The exorbitant cost of traveling internationally has companies searching for ways to reduce costs. In the last decade or so, video conferencing has become a resource that fits the bill.
Access to video conferencing means the ability to work together creatively without needing to meet in an office. For many businesses, this has been a game-changing shift that has increased productivity, saved time, reduced costs, and extended their ability to work in a collaborative environment. These positive influences of video conferencing are even more obvious in the international business world. With video conferencing, costs and time factors decrease dramatically, and the opportunities for working with coworkers and partners across the globe increase greatly. A recent survey shows that by 2016, video conferencing is expected to be the preferred method of collaboration worldwide—putting it ahead of email and voice calls. With international business, this may already be happening due to the fact that many cultures prefer face-to-face interaction. In fact, 96 percent of business managers and leaders say video conferencing helps companies defy distance and break down cultural barriers to improve productivity.
Face time with important players in business collaboration is crucial, and for many international businesspeople, video conferencing is the best way for this to happen. Business professionals must dedicate time and effort learning cultural rules and customs before they travel to meet an international client or partner. Even though workers don’t have to leave the country for an international video conference, the same rules apply, and employees must be prepared by following these tips for a successful international business video conference:
- Understand cultural etiquette – Making an effort to learn the ways that your business associates abroad act, speak, dress, and conduct business makes for a successful meeting. Participants should be respectful of each other’s culture and way of life. In a virtual meeting with international partners, the rules of conduct are a little less formal, but to really win their favor, be aware of what they do and why they do it, and follow suit as appropriate, avoiding perceived offensive behavior.
- Be aware of body language – Video conference participants can say a lot without speaking, through body language. To be on the safe side, participants may choose to keep their body movements to a minimum. The benefit of being on a virtual video call is that most of the time, only the top half of the body will be visible, so focus on that unless standing to giving a presentation. Different cultures have diverse ways of communicating nonverbally, and these are worth practicing and perfecting.
- Use an interpreter – Unless everyone is using the same language, there is the possibility of miscommunication. An interpreter present at such meetings is helpful, just in case people don’t understand a part of the conversation. To get the best outcome from the meeting, everyone should be able to clearly comprehend what is being discussed.
- Limit multitasking – When meeting with an international business associate or client, participants should keep their attention focused on the topic at hand. This can prevent distraction and perceived rudeness toward the international audience.
- Use humor – In a meeting with people from other countries, miscommunications and errors can occur. If they do, apologize and laugh it off. Though goal of the meeting should be taken seriously, the meeting itself doesn’t have to be 100 percent serious. Every culture has a sense of humor. Utilizing humor will strengthen the relationship and make the meeting more enjoyable.
There are numerous advantages of video conferencing for international meetings. The meetings are generally shorter than face-to-face meetings; it is easier to follow rules of etiquette for shorter periods of time and with mostly only the upper half of the body. Users reduce their carbon footprint, save travel time, reduce security risks, and, of course, cut costs. VARs can help customers determine how much a company will save with video using the following cost justification tool: Multiply the number of annual trips by the average cost (including airfare, hotel, meals, and fees, plus time lost while waiting during delays) and compare it against the cost of installing a video conferencing system. VARs can show that most companies can reach a break-even point within three months after their systems are installed, and can significantly improve productivity as well as build relationships with their international clientele and partners.
Are there other advantages of using video conferencing with international clients and partners that should be discussed in this blog? Please comment below.