How to prepare an international conference call
It is best to send the agenda to all the participants well before the call.

How to prepare an international conference call

This situation seems familiar to you. You must attend or even conduct a conference call. If you are not so practiced, no problem. Jutta Markhof, Head of Business Development Berlitz Seminars Europe, has summarized the most important points for you.

Mark will be leading an important conference call and he asks Emma for advice about how to use the time efficiently and to ensure everything goes smoothly. He is worried about the call, because they have a lot of important ideas to discuss and only thirty minutes to do it in. So, what’s the best preparation?

First of all, it is best to send the agenda to all the participants well before the call. That way everyone will be prepared. Make sure that the conference call begins on time and that everybody stays on track. The participants should introduce themselves, which will save valuable time. If you have international participants, you can use the following tipps, to lead through the call.

CROSS CULTURAL DOS AND DON’TS

USA: Americans prefer conference calls over face-to-face meetings as their business mantra is “time is money”. The agenda is closely followed and at the end of each call the chairperson summarizes the various points raised and the action plan.

Do: dial-in on time; choose concise and direct arguments; avoid making claims that can’t be supported by facts.

Don’t: go off topic or diverge from the agenda.

Japan: Telephone conferences in Japan are rather formal. Therefore, it is important to refer to participants by their titles and last names. Punctuality is crucial. Participants must be courteous and the use of humor should be avoided.

Do: start and finish the call on time; use the title of “Mr”, “Mrs” and “Ms” when referring to participants, or ‘san’ in Japanese.

Don’t: interrupt the speaker (instead wait for a pause before speaking).

Australia: In Australia, participants are expected to sign into the conference call early and engage in small talk. Agendas are rarely followed and participants are not expected to prepare very much. Conference calls can be used as open debates.

Do: use some humor as it is accepted in business situations; refer to the participants by their first names.

Don’t: over-prepare; be evasive since Australians like direct communication.

COMMON EXPRESSIONS

Setting up the conference call

  • Have you printed my notes as well as the agenda for the conference call?
  • Can you please send me the dial-in number and necessary pass codes ?
  • I would like to remind you that the call is planned for 4.00 p.m. GMT.

Introducing the different speakers

  • My assistant will be taking the minutes so please say your name before speaking.
  • Good afternoon, everyone. This is Sandra, from Berlin, speaking.
  • Johan from Amsterdam has just joined.

Beginning the conference call

  • Let’s call the conference to order.
  • I will have the floor for the first 10 minutes, and then I’ll hand it over to…
  • I would like to begin by…

Calling on different speakers

  • Does the team from Tokyo have anything to add?

  • The floor is open. Perhaps we can turn it over to Sarah?
  • Would you like to come in at this point, Jane?

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