Running an online meeting is a task in itself, but it’s made even more difficult when you have international distance to consider. Time zones, different cultural norms and expectations, and more, can make international calls a bit more difficult than domestic ones, but we’re here to help. In this guide, we’ll cover six tips for running online meetings with international calling.
Not all conference services offer international conference calling, but it’s always good to have that option in case you expand overseas. That way, you’re covering the cost of calling outside your home country, and your potential clients or remote team members aren’t stuck with it.
1. Provide Link/Dial-In Number
When you schedule a call with most conferencing services, it’ll send an email to all of the callers with a dial-in number and a web link they can follow to attend the meeting. If your conference service doesn’t do this, it’s up to you to provide accurate information so everyone can join the meeting. When you host a call, there should be an invite button somewhere in the interface, which will give you that information. Also, when you schedule a future call, most conferencing services will provide this information once the meeting is scheduled.
You don’t want any confusion on how callers are supposed to join. This only serves to disrupt the meeting, and can potentially cause a serious drop in productivity. Accurate information is key, so double-check your links and dial-in numbers, and make sure everyone knows what they are.
2. Be Respectful
Being respectful is a huge part of just being a decent person, but it’s especially important when you’re trying to host a productive meeting. You need to be respectful of everyone else’s time, cultural differences, and voice. That means using your mute button when you’re not talking! If it’s not your turn to speak, please mute your microphone so everyone doesn’t have to hear your pen tapping on the desk, chip wrapper crinkling, or dog barking. It’s just good manners, and respectful to the people on the call who are speaking.
This also means giving everyone a fair chance to be heard. As the host, you can limit the time everyone gets to speak by setting an agenda (which we’ll talk about later), and using the mute button as needed.
3. Be Punctual
When you’re late to a meeting, people feel like you don’t respect their time, or simply don’t respect the fact that they’re waiting on you. You usually end up disrupting a meeting when you join late, and, if you’re the host, everyone is stuck in a virtual lobby until you start the meeting. The bottom line? Don’t be late.
4. Keep Time Zones In Mind
When you’re dealing with international calling, you’ll have to keep time zones in mind. Here in the US, we have several time zones that make up a slight time difference, depending on where you are (here’s more information on the time zones). We have four time zones, which are easter standard, mountain time, pacific time, and central time. Technically, Alaska and Hawaii also have their own time zones.
The point is that not everyone operates in the same time zone, and, therefore, scheduling meetings can be difficult. Keep in mind that time zones can mean hosting meetings at strange hours, so be ready for that possibility.
5. Use Video Meetings
Whether you’re meeting a new client or simply meeting with a remote team member, using a video conference instead of an audio-only call can bring you closer together. It feels more human when you can look at someone’s face and read their body language. If you’ve never met someone, just hearing their voice only tells you so much about them.
Plus, using a video meeting can help increase your call’s security, since you can be certain who you’re talking to when you see their face (unless they’ve got a nefarious twin lurking around).
You can’t talk about hosting better meetings and not mention agendas. Why? For the same reason you wouldn’t go on a road trip without a GPS or a map; you’ll never get to your destination otherwise. A good agenda can help keep a call on track and bring it back when it starts to swerve. It will also help everyone better understand the goals of the call, and also provides the time, date, and other information related to the call in one easy place.
Don’t host meetings without at least a minor agenda with some bullet points on what you want to talk about. You’ll notice meetings are far more productive when they’re following an agenda.
International calling isn’t that different from domestic, except for time zones and cultural differences. Make sure you’re being respectful and considering everyone’s time zone when scheduling, and don’t waste anyone’s time by being late or not using an agenda. Well-planned meetings make for well-executed meetings.