In this day and age, business is done across time zones and national borders. That means you’ll increasingly be using telephone and videoconferences to communicate, and that the other attendees may be in different countries. Whereas some cultures adapt to the exigencies of telephone and videoconferences better than others – for example, those cultures that don’t rely on nonverbal cues and gestures to make a point – there are plenty of stumbling blocks that can arise when you’re meeting with people who aren’t in the same room as you.
To avoid miscommunication and other pitfalls, keep the following telephone and videoconference communication tips in mind:
1) Firstly, it is a good idea to have someone facilitate the call to ensure that all parties are participating; remember that teleconferences need as much facilitation as face-to-face meetings.
2) Before the meeting, send out an agenda so that everyone is on the same page and so that all attendees know what to expect. Try to have background information prepared in advance so the conversation can flow smoothly.
3) Establish ground rules for the conversation at the beginning – for example, let the attendees know if they can interrupt to ask questions or if they should wait till the end for Q&A.
4) Take a roll call of who is on the line. Consider reminding everyone to state their name before they address the group so there is no confusion about roles or who is speaking.
5) Clearly communicate to non-native speakers. Enunciate well, do not use idiomatic expressions, and speak slowly. Have the facilitator paraphrase or repeat answers to verify understanding and to confirm when decisions have been made.
6) And finally, follow up with an email to all participants to confirm what was agreed upon during the call and to explain any complex ideas that were communicated.
Following these guidelines can help prevent misunderstandings or mishaps that could derail your meeting’s agenda.Back to Navigating Culture Blog