Conference calls can be tricky when you’re traveling. How do you ensure clear connections and smooth operations while you’re on the road? Here are a few tips.

  • Pay attention to time zones. It can be especially difficult to keep track of time when you’re outside of your usual zone — especially if the call’s participants are scattered around the globe. When scheduling a call, use a time zone calculator to find the most convenient time for everyone involved. Set an alert on your mobile phone that will go off 15 minutes beforehand as a reminder.
  • Make sure your phone reception is up to par. Whenever possible, use a landline or an internet connection (to plug into a VoIP service, such as Skype, via your laptop). If you must use your mobile phone, verify in advance that the area where you’ll be during the call has sufficient coverage; if it doesn’t, you may need to relocate. If you’re a bit of a MacGyver, you could also try WiseBread’s strategies for hacking your phone to boost reception.
  • Get the right gear. Portable speakerphones, such as the Jabra Speak 410, can plug into your laptop for use during a VoIP call. If you’re calling from your car, purchase a Bluetooth speakerphone unit, or consider buying a GPS device that’s equipped with built-in Bluetooth hands-free call technology, such as the TomTom VIA 1535TM.
  • Use the Mute button when necessary. If you’re at an airport or another busy locale, or if you’re getting a lot of static on the line, press your phone’s Mute button to spare your fellow conversationalists the background noise. Just remember to “unmute” when it’s your turn to talk!
  • Record the conversation. If you’re unable to take notes during a call, consider recording the conversation so you can listen to it again later. (Note: By law, you’re required to inform fellow participants that you’ll be recording the call.) Use an app like MP3 Skype Recorder for conducting calls over Skype or PhoneTap ($4.99 for iPhone). For easy reference, you may then want to send your audio files to a transcription service, such as Scribie.
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About the Author: Kathryn Hawkins 
Kathryn Hawkins is a writer and editorial consultant who has worked with publications including Inc. and GOOD Magazine. She is principal and content strategy lead at the Maine custom content and web development agency Hawkins Multimedia.