While having remote teams has its advantages, it also has certain drawbacks that one cannot ignore. One of these drawbacks is the time differences when it’s time for a conference call. Remote teams in one country is one thing and a little easier to manage. Remote teams in different parts of the world, on the other hand, will be more difficult. If you don’t tread carefully through the multiple timezones, then your meeting might not transpire at all. You need to find the best time for a meeting for an effective large conference call. Here are a few tips to help you with scheduling international conference calls:
First and foremost, you have to take note of the different timezones and the time differences between your locations and the participants’. You don’t want to schedule an international conference call that takes place at the most inconvenient hour for some.
List down your different locations and the time differences. From there, you’ll be able to find the best time for a meeting, one that will fit all your schedules the most. If there’s no suitable time frame that can fit all your schedules, select the next best choice. If it seems too difficult or bothersome for other participants, let’s say 7 AM or 6 PM in their local time, inform them first and ask for their approval.
Of course, finding the best time for a meeting is not that easy and can get too confusing when you have participants in multiple timezones. Fortunately, there are now online tools that can help you compare and contrast timezones and schedule your international conference call.
World Time Buddy is a convenient world clock, time converter, and also an online meeting scheduler. It lets you input different places into rows and aligns their current local times, so you can effortlessly compare multiple timezones.
Doodle, on the other hand, is a tool mainly for scheduling meetings. It advocates hassle-free scheduling as it lets members simply indicate their availability in a calendar.
It’s important to give an international toll number, or even an international toll-free number, for your international participants. Your large conference call provider should be able to provide international long-distance numbers for participants outside the US and Canada. With this, they can easily dial in and participate in the conference call.
To make sure your conference calls are not too much of an inconvenience despite the different timezones, keep the meetings as brief and concise as possible.
Encourage everyone to dial in on time, avoid idle times as much as possible, and make sure to prioritize relevant and urgent topics. Most importantly, have a conference call agenda. This will help you stay on track and on topic as you go through your meeting. If you send the agenda beforehand, presenters and leaders will know when to speak up and how to manage their time wisely, therefore making your conference call as quick and efficient as possible.
It’s also great if you can try and learn about the different cultures of your international participants. There will be cultural differences for sure, and if you have an idea, even just an inkling, about what these are, the call will go much smoother. You can establish respect and camaraderie right away, and you can avoid simple misunderstandings as you go through your discussion.
And of course, you should also grab the opportunity to record and transcribe the call. Recording the call means you can go back to certain parts you might have missed or misunderstood. You can even use the audio recording to send it to both participants and the non-attendees so they are up to date. Or better yet, you can use it to transcribe the call and keep the transcription as documentation.