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World Clock Meeting Planner Tips for Global Meetings
It is hard enough to plan a meeting when every participant works in the same building or even the same continent. The challenges grow when meeting organizers must bring together people from around the globe. How can facilitators make sure they are meeting the needs of their guests and ensure a smooth communication process?
Global Meetings Industry Day 2019
Advances in technology have made this undertaking much smoother than it was in the past. Meeting scheduling tools can manage and automate many of the things usually done manually to pull off a successful worldwide conference. Many were put to use during this year’s Global Meetings Industry Day.
Global Meetings Industry Day 2019 Toronto, held on April 4th, saw hundreds of business leaders come together to discuss the impacts of meetings, conventions, and other gatherings on various industries. The tools used in their efforts were more advanced than those used for Global Meetings Industry Day 2018 and the same will hold true for Global Meeting Industry Day 2020. It is essential that teams, vendors, and other necessary business personnel remain in contact regardless of where they may be residing around the globe.
Meeting organizers must consider the current time zone of their guests. The agenda items covered should have relevance to attendees from different parts of the globe. Any changes to the time or agenda need to be communicated as far ahead as possible to avoid inconveniencing attendees. Another vital consideration is accounting for customs and etiquette expectations for specific geographical locations.
Use the following tips when conducting a global meeting.
1. Create an Effective Meeting Agenda
The main reason that meetings tend to go off-track is that the organizer failed to provide and implement an agenda. That can lead to attendees going off on tangents and preventing the meeting leader from fully delving into essential topics. Attendees should never feel their time has been wasted. It is also not productive to be forced to schedule a second meeting because of a failure in planning out the first one. You an use a meeting tool like Docket to build and share agendas prior to the meeting to improve productivity and awareness.
Respect the Attendee’s Time
Using a time and date meeting planner ensures that meeting invitees receive an accurate time and date. That lets organizers see whether the gathering will intrude on the personal time of guests or if they already have another event planned during that period. A robust meeting planner app can assist in these efforts.
Use an Agenda Template
Make sure any agenda template used follows the purpose of weekly team meetings or other discussions. Look for and modify a team meeting agenda template to attach to the invitation or easily share it to meeting guests through a tool like Docket. Some queries that can be helpful when searching online include “conference agenda template” or “business meeting agenda sample.” Make sure the final agenda is easy to read and understand.
Work Important Topics First
Start with the essential topics and work down to less important matters. It is also a good idea to include time limits for each subject when planning out a weekly meeting agenda. Going in order from most to least important ensures that the organizer gets to the most critical meeting topics. Expand time slots for more essential discussions and limit it for things that may not be as pressing.
Think About Language Differences
Consider making the agenda available in a language more comfortable for the attendee. For example, those planning a meeting with guests from French or Spanish-speaking countries may want to create agendas in English, French, and Spanish.
Think About Bandwidth
Not every country has the same internet bandwidth. It is crucial to confirm whether attendees have the capability of accessing the tools that will be used during the global meeting. They also need a connection that won’t cause them to be continuously dropped and forced to reconnect. Consider making a meeting audio-only to cut down on the amount of bandwidth consumed by the user.
2. Understand the Time Zones of Global Meeting Guests
Planning a global meeting means being aware of all the potential time zones of meeting invitees. That means knowing what time it is in London if there are attendees from that location. There are currently 37 different time zones around the world. The existence of the International Date Line (IDL) and the short distance between certain time zones have expanded the number currently in use.
Trying to track the various zones of attendees manually can become overwhelming. Make sure the meeting technology recognizes the local time zone of guests. There are a variety of tools that can be used to make time zone management a smoother process. Many incorporate a world clock with seconds to help figure out times. These tools can answer queries like “GMT time and date,” or “UK time zone” to reduce confusion.
Here is an example of determining a meeting time and managing that event in Docket.
- A senior VP decides to meet with the managers of their various departments to pass on some important company updates.
- They decide the meeting should start at around 11:00 a.m. on the East Coast.
- There are 20 attendees, with some from the West Coast and others located around Europe.
- The VP sets up the meeting and adds the names of all managers who should attend in their chosen calendar application.
- West Coast users receive a meeting invitation with a start time of 8:00 a.m., which reflects the -3-hour adjustment that must be made.
- Users in Europe near London receive a meeting invitation with a start time of 4:00 p.m., reflecting the +5-adjustment needed for their time zone.
- The meeting organizer incorporates all these items, including the time and date sent for each attendee, to provide agendas, record sessions, and post-meeting feedback.
Time zone management allows the VP to create a meeting time that is manageable for all guests.
3. Time and Date Converter Tips
Meeting organizers should understand how to use online tools for time zone calculations. Any calculations for the attendee’s time zone should account for the Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), any offsets needed for the time zone, local Daylight Savings Times (DST) rules, and the time settings on the user’s computer.
Below is an example of how a time converter helps account for these differences. These calculations can also be done manually when sending out meeting invitations.
Local time for attendee = UTC at time of meeting + standard offsets for the time zone + any needed offsets to account for daylight savings time.
- The organizer sets the meeting at 3:00 p.m. UTC
- One user is in a Pacific time zone, so there needs to be an offset of -8 hours from the meeting time
- It is not currently daylight savings time, so the offset for that should be zero.
When the attendee receives their invitation, they should get a message that reads that the meeting starts at 7:00 a.m. Pacific Time. It can help to use a time and date converter in these efforts instead of doing manual calculations. A time and date converter like worldtimebuddy or other world clock converter sites can be used.
Meeting organizers can also look for a time zone converter map that gives a visualization of the time zone for their guests. They may also want to investigate installing a time converter widget on their desktop or mobile device for quick calculations.
4. Global Meeting Scheduler Tips
Meeting tools can remove the stress from an organizer’ global meeting planner efforts. While they can use a free online scheduling tool which does time zone conversions, it is still up to the planner to pick an appropriate time for everyone. The more widespread the attendees are around the globe, the trickier this effort becomes.
For example, imagine that a company manager in Detroit needed to conduct a quarterly meeting with direct reports in Australia. That is a 14-hour time difference to overcome. 7:00 a.m. in Detroit would be 11:00 p.m. in that part of the world.
While the above use case is an extreme example, it does show the importance of accounting for the inconvenience a meeting time might pose to global users. It is not always possible to make everyone happy, but it helps to try to adhere to the following tips as much as possible.
- Look for overlaps in schedules — Some industries do allow for unusual working hours. Try to find common points between workers where schedules overlap. Ask employees to submit around two to four hours where their workday intersects with their peers.
- Create a virtual cheat sheet — Set up a digital cross-section of convenient meeting times across global offices that can be accessed quickly. Work with a timeanddate converter to create these references.
- Rotate meeting times — Someone may end up inconvenienced despite the best efforts of the meeting organizer. Shift that burden around by changing up the times of meetings so that members from some regions of the globe don’t always have to suffer through an early or late-night session.
- Record meetings — Create recordings of sessions and share them with personnel. Make sure to prompt for questions beforehand and make sure they are covered. That can be an excellent alternative for situations where there is a Detroit-to-Australia time zone gulf to overcome. Some platforms like GoToMeeting allows immediate sharing of recordings once the meeting has ended.
Some other global meeting planner tools that can assist in scheduling include the Doodle app, Doodle poll alternatives, or even a weekly schedule template Excel document. Those with access to Office 365 can schedule meeting in Outlook. The important thing is making sure the tool used can adapt to the needs of the meeting organizer.