The benefits of an international conference table
Instead of traveling hours in a plane or car, you can reach customers and co-workers with just a few clicks. No matter where on earth you are located, you need nothing more than a computer and Internet connection to meet with important people.
As early as 1967, American psychologist Stanley Milgram noted a development that has since become undeniable: “The world keeps getting smaller". His discovery that every person throughout the world is connected with every other through a relatively short chain of relationships is known as the "Small world experiment". Forty years later, technology has given us the ability to profit from these connections. Thanks to Web conferences, every business partner, co-worker, and customer is only a few clicks away. Organizations that exploit these capabilities can benefit in many different ways. In particular, spatial factors no longer play a role in setting up project teams, selecting service providers, or capturing markets.
Web conferences let you be anywhere anytime
Whether you are working on important projects, exchanging knowledge on a global basis, or developing innovative products at multiple locations, having a way to regularly communicate with co-workers, customers, and partners is the key to effective collaboration. Our free "Project Management" whitepaper (PDF) will show you how to use Web conferences for better, faster, and smoother international project work. Regularly scheduled Web conferences keep the entire team moving forward together, regardless of how far apart the co-workers are from each other. Projects are completed faster because it is not necessary to first settle on a time and place for all of the participants to get together. Web conferences provide clear and visually-supported communication, helping everyone understand their responsibilities and objectives and giving them a way to work more effectively. As a bonus, the company saves money because regular Web-based meetings can eliminate the need for many business trips.
Tips for intercultural communication
When building international teams, companies must find the best way to exploit the expertise and experiences of people from different cultures. Here are a few tips for utilizing Web conferences to harness the different approaches taken by people around the world:
- Familiarize yourself with cultural differences before the meeting starts. Use Internet resources to learn the basics of a culture. Newspapers and magazines also facilitate short-term familiarity with different cultures, customs, and traditions. Courses and training events can also prepare you for business formalities.
- Reserve some time at the beginning of a meeting so participants can get to know each other. Communication will go much smoother once the ice has been broken.
- Use short sentences and simple words whenever possible because not everyone is familiar with idiomatic expressions and colloquial speech.
- Listen carefully and ask questions when necessary, especially if you're not accustomed to someone's accent. Then repeat the other person's message in your own words and ask for confirmation. By doing this, many misunderstandings will be avoided.
- The video function of Web conferences can also help understand context. Facial expressions and gestures can quickly communicate emotions and reveal whether the person is serious or joking.
Here are a few links that will help you during the preparation phase:
Guide "Intercultural Competence: Interpersonal Communication Across Cultures"
International Business Etiquette and Manners
(collected by students of an International MBA program in Texas)