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.