How To Schedule Meetings Across Time Zones (With Tips)
Updated September 30, 2022
Holding virtual work meetings with team members across the world has become more common. When you have team members in various time zones, scheduling a meeting at an appropriate time for all of them can take a lot of planning. Understanding how to schedule meetings across time zones can help you create a plan and increase meeting attendance for your team.
In this article, we offer a step-by-step guide to help you learn how to schedule meetings like this, along with some tips to help overcome common challenges.
How to schedule meetings across time zones
Having a plan can help you schedule meetings across time zones efficiently. Efficient and effective scheduling can help increase meeting attendance and improve your team's communication. When scheduling a meeting across time zones, consider the following steps:
1. Determine when teammates' schedules overlap
When scheduling a meeting across time zones, it's helpful to schedule one when many of your team members already work, which can improve attendance. Having a high attendance rate at your meetings has several benefits. For example, if your team has questions, you can answer them immediately and provide clarity for everyone. For those who can't attend, consider compiling a brief document with the meeting's most important topics.
Related: Virtual Meetings: A Definitive Guide
2. Use a scheduling tool
Depending on the size of your team and the amount of communication necessary to schedule the meeting, you might find a scheduling tool useful. Automated scheduling tools can help you analyze the times that work for your team, create a meeting, send your team details about the meeting and provide them a link. Many tools like this are available, so consider an internet search to help you find the one that works best for you.
3. Coordinate calendars
Some team members might use different calendar apps to keep track of their meetings. If you use a scheduling tool, it might provide a link for each teammate to add reminders to their calendars. If that's not an option, you can gather calendar information from each teammate. With shared calendars, you can create alerts or confirm that each teammate has a reminder for the meeting set.
4. Determine your preferred meeting app
Virtual meeting apps are a common method for holding meetings across different time zones. It's possible your business has an internal app for such meetings. If not, it's helpful to determine one app to use for every meeting. This way, your teammates can all already have the app installed and ready to use. This also helps reduce confusion regarding where each meeting takes place. Once you create a meeting in that app, it should provide a link you can send to your team that brings them to the meeting in the predetermined app automatically.
5. Create a meeting agenda
Having an agenda or itinerary for the meeting can help you run the meeting efficiently. This can also help motivate some teammates to attend the meeting. For example, suppose a teammate lives in a time zone that would put the meeting at the very beginning or end of their day. If you have a reputation for running quick, efficient meetings, that teammate might know this and be more likely to attend.
6. Follow up in a group chat
Virtual communication such as group chats can help a team communicate at any time. Using a group chat can help those who couldn't attend the full meeting ask questions and learn about what they missed. It can also help you correct any misunderstandings your team might have about the meeting. Group chats also offer a simple format for providing the entire team with links to information and visual materials you referenced in the meeting.
Tips for scheduling meetings across time zones
Understanding the potential challenges of scheduling meetings across time zones can help you overcome them or even prevent them from occurring. When scheduling meetings across time zones, consider the following tips:
If your team spans many time zones with little crossover or limited overlap hours, it's helpful to remain flexible. When scheduling a meeting, consider selecting multiple meeting times. This way, if most of your team can't make your first suggested time, you can provide other options. These options can help you more quickly find a time that works for most of your team.
Rotate meeting times
It's possible that a perfect meeting time is only perfect for some teammates. While that time might work for some of your teammates, it might take more effort for others to attend regularly. Rotating times for regular meetings can help you schedule meetings that work for your teammates more often. Understanding the rotating schedule can also help motivate your teammates to attend meetings that occur outside of their preferred times.
Focus on quality audio and video
During meetings, it's helpful for your teammates to see and hear you clearly. This can help increase your chances of communicating effectively. An internet search can help you find high-quality equipment, such as cameras or microphones. A search can also help you determine how to get the best audio and visual quality from the equipment you already have.
Recording meetings and providing links to the recordings for your team can have many benefits. For those who can't attend meetings, they can watch the meeting at a time that's comfortable for them. Knowing they'll receive a recording can help some teammates determine whether to attend. For instance, if they're making progress with a project and don't want to stop or if they need to get to sleep early that night, they can feel confident that they won't miss anything. Recordings can also help those who attended review the meeting if they'd like to do so.
Give everyone a chance to talk
When running any meeting, especially one across time zones, it's helpful to give every attendee an opportunity to offer input or ask questions. If your teammate has an idea or a constructive opinion, they might find it important that they get to express it. Letting teammates speak when they have something to say lets them know that you listen to them. For those teammates in hard-to-schedule time zones, knowing you'll give them a chance to speak can help motivate them to attend a meeting.
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