How to Create an Effective International Conference Call Agenda
The most effective international conference calls result in attendees having a clear understanding of the topic they’ve just discussed and what they are expected to do next. This doesn’t usually happen by accident. It’s typically planned and detailed on the conference call agenda.
You probably know how to create a meeting agenda. The process is the same for conference calls. However, let’s dig a little deeper.
Who’s On the Call?
With an international conference call, everyone joins remotely from around the world. Since the meeting is audio based, participants have no sense of how large or small the group is let alone who else is participating or which countries they are in. Including a list of attendees, or for larger calls, countries, on the agenda itself is helpful in this regard. Likewise, you may want to include a brief introduction as your first agenda item.
Understanding the Different Types of Agenda Items
As you’re planning your agenda items, it’s helpful to understand their type (informational, advisory, problem solving, or a request for feedback/help). Each type has its own unique purpose and expectations.
- Informational agenda items — An informational agenda item doesn’t require any back and forth between participants. These items have already been decided and are being relayed strictly as information. Informational agenda items don’t generally require a lot of time. If necessary, you can include written handouts after the conference call. For example, if you’re announcing a new companywide policy, you can briefly discuss the new policy and then send a PDF detailing it to your attendees after the call.
- Advisory agenda items — In this case, you haven’t yet made a decision on a given item and would like input from attendees. There’s no need for a formal vote or to come to a decision during this discussion. Rather, you’re gathering information in order to make a decision later. Since you’ll likely encounter varying opinions and have a lot of back and forth as attendees share their thoughts, these agenda items tend to require some time allotted to them. It’s important for attendees to understand that the decision is the presenter’s to make.
- Problem-solving agenda items — Oftentimes, problems need to be solved and group decisions are needed. In these cases, the agenda item falls under the problem-solving umbrella. These agenda items are often the most complex and time-consuming as the group learns about the issues, works out any differences of opinion, and ultimately comes to a decision during the meeting. The moderator must work to ensure everyone’s concerns have been heard and addressed and that most everyone is comfortable with the decision. With an international audience, there could be additional considerations and cultural differences, so allow extra time to ensure that you understand the global perspective.
- Request for help agenda items — Some groups have a standing agenda item called “request for help” where participants can ask for assistance. These are short, brief requests alerting others to contact that person to get more details and assist. For example, if a team member in Brazil requests
helpon translation marketing materials from English to Portuguese, this isn’t the time for everyone to chime in with their favorite translation service providers or ask which materials are in question. It’s a time for those who can help to take note of the request and plan on getting in touch afterward to assist.
As you build your conference call agenda, classify your items using these four types. This will help you allocate sufficient time as well as set expectations. You might even want to label each agenda item as such so your attendees have a better understanding of their role in the discussion.
Creating Action Items on the Conference Call Agenda
During the conference call, decisions will be made and next steps identified. It’s helpful to take note of these directly on your existing agenda and then summarize them at the end of the call so that everyone is clear on the outcome of the call and the actions they need to take.
Understanding your agenda items can help you to set expectations, which, in turn, can lead to more productive international conference calls.