of the teleconference, you could then use that bonus time to address topics that need more feedback.

8. Assign someone take notes. During the international conference call, many questions will come up that need to be researched before they can be answered.

In addition, many decisions will be made. Make sure someone is responsible for taking notes so that these items are not neglected.

9. Recap the discussion and what needs to happen next. At the end of the call, refer to the call’s notes and do a quick recap of the key points of the discussion.

Let everyone know what the next steps are and reiterate any specific action steps that were defined during the call. Thank everyone for their participation.

10. Send each participant a recording or transcript of the teleconference as well as a copy of the call’s notes and action steps. You may want to create a follow-up document based on the notes that details the decisions made and any specific action steps each participant is expected to take.

11. Finally, create a lessons learned document. Did you accomplish the call’s mission? What would you do differently? What worked? What didn’t work?

Use this time to critically evaluate the success of your international conference call so that you can avoid making the same mistakes and make your next call even better.

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Mind Your International Conference Call Manners

If you are the moderator of the call, you will have more features available to you; make sure to learn them before the international conference call and not during it.

Mind Your International Conference Call Manners When it comes to participating in an international conference call, it’s important to follow basic rules of phone and professional protocol.

After all, you want to come across as polite and professional, right? An international conference call brings with it a few additional challenges including some that are unique to the medium such as muting and unmuting the line as needed.

Use the tips below to mind your international conference call manners.

1. Learn how to use the international conference calling system in advance. In general, international conference calling involves using regular and mobile phones, a telephone number, and an access code or PIN.

You don’t need any fancy software or equipment. However, you should be familiar with how to mute and unmute your phone line so that you can block out any distracting noises from your environment while someone else is speaking. If you are the moderator of the call, you will have more features available to you; make sure to learn them before the international conference call and not during it.

2. Remember that you represent your entire organization. Whether you are hosting an international conference call or participating in one, you may be the only person representing your organization.

Your demeanor reflects the entire organization. Even if your role in the call is minor, how you present yourself is of utmost importance.

3. Use professional, clear language. One of the biggest problems associated with international conference calls involves language. After all, participants come from around the globe.

Not only should you use professional language and avoid profanity and slang, you should also try to be as clear as possible. Your international colleagues may not be familiar with expressions and colloquialisms common to your culture.

4. Avoid humor and controversial topics. Humor is hard enough to pull off with participants from within your own country, and even more so with an international crowd.

It is too easy for a seemingly harmless joke to turn offensive or insulting. Politics and religion are also extremely touchy subjects and should be avoided.

5. Be on time – if not early. Being on time shows other participants that you are prompt, reliable, and respectful of their time. Ideally, you should be dialed in, connected, and ready to begin several minutes before the official start time.

Go ahead and dial in five minutes before the conference begins and enjoy some light reading while you wait. This ensures that you’re on time and ready. In addition, you may have the opportunity to chat with other participants before the international conference call officially begins.

This is a great way to build rapport with other participants with whom you may not have the opportunity to speak with one-on-one.

Another reason to be on time is that you don’t want to miss anything. If you’re a participant, the international conference call will start with or without you and you’ll miss out.

On the other hand, of you’re the call’s moderator and you’re not on time, your participants are likely to be upset and unlikely to hang around for more than a minute or two for you to arrive. They may not give you another chance to coordinate a global teleconference. Even worse, they may question your ability to meet deadlines or serve their needs.

6. Be prepared. If you’re the moderator of the international conference call, then you should have an agenda prepared and you should be prepared to keep the call on track. As a participant, you should know what your role is in the call and prepare accordingly. For example, if you’ve been asked to share feedback about a certain process or product, you should gather information well in advance of the call and outline the key points that you’d like to discuss.

7. Use mute and unmute. Teleconferences have multiple participants, each calling in from their own potentially noisy environments.

When you’re not speaking, make sure to mute your line. That way, any background noise will not interfere with the international conference call. When you need to contribute to the conversation, simply unmute your line and speak freely.

8. Pay attention to the clock. If you are the teleconference moderator, it’s up to you to manage the clock and moderate the discussion as needed to ensure that the teleconference stays within its scheduled time allotment.

If you are a participant who has been allocated a certain amount of time to speak, you’ll also want to be mindful of the clock. For example, if you’ve been allotted 5 minutes and you’ve already spoken for 10 minutes, you may need to wrap up your presentation or ask the moderator if it’s okay to speak a little longer.

Moderating or participating in an international conference call requires advanced preparation

Hosting or attending an international conference call needs some advanced thought, professionalism, and attention to detail. Be prepared, polite, and mindful of others and your next international conference call is sure to be a success.

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International Call Forwarding for Non-Profits

Using call divert, calls can be routed virtually anywhere the organization needs them to ring at any given time. For example, if a small non-profit organization usually operates in the United States, it could have its international forwarding number ring to its main office in the United States most of the time.