How to Set-Up A Conference Call That Works
The telephone is finally coming of age. While VOIP, satellite phones, etc are all being tauted, the basics of getting together on the phone to COMMUNICATE with each other doesn’t change. Conference calls and teleseminars finally seem to be breaking the barriers and are being used by the masses.
Being accustomed to working virtually in my business, conference calls are definitely a part of the daily grind. Here’s some recommended options to try and integrate into your own daily routine:
UltraConference: on-demand fully automated service available anytime without reservations, enhanced web administration and lots of features. International support of over 30 countries. Flat rate plan if you use conf calls regularly.
FlexTel: Supports over 50 international countries for dial-in. Not the cheapest — 8.9 cents/min USA with toll-free number for inbound calling.
Genesys Telecom: Standard run-of-the-mill service. We used them for awhile without any major complaints.
FreeConfrerence.com: totally free conference calling service. Great for “internal” meetings. Callers are greeted with snippet that reveals “free” service, so it may not be the best to utilize with ”new clients” in terms of image/perception. Regular clients love it because they know I’m saving them money and not trying to bilk them. Max 30 users for free service, 150 for paid 10 cents/min service (with toll free # too). The paid service also allows you to record the calls.
ConferenceCall.com: another PAID service. EXPENSIVE service — they do it all, but why pay more? Haven’t figured it out yet.
LiveOfficeFreeConferencing.com: these guys have a clean interface and allows you to record mp3 audio files of your conference calls at anytime during the conference. If you need a toll-free number, there’s a 8 cents/min plan.
Skype: eBay’s VoIP baby has entered into the one-to-many model with sypke-casting. Decent service to test out. Not as “built-out” as some of these other services that are aimed directly at B2B markets, vs. B2C as Skype originally was set-up.
Most of the services out there are pretty good. Most provide “reservationless” conferences where you don’t have to manually set-up a call like you used to in the “good old days”. You can just hop on to the website, set-up the call, input your participant list (if you want) and they’ll just email the dial-in #, time, and PIN numbers to everyone. Some services will send reminder emails as the date/time approaches.
Another service is your own dedicated conf call “room” so that you can just start a call “on the fly”. Basically you’re assigned a specific conf call dial-in number and a participant pin # that’s all yours to use anytime you want.
One feature that I’m finding increasingly useful and something that can also help monetize client calls (with their permission of course), is to make sure your RECORD the call. Many of the services record in mp3 format on demand and make the recording available over the web in minutes after the call ends. Now you can post it online, email it to those that missed the call, burn CD’s, create a product or giveaway with it, etc. This is a great feature to have available when conducting any type of educational / consulting / problem-solving call (vs. a committee meeting, or other meetings where you just go over facts, updates, etc.).
There are tons of other uses for conference calls — a relatively new use is to pod-cast the audio files if you’re setting up a series or ongoing calls. A great use for support groups, etc.
Next-up: Free webconferencing…I’ve been using a free web-based desk-top sharing/webcast service that I’ll share with you shortly!