The more participants involved in an international teleconference, the more difficult the call becomes to manage. For example, if you have just three or four participants, the “announce participant” feature is extremely helpful.
However, that same feature becomes a distraction when dozens of participants are involved. Use the tips below to minimize distractions and boost the success of your next large international conference call.
1. Send relevant call details to all participants. The success of your international conference call begins before the call actually takes place. Use the invitation to set the stage for your call by including all relevant call details including:
- Time and date of the international conference call, ideally expressed in the participant’s local time.
- Call-in details including local access number and the conference call’s PIN. Remember, with an international conference call, standard toll free numbers don’t work internationally and many participants will be reluctant to dial an out-of-country phone number due to concerns about potential costs. Thus, it’s smart to use an international conference call provider that provides local access numbers and local toll free numbers to the countries involved in the call.
- Call details such as expected length of the call, general agenda items, and whether or not a recording of the call will be made available after the fact. This helps participants plan their days around the call as well as decide if their participation is warranted. You may also want to specify if participation in the international conference call is mandatory or optional.
- Encourage the use of any easy connect tools if available. For example, if you have a plan that includes the “Connect App,” encourage participants to download and use it. Users of this particular app can set it up so that the conference call calls them at the scheduled time. Not only can this particular tool help callers ensure that they don’t miss the teleconference, the call appears as an inbound call on the participant’s phone rather than an outbound one which could use up their mobile minutes. It can also reduce the cost of your international conference calls because it uses the conference calling plan’s low dial-out rates.
2. Turn off any “announce participant” feature. This includes voice announcements (i.e., Bob Smith has just joined the conference) and join and leave tones. For large global teleconferences, it is common for participants to come and go, but it’s not necessary for everyone on the call to be informed as they do so. Not only is it distracting to hear all of those tones, hearing a lot of people leaving the international conference call could send negative messages to those remaining on the call. As the moderator of the teleconference, you can still keep a pulse on the call’s participation by using an online live teleconference viewer.
3. If the call is lecture-based, mute all phone lines other than the speaker’s. With a small group, if a single participant forgets to mute his or her line, the resulting background noise can be extremely distracting. Now imagine that multiplied times many un-muted phone lines! As the call’s moderator, you can mute and un-mute individual lines as well as all of those other than the designated speaker’s using your online conference viewer tools.
4. Designate a co-moderator. Make sure to use an international conference call provider with operator assistance as well as designate a co-moderator on any conference call with a large number of participants. The operator can assist participants with any technical issues while your co-moderator can help with any other issues that may arise.
5. Start small. The more familiar you are with your international conference calling plan, the better able you will be to manage a larger call. With that in mind, don’t start with a huge conference call! Start with smaller international conference calls. This allows you to become more comfortable with the system and the nuances involved with communicating with a global audience.
Large international conference calls have their challenges. These challenges can be overcome by choosing the right global teleconference provider, careful planning, and practice. Make sure to start small, learn how to use the call’s tools, and take advantage of operator assistance. Once you’re ready for a larger call, designate a co-moderator and turn off announcements during the call.