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Etiquette tips for Americans holding a teleconference call with French Businesses


Videoconferencing has made the world a smaller place, quite arguably, but with the ability to cross borders comes far more responsibility than ever before. Let’s take Bluejeans for example. With it you have the ability to accomplish a number of different amazing tasks from local meetings to overseas conferences, but communication at home and communications overseas are two very different things. The traditions and customs that you are used to in America for example are far different than those you would practice at home with your own colleagues. If you are planning to hold a conference with a French company, there are a number of standards and protocols that you should try to adhere to according to Inc.com and IGCmed if you want to have a successful meeting, and you can trust us when we say it’s not nearly as hard as you might think. Let’s talk a bit about the protocol you should follow when you are in meetings with French colleagues or potential business partners. Don’t worry, it’s pretty easy.


Protocols for Working with the French


You don’t Always have to Be on Time

This is one that tends to surprise people, especially considering the punctuality that Americans tend to use in their meetings. This is not to say that you should start half an hour or even an hour late, but if you need to wait for someone, it is referred to as the quart d'heure marseillais. In most cases, if the meeting starts on time, people tend to get confused.


Don’t Interrupt the Speaker

All meetings have an agenda that you need to follow, and the French love to stick with their schedules. The last thing you want to do, is make the mistake of deviating from said schedule, so if you have something to say, and it doesn’t correlate to something that is already on the agenda, then it would be best to wait until the meeting is concluded.


Beginning, Middle, and End

Once a meeting is complete, you need to summarize everything that happened. If a conclusion was reached, it would be a good idea to write it down and discuss it at the very end of the meeting. That, however, is not always enough. Sometimes it is best to make sure that you circulate a memo of some kind, and most videoconferencing software will actually allow you to do that.


Creativity Abounds

Yes, there are a number of rules that you need to follow when you are dealing with a French meeting, but one thing you need to remember, is that the French are far more creative in their meetings. These are not stiff, bland meetings that you might be used to! Naturally you need to figure it out, and test the waters, which is something that you can do when you are holding the videoconferencing calls. Follow their lead and see just where it takes you. You might be pleasantly surprised.


Unclear Procedures

One of the most interesting things about meetings with the French is that they don’t like to stick to procedures. They like to stick with the schedule, but that doesn’t mean they are going to follow a bulleted list right down to the letter in order to conduct the meeting. This is not a bad thing, actually! It allows for greater creativity and far more productivity than ever before. You might find it amazing the ideas and solutions that can arise when you aren’t stuck inside the proverbial box. Enrepreneur.com does recommend however that you stay focused on the meeting – don’t multitask too much!


Expect Diversity

In dealing with the French, at least during meetings, you can expect them to be doing many things at once. Rather than focusing on a single issue at hand, you will generally find that they are able to juggle multiple topics and even move back and forth between them. It might sound a little confusing at first but don’t worry, it can actually be far more efficient. You’ll simply need to learn to keep up, and make sure you’re on the same page – whatever that page might be.


Hire an Interpreter

The last piece of advice we are going to give you is to have an interpreter on standby. While you might be able to communicate in English, there are certain cultural differences that could lead to problems during the meeting. The last thing you want do is insult your potential business partners – that’s not a great thing for a merger. There are many services that will allow you to hire a translator, and these people are well vetted. It’s in your best interest, trust us.


As you can see, there are plenty of things to think about when it comes to videoconferencing across borders, so take them into account and have a successful meeting. It’s not nearly as hard as it sounds.


Have you ever made assumptions based on your own culture that led to embarrassing moments overseas?