Conducting Your First International Group Audio Conference

With an international teleconference, it’s often difficult to schedule a time accommodates everyone due to time zone differences.

Holding a group audio conference is a fantastic way to communicate with a geographically diverse team or group.

Group International Audio ConferenceNot only are group conference calls less expensive than meeting in person, they are much more convenient for everyone involved. If participants are located around the globe, you’ll appreciate the savings and convenience. However, holding international conference calls is a little different than holding domestic ones. Here’s what you need to know to make your first international group audio conference a success.

1. Start with an international conference call service provider. Since you’ll have participants calling from around the world, each will need a convenient method of reaching the conference. As you know, each country has its own dialing conventions. You want each participant to feel comfortable dialing your group audio conference. Working with a service provider who specializes in group international conferencing gives you access to local and toll free numbers for each of the countries involved.

2. Take advantage of “dial out” rates for high cost countries. Rates vary by country with some countries being dramatically more expensive per minute than others. For those with high costs, use the service provider’s “dial out” service to dial participants in those countries directly. You will almost always get a substantially lower rate per minute when you do this. In addition, you can preprogram these numbers so that the system automatically dials participants at the appointed time.

3. Familiarize yourself with moderator controls before the call. Invariably, someone on the call will leave his or her microphone unmuted, subjecting the entire group to distracting background noise. Fortunately, you can mute callers. Make sure you know how before the call begins.

4. Have an agenda. A group conference call is a cost effective alternative to other types of conferences. However, you will still be paying on a per minute, per participant basis in most cases. In order to ensure an efficient meeting, map out an agenda in advance and stick to it. Not only will this help you stick to your budget, your participants will appreciate a well-organized group conference call that respects their time.

5. Record your group audio conference call. With an international teleconference, it’s often difficult to schedule a time accommodates everyone due to time zone differences. However, if you record your call, you can later distribute the recording to those who were unable to attend in person.

Holding a group audio conference is relatively easy to set up and execute — if you choose the right international conference call service. Look for a provider that supports the countries involved, offers the best audio quality, and offers user-friendly calling features such as MP3 recording and automated dial out.

aitelephone.com does all of the above and more. With low calling rates, toll free support for over 100 countries, 24/7 operator assistance, and no contract, term requirement, or monthly fees, your next group audio conference is sure to be a resounding success!

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Global Conference Call Checklist

Planning a global conference call? Whether you’re hosting international conference calls with over 100 participants or just a handful, planning your call is the key to success. Use this global conference call checklist to ensure that nothing is left to chance.

           Determine the goal of the global conference call. A successful conference call is a focused conference call. Long before you schedule the conference, you should know exactly what you want to achieve. This will drive everything from who you invite to what’s on the agenda.

           Choose a reliable, high quality global conference call service provider. Next, you’ll need a means of conducting the teleconference. While you may have a conference room and a reasonably equipped phone system, global conference calls are tricky to pull off without a dedicated service. For starters, your phone system may be able to handle just a few callers at once.  Hence, many international companies choose to ‘outsource’ their global conferencing needs to a third party service that specializes in overseas conference calls.

In addition, international calling costs could deter some participants from calling in. With a global conference call service provider, participants can dial local or toll free phone numbers to reach the conference room. Make sure to choose a global conference call provider that offers the highest quality connections such as PSTN network connections rather than VoIP.

           Get familiar with the conference calling tools available to you. As the moderator of the call, you will be responsible for the behind-the-scenes technical details. For example, you may notice that there’s a lot of background noise coming from one participant’s phone line during the call. By familiarizing yourself with the tools in advance, you’ll know how to mute that caller’s line with minimal disruption to the conference.

           Create your participant list. Create a detailed list of the global conference call’s participants. Include name, position/department, phone number, and country. Evaluate this list against your goal for the call to make sure that you are inviting the right people.

           Evaluate possible times for your global conference call. Again, look at your list of participants. Which countries are involved? Which time zones have the most participants? Which times would be convenient for the majority of the group?

           Decide whether to provide local or toll free access. The goal of your call as well as its audience will play a role in whether to provide toll free access. For example, if the call is a sales presentation to international customers and prospects, then toll free access is a must.

On the other hand, if participants are from your branch offices, a local number may be just fine. Your global conference call service provider will provide you with the appropriate access numbers for participants around the globe. Make sure to choose a service provider that supports the countries involved.

           Decide whether you want to record the call. Most conference calling services include a way to record the overseas conference call. You can record the call for your own purposes or make the recording available to others after the fact. For example, if the conference call is a training call, future trainees can listen to the original call in the future.

           Identify participants who live in countries with the highest calling rates. Rates vary from country to country, with some countries being dramatically more expensive than others. If you have some participants in these high-cost countries, consider dialing them directly using the global conference call service’s dial out feature which usually has much lower costs. You may even be able to preprogram numbers and dial times.

           Create an agenda for the global conference call. Next, review your goals for the call and create a timed agenda. If others will be presenting, communicate with them and let them know how much time they’ve been allotted and the topic you’d like them to address.

           Recruit a co-moderator. It’s helpful to have a co-moderator during the global conference call. Your co-moderator can take notes, keep track of time, and help participants who may be having technical difficulties.

           Invite attendees. Next, it’s time to invite your participants. Your invitation should include all of the pertinent details such as the time and date of the call (expressed in local time), access numbers and PIN codes, goal of the call, agenda, and who to contact should they have any trouble (your co-moderator or the global conference call service provider’s 24/7 operator).

           Conduct the call. Finally, it’s time to conduct the global conference call. Having already done all of the above, you should be well prepared and ready for a successful teleconference.

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Managing a Large International Conference Call

The operator can assist participants with any technical issues while your co-moderator can help with any other issues that may arise.

Managing a Large International Conference CallThe 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.

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