11 Best Practices for International Audio Conference Calls (2018)

International conference calling is a modern technological wonder, allowing people separated by oceans and continents to share ideas and information and come to agreements. Unfortunately, many conference calls resemble old Laurel and Hardy skits, with participants struggling to figure out who’s talking and what’s happening. Technology mishaps, communications mix-ups, and other issues can all derail an international conference call, even those with the latest audio conference systems.

International Audio Call System

For companies and organizations with a global reach, this simply isn’t acceptable. The demands of an interconnected world require multinational organizations to foster and encourage collaboration and communication among their various units, no matter where they may be. Utilizing the opportunities offered by international conference calling isn’t a luxury; it’s a necessity.

Following a few best practices for international audio conference system will help your organization get the most from this invaluable tool.

  • Know your time zones – Setting up a conference call at 8 a.m. may be convenient for your office, but what about the folks in Singapore? This one really ought to be a no-brainer. If you want a conference call that’s productive and which participants will view as an opportunity rather than a burden, you need to set it up for a time that’s convenient for all parties. This can be difficult, but it’s worth the effort to have engaged participants on the call.
  • Be aware of cultural differences – If all the parties on the call don’t know each other well, cultural differences could create some misunderstandings and even cause offense. Encourage participants to keep humor and slang to a minimum and to be mindful of cultural tender spots to ensure the meeting goes smoothly

International City

  • Have participants identify themselves – One of the most frustrating things about conference calls is that it can sometimes be a challenge to identify all of the participants. Have participant introduce himself or herself and have the participants say a few things about themselves or their work so the other participants will be able to identify them by voice. Making notes of who is speaking is also helpful and should be encouraged among participants.
  • Know the tech – The person leading the conference call should understand the technology involved with the call and how to use various interfaces. Even on operator assisted calls, knowing how to dial in and about various features offered by the teleconferencing service can help the person in charge of the call keep it organized. Technological issues have derailed many a conference call, so it’s important to find a reliable audio conference system provider and to familiarize yourself and others with the technology for best results.

International Conference System Technology

  • Reduce unnecessary noise – It’s tough enough understanding what people may be saying in another language over the phone; if you have to do it with office chatter or construction work in the background, it’s nearly impossible. Encourage participants on international conference calls to be mindful of their surroundings. Participants should participate in the call from a quiet room free of excessive noise. Loud machinery, problematic acoustics, or noisy heating and cooling systems should be avoided.

    Participants in a call should also be mindful of where they are in relation to a handset or speakerphone. Participants need to be close enough to a microphone that their voices are clearly carried by the telecommunications equipment being used.

  • Minimize language barriers – Participants in international conference calls may speak different languages. Facilitators of these calls need to take steps to minimize confusion and frustration that language barriers can cause. Having translators on hand can help, as can technological solutions. Smartphone apps can help with some translation, but, for deep and meaningful conversations or conversations regarding highly technical subjects, the aid of a skilled translator cannot be substituted.

International Language Conferencing

  • Slow it down – Even if participants are multilingual or have a translator, rapid-fire speech can derail a teleconference. Urge participants to speak clearly and slowly. This is especially important for Americans, who tend to speak more quickly than other nationalities. Encourage participants on the call to pause from time to time to ensure that all participants are following along.
  • Encourage participation – If attendees aren’t actively engaged in the teleconference, you’ve wasted a lot of time and money for little return. Facilitators of international teleconferences should be adept at “reading the room”—that is, determining if participants are engaged and contributing to the conversation. That’s tough if you can’t see the other participants, but it can be done.

    Listen to the conversation and determine whether everyone is contributing. If some participants aren’t, draw them back into the conversation with a well-placed question. Don’t play “gotcha,” but do keep participants focused.

Audio Conference Assistant

  • Record the call – If all the participants are willing, recording a conference call or having a transcript of the call made can be of great value. A recording or transcript can help participants recall important parts of the call. It can also help clarify the “who said what” problem that conference calls often have. Recordings and transcripts are also helpful for interested parties who were unable to participate in the call.

    If you do choose to record the call, notifying all the parties of your intention and obtaining their consent is important, as both a matter of professional courtesy and legality. Some jurisdictions make it illegal to record a call without the knowledge and consent of the parties involved.

  • Encourage punctuality – Dialing in late to a conference call just isn’t acceptable. The other participants on the call have set aside time in their busy schedules for the call, which, depending on their time zones, may be happening at the very start of their work day or its end. Punctual attendance of teleconferences is an important courtesy to provide to the other participants; be sure your people understand its importance.
  • Keep it moving – It’s tough enough to keep people focused on in-person meetings; the challenge can be even greater with teleconferences. Even the most diligent, well-meaning teleconference attendees will lose focus and become distracted if the meeting drags on for too long. Keep meetings short and concise and focused on the agenda. Smaller items can be discussed later via one-on-one calls.

Teleconference History

History of Teleconferencing

Teleconferencing got its start in the 1960s with telecommunications giant AT&T. Travel was cheaper, back then, and telecommunications technology still had a way to go, but some pioneering companies saw the possibilities that teleconferencing offered. Bank of America has actually been using it for high-level meetings since 1968.

Since the 60s, teleconferencing has improved greatly, and the computer revolution greatly expanded the possibilities offered by teleconferencing. Videoconferences and conferences that enable users to share information and visual displays using computers are quite common today. Advances in telecommunications technology have also made international conference calls a reliable reality.

International conference calling offers some big benefits for companies who use it correctly. Tech Crunchies estimates that conference calls save users 30 percent in travel costs. Proficient users of teleconferencing enjoy the technology, as 87 percent of businesses and consumers who use teleconferencing prefer it to face-to-face communication where distance is an issue. With the right technology and training, teleconferences aren’t just useful, they’re actually quite enjoyable.

BroadData Conferencing provides teleconference services to customers around the world. The company offers a flexible approach to audio and web conferencing, with features such as reservationless conferencing, operator assisted teleconferencing, and much more. BroadData Conferencing helps clients enjoy meaningful and productive teleconferences that advance their work. Contact them today for a consultation regarding how their services can improve your international collaboration efforts.