An international conference call is similar to a domestic one in that the conference takes place over the telephone.
However, with participants located around the globe, international conference calls tend to have a few more challenges. Here’s what you need to know before participating in your first global teleconference.
- What time is the international conference call in local time? Though most international conference call hosts clearly list the time of the call, it’s not always obvious when the call starts in your specific time zone.
- For international conference calls with a large number of participants, it’s impractical for the host to break down the call’s start time in each country. In this case, the host will likely express the call’s time using Greenwich Mean Time or Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). From there, it will be your responsibility to figure out the call’s actual start time in your time zone. Use an online time and date converter if needed.
- What language will be spoken? It’s easy to assume your native language will be spoken, but that’s not necessarily the case with international teleconferences. For example, what language might be used between a Japanese electronics company and its operators in Mexico, USA, and Brazil? With four possible languages, it’s important to find out for sure. If you do not speak the language, find out if there will be another call in your language or if a translation will be made available after the call. If you must participate in a call where language is a barrier, it may be smart to have a translator join you.
- What will your role be? Will you be expected to actively contribute to the conversation or is the call more informational in nature? If the call will take place at an inconvenient time, is not urgent, and you are not expected to actively contribute, it may be possible to listen to an MP3 recording of the international conference call after the fact.
- Who else will be participating in the call? Because of the international nature of a global teleconference, it’s also helpful to know which other countries will be involved so that you can be sensitive to any cultural differences.
- Prepare to be patient. It’s often difficult to communicate with people from other countries. Not only is there the issue of language, heavy accents can interfere even when everyone speaks the same language. With an audio call, you don’t have the benefit of visual cues, so listen carefully and patiently. When it’s your turn to speak, speak clearly and slowly and avoid using slang which can cause confusion.
- Ask for an MP3 recording or transcript of the call. Many international conference call hosts record their calls and distribute recordings afterward. Others will transcribe the call as well. If you had difficulty understanding portions of the call due to language barriers, a recording or transcript could be beneficial.
- As with any conference call, you’ll want to mute your phone line any time you are not speaking. This ensures that any background noise at your location does not interfere with the international conference call.