Thursday, March 4, 2010

Working Globally: Conference Call vs Email

Doing business globally means having a need to contact people who live on the opposite side of the globe many times while working on the project. Modern technologies allow us to have a group meeting with nearly zero expenses: no need to spend time and money on traveling when you can just do a conference call. Conference call is a cheap and convenient way to have a real time discussion with many people. It’s like having a real meeting, but in the virtual world. All you have to do is just select a telecommunication service provider or use your VoIP software. The only question you have to answer before to start organizing a conference call is: is a conference call the BEST way to interact with people in my case? In other words, do you really need a live talk or would old-fashioned emails fit the situation better?

A conference call is not a good solution if:

  • Your interlocutors are not very good in the language you’re going to speak with them. You may speak too fast or with an accent that your partners are not accustomed to. You may use words they do not know. Consider the quality of the line and … send them emails. Your partners will not miss a single word from your message and may look up the words they do not know in their dictionaries. Email means no information losses.
  • Time difference is significant. If you have an early morning and your interlocutors have a late night, it’s not a good idea to talk to them. You are fresh and just have had your morning coffee – and they have had a hard working day behind them. Psychologically speaking, you would hardly find a common mental wave to discuss your topic efficiently. You’d better send them email and let them read it when they have time.
  • You expect your partners to give you an answer on a serious question. Live talk is good for a fast exchange of ideas and minor details. But if you are about to have a serious talk – send an email. Your partners may need to have a think think about your questions.
  • You and your interlocutors may want to get back to things you were discussing during a call. Of course, you may record your call and replay it later to refresh your memory. But wouldn’t an email be better for this? You can easily find a piece of text you need in your email instead of listening the call from the beginning in order to listen to an exact moment.

Technologies should serve your needs, not you should serve to technologies. Choose tools that fit your needs best.