A conference call involves the communication between a calling party and more than one listener. There are numerous conference call services available, making it difficult to make a quick decision. The service that you choose will ultimately depend on the expectations and uses you wish get out of your conference calls. For some, only a few details matter, such as price, while others are in need of advanced services like on-the-spot technical support. Below are a few factors to consider when choosing the conference call service that is most compatible with your needs.
Business Conference Calls
When it comes time to report quarterly stats, many companies turn to conference calls. This allows them to communicate the ups and downs of their business to interested parties. A higher-level company executive, such as the CEO, often reads the company reports. Once the results are revealed, the call is then accessible for others to join in, namely stock analysts, who come with a slew of questions. Businesses may also use conference calls to promote their products or services. Seminar leaders may open a conference call to the public to share their marketing techniques or business strategies for free or a small price.
Entertainment-Based Conference Calls
Today, people are looking for more and more ways to make new friends or find the companion of their dreams. When bars and clubs get to be too much, the allure of chatting on a "party line" becomes increasingly appealing. Entertainment-based conference calls are used to provide a break from boredom, as well as a way to socialize with others. Participants call a phone number set aside for this purpose and are plugged into a whole new world of mingling and flirting.
Audio vs. Visual
Audio conference calls are less expensive and require less equipment than visual conferencing. Web conference calls also open up a host of potential problems, such as malfunctioning chat, instant message, and web cam services. Streaming video may also pose concerns. Although the capabilities of visual conference calls are vast and have a better way of getting the point across, depending on your intended audience, the concept might be too advanced.
To use visual conferencing as a business tool, you will also have to familiarize yourself with an assortment of software selections and other online options. Learning visual conferencing techniques is a process. For example, include too many large files and you may end up with a communication problem.
Conference Call Limitations
What kind of conference call do you want? Some services allow the called party to speak during a call, while other selections only allow called parties to listen to what is being said.
Conference Call Set-Up
Do you want to control how conference calls are received and made? Calling parties can place calls to desired participants or entrance to a call is gained by calling a special phone number.
Reservation vs Non-Reservation
When you choose a service offering reservation-less conference calls, you will enjoy more freedom. Calls can be placed at any time without speaking to an operator or setting up an appointment. Reservation services require you to schedule your call ahead of time.
Conference Call Commands
What sort of capabilities do calling parties have when choosing a service? Things to consider include the ability to get operator assistance, mute and unmute participants, alter ringing tones and record conversations.
Call Planning is Essential
Knowing how long your conference call will be allows you to shuffle along participants to meet time expectations. As a rule of thumb, a conference call centers on an hour or more. Larger groups demand longer time frames, but without the use of video, it is difficult to keep the interest of all participants.
Usually, about 1-3 minutes are given to each participant to voice his or her opinions. Often, an hour-long conversation handles about 1-2 topics. Another important factor pertaining to conference calls is to prepare for last-minute technical issues. Be aware of applicable time zones and schedule a conference call that will accommodate all of your desired participants. When choosing a service, make sure all customer and technical support will be handled in a timely manner.
Accepting a variety of credit cards, some services offer per minute pricing plans. Once the conference call is completed, a call summary is emailed to you with all of the details. Applicable charges are then placed on your credit card. Additional plans include flat rate unlimited and monthly plans. Some companies offer a flat monthly rate of $60 for a maximum of five people that allows unlimited usage for the month.
Will the conference call service you choose provide you with extra services? Depending on your needs, you may desire to have a taped recording of your conference call. Some services offer this luxury for a flat fee (around $25). Some charge an hourly rate if you wish to have a transcript of your call. Rebroadcasts are also offered through some services for a fee. For an extra charge, operator assistance might be available, which helps with the moderation of conference calls.
Several Conference Call Service Companies Reviewed
Accu Conference: This on-demand, fully automated toll-free service offers reservation-less service, free call recordings and live in-call web control for 9.9 cents per line. Operator service costs 13.9 cents. Unlimited use, flat-rate conferencing is offered, starting at $99 per month.
No Cost Conference : Offers free, reservation-less conference call capabilities, available 24 hours a day. You will receive a pin and dial-in phone number once a quick registration is completed. Free and cheap conference call services are good for short notice calls and limited budgets. With this option, reliability of service does become a concern.
WebEx: Offers conference call services, as well as helpful products, such as Meeting Center, Training Center, Support Center and Sales Center. They offer different solutions to better serve small, medium and large companies. They also offer decent live technical support and pay-per-use services.
OnConference: This service offers no set-up fee and has a listed price of 19 cents per minute per person with or without toll-free access.
Contact Call: Highly recommended for their operator-assisted services.
When you conduct careful comparisons and research on the many conference call services, you will be able to take advantage of a wealth of savings that regular phone services cannot provide.