However, coordinating international conference calls requires a great deal of work. Delegating some of this work can free up some of your time as well as improve participation. Use the tips below to improve your global team teleconferences.
1. Identify what tasks need to be done. Though task lists vary, some tasks are fairly common to all conference calls such as creating an agenda, scheduling the call, inviting participant’s and distributing the call’s details, recording the call and later sharing the recorded file, and keeping track of time and agenda items during the call.
Once you’ve identified each task, figure out which tasks can be automated, which ones you absolutely must handle yourself, and which tasks could be assigned to someone else.
2. Ask for volunteers. A few weeks before your next international conference call, ask for volunteers to help you coordinate it. Briefly explain what you need help with and what’s involved. For example, if you need a time keeper, explain that the time keeper will use a stopwatch to time each agenda item and will provide notice when the speaker has three minutes left to wrap up the discussion.
3. Assign a different “host” team each month. An alternative to asking for volunteers is to rotate responsibilities amongst different “host” teams each month. For example, you could put your Italian team in charge of scheduling and coordinating your team conference call in January and then have your Brazilian team do the same the following month.
By rotating responsibilities, each team could bring its own unique talents to the call and experience the various challenges involved in scheduling global teleconferences. With each team experiencing some of these challenges firsthand, you may find that teams become more accommodating and more invested in making the teleconference a success.
4. Ask for feedback. Efficient global teleconferences don’t happen by accident. They’re the result of careful planning and continuous improvement. Ask your delegates what they thought of the planning process. Ask them what they might do differently and why.
Planning an international conference call does not need to be a one-person job. Determine which tasks you can delegate to others and then seek help from your team. Doing so provides others with the opportunity to contribute to your team-building efforts and can improve participation.
It may also improve their own team communications and collaboration skills. Your team members may suggest some creative ideas that you can incorporate into your future calls as well.
Managing Time During an International Conference Call
Meetings, whether they take place in person or are held remotely, are notorious amongst participants for taking up too much time. Whether you’ve rented a conference room or are holding an international conference call, each participant likely has time constraints.
With an international conference call, each minute of your meeting impacts the meeting’s total cost as well. Plus, many participants will be calling in outside of their normal work hours, making the call an infringement on their own personal time.
Managing an international conference call’s time is respectful of your participants’ time as well as economically smart. Use the tips below to keep your next international conference call on track.
- Hold shorter, more focused conference calls more frequently rather than “catch-all” conference calls at longer intervals. A tightly focused conference call often requires fewer participants and will have fewer agenda items. Thus, the meeting will be more relevant to those who attend, and it will take much less time than a more generalized international conference call. In addition, participants will appreciate short international conference calls that only take a few minutes each time instead of long, involved calls that require several hours of their time.
- Limit the number of participants. The more participants on any given international conference call, the more difficult it becomes to manage both conversations and time. Consider inviting just a handful of leaders to each international conference call and then distributing a MP3 recording of the call to others who need to know the information that was presented.
- Create a timed agenda. Holding short, tightly focused international conference calls requires staying on track. A timed agenda is a great way to ensure that your call doesn’t last longer than scheduled. If you’ve allotted 15 minutes to the call, then your agenda needs to reflect that. Write down each agenda item and assign a realistic time limit to each one. During the call, keep track of the time as you move through the agenda.
- Share your agenda in advance. Each participant should know what to expect before the conference call so that they too can prepare. Email each participant a copy of the agenda and let everyone know what’s expected of them. For example, if you need input about a recent change, let them know that’s what you’re looking for so that they can gather their thoughts and ask their teams if they have any suggestions or feedback.
- Start and end your international conference call on time. If you have a 15-minute teleconference scheduled and you wait five minutes for a latecomer to call in, your meeting just became a 20-minute meeting. Five minutes may not seem like much, but it is multiplied by the number of participants left waiting. Waiting for latecomers also sends a signal to those who were on time that the latecomers’ presence is valued more than theirs. Let the latecomers pay the consequence for their tardiness, not those who arrived on time. Again, you can record the call and let those who missed out catch up later.
- Become comfortable with your international conference call service before you use it. You may want to hold a few practice calls with a co-worker before holding your first live international conference call. This can help you avoid any time-consuming mistakes.
Because conference calls are usually billed per minute and per participant, managing time can also keep your meeting within its budget. Keeping your meeting focused, following a timed agenda, being selective about who you invite, recording the call, and starting and ending your meeting on time are but a few easy steps you can take to improve your next global conference call.