According to a recent report by Asialink Business, Australian companies attempting to enter the Asian market are facing many challenges, especially surrounding understanding Asian business culture and practical information such as laws and regulations. With the availability of web conferencing, Australian businesses can now easily reach out to Asian and other international business leaders, to learn more about the global market.
While international web conferences are an invaluable tool in a globalised world, cultural differences and communication issues can hamper collaboration when conducting a conference call. Here are some things to keep in mind when organising your next international web conference.
Do your research
It is incredibly important to do some research into the cultural and linguistic backgrounds of your web conference participants so that you can plan appropriately and have a better understanding of their expectations.
One important point of research, as highlighted by the International Meetings Review, is to ensure that your meeting does not fall on any important holidays for your participants. By choosing a date only in consideration of your own public holidays, you might be leaving out a group of people who could contribute to the conference call in valuable ways.
Another aspect to your cultural research should be the language of your participants. If possible, you should learn a few basic words to demonstrate, as the organiser of the conference call, that you are welcoming your international participants and are interested and aware of the different viewpoints they can bring.
Furthermore, if your research brings you to the realisation that language could in fact be an issue during your call, it wouldn't hurt to hire an interpreter, especially since, with the possibility of having over 200 people participate, there is more than enough room for everyone.
As the organiser of the web conference, it is up to you to ensure that cultural differences don't come in the way of participants forming relationships and sharing ideas.
One important strategy you can use right off the bat is to get everyone to introduce themselves and state where they are from. This way, especially with a large number of participants on the call, people can more easily recognise each others' voices and have a bit of context for what they are saying.
Building relationships also means showing interest in and knowledge about international participants' lives. As the International Meetings Review article highlights, one easy way to do this is by researching ahead of time what events might have just happened in their country such as holidays or important sports games.
Set expectations from the get-go
Setting out a protocol for web conference participants to follow can make the meeting run more smoothly, while also putting international participants at ease by letting them know what to expect.
While this would definitely include informing participants of what the official language for the conference will be, the Harvard Business Review suggests potentially setting expectations for taking turns speaking as well.
In line with setting out expectations, it's also important to send out instructions to all participants ahead of time so that everyone knows how to call in. If being on time is important, you may also want to highlight this in your instructions as not all cultures adhere to strict punctuality.
By doing research ahead of time and being aware of cultural differences, web conference organisers can hold successful and enlightening meetings. As the Journal of Intercultural Communication highlights, the goal of an international conference should not be to eliminate cultural differences but to use the dynamics created by them to come to new ideas.
To start hosting high-quality web conferences with participants around the world, contact the team at Eureka Conferencing now.