How to Keep Your International Conference Call on Track
When it comes to international conference calling, your calls can easily run over your allotted time. Not only can individual speakers dominate the conversation or send the conversation off track, questions and answers sessions at the end of a global collaboration call can quickly gobble up valuable conference calling time.
While you certainly want to answer everyone’s questions, international conference calls that continue beyond the scheduled timeframe can quickly become more expensive than planned for. After all, you pay per participant, per minute.
In addition, participants may be reluctant to join future international conference calls based on fears that their time won’t be respected. Keeping your budget intact and your participants willing to join you in the future requires managing your international conference call to keep it on track.
Create a Global Collaboration Agenda
In order to stay on track, you will need a solid plan for the international conference call. The best approach is to create a global collaboration agenda and map out every topic you want to discuss. Your agenda could be as formal or informal as you need it to be.
For example, you may prefer to keep it simple by listing topics of discussions and assigning time limits to each one such as the following:
• Introductions / icebreakers – five minutes
• Discuss sales figures for quarter 1 − ten minutes
• Brainstorm ideas for increasing sales – ten minutes
• Training opportunities – five minutes
• Company news – five minutes
• Questions and answers – ten minutes
If you prefer more details, your global collaboration agenda could include the names of individual speakers, descriptions, and exact times such as the following:
8:00am – Introductions / icebreakers: Nancy introduces herself and asks each participant, one by one, to do the same.
8:05am – Discuss sales figures for quarter 1: Bob presents first quarter sales figures for the company as a whole. Recognizes Region 2 for top sales performance.
8:15am – Brainstorm ideas for increasing sales: Nancy guides the team through brainstorming session.
8:25am – Training opportunities: John from HR introduces new online learning portal and recommends the social media selling course for each regional manager.
8:30am – Company news: Nancy discusses pending acquisition, reassures team that it’s a beneficial move that brings more opportunities for personal growth.
8:35am – Questions and answers: Nancy and Bob to field questions.
8:45am – international conference call ends.
No matter how detailed you prefer to make your international conference calling agenda, the most important task is to identify the topics and allot sufficient time for each one.
Share Your Agenda with Participants
Agendas are valuable planning tools for international conference call moderators. However, they’re also useful for your call’s participants. If, in the example above, Nancy were to keep her agenda to herself, Bob and John might not realize that they’re expected to discuss first quarter sales results and training opportunities.
In fact, they’ll likely arrive unprepared because it’s impossible to read Nancy’s mind. Bob may need to excuse himself for a few minutes to find, download, and briefly analyze the latest sales figures. Meanwhile, John, who’s on the spot and unprepared, may discuss the wrong training program.
By sharing her agenda with Bob and John, Nancy is taking another proactive step to ensure that the global collaboration call moves efficiently from one topic to the next and that the exact topics she wants to address are discussed.
In addition to sharing the conference’s agenda with other speakers, consider sharing it with all participants in advance. This gives them a chance to prepare as well, and it shows them how their conference call time will be spent.
Use a Timer during the Conference Call
Use either a stopwatch or a timer during the conference call to ensure that each topic stays within its allotted time period. As the call’s moderator, you should take an active role in managing the call. For example, Nancy might prompt Bob that he has two minutes left to wrap up his presentation by saying, “Bob, this is fascinating.
You have about two minutes left. Would you mind telling us which region had the most sales this quarter and how other regions might emulate their success?”
Allow for Questions and Answers
Scheduling time for questions and answers at the end of an international conference call provides participants with the opportunity to ask questions. It also allows you to revisit topics that may not have had enough time to explore thoroughly earlier.
Make sure to schedule a Q&A session into each international conference call. Doing so gives you a little extra padding should your call run longer than expected. At the same time, if there are no questions, or if the Q&A session ends early, you can release participants from the call a few minutes early. No one appreciates a meeting that runs long, but most everyone appreciates getting out early.