How to plan a meeting with international attendees

Start early

Give yourself more time for planning an international meeting in comparison to a regular one. Everything will take longer: negotiations, setting up contracts, travel planning and booking of the venue and transportation. At the same time, your international attendees will also appreciate more advance notice for everything. Let them know as early as possible so they can make arrangements to meet the latest requirements and regulations regarding international travel.

international-meetingSave time – and face

Save yourself and everyone else some time by providing a checklist and answers to frequently asked questions, for example on the registration website. These should cover international travel issues, currency and exchange rates, shipping and customs restrictions, travel times, language barriers, overall costs and personal security issues.

global_meeting_place_lgLanguage services

Ideally, your destination country is English friendly, but depending on the size of your international meeting, you might soon find that you will have to provide some sort of language services for your attendees. For some, a simple translation and phrase book might suffice, while others will need or even expect full-on interpretation services.

Keep it simple

Don’t overwhelm your international attendees with too much going on and simplify wherever you can. This applies to your itinerary, and probably doubly so to the lunch menu. Short and concise descriptions help international participants, especially when they’re not fluent in English. Presentations and materials in standard, basic English will avoid things being lost in translation.

global-meetingsExperience the local

When traveling abroad, your attendees will likely expect a unique experience. Be sure to include details typical to the destination to also make your international meeting a local one. Meals, food and drinks are usually the easiest fixed points of a meeting to infuse with a local flavour, but also consider traditional customs, local attractions and treats as possibilities for extracurricular activities around your meeting.

Manage expectations

You will have to manage both your own expectations as well as those of your participants. When holding a meeting abroad, you will not bring a meeting from your country there, you will have a foreign meeting. Some countries don’t commonly use chairs for seating, others have non-QWERTY keyboards. Any equipment or material you rent or find at your destination might differ in unexpected ways.

Keep it going

For your international meeting, everything will be higher: expectations, cost, risks – but also rewards. Use the occasion to follow up with your participants with meeting material relevant to them. Presentations, recorded video and pictures are worth sharing with the group, and don’t forget the moments of socialising captured around your meeting – but make sure these are shared in appropriate ways and manners.