In all industries, we’ve seen changes and disruptions creeping in slowly over the years. Not sparing the telecommunications industry is the rise of technology supporting long distance calls and the way we hold conference calls.
Not only did the way we conduct conference calls change, the way we worked has also changed dramatically over the years. Working remotely has been the trend and will continue to be in the years to come. In fact, it is estimated that 70% of companies worldwide are promoting flexible working styles and an estimated of 1.3 billion workers are already working remotely across the globe.
An increase in worldwide calling plans has also been noticed – Businesses now rely more on remote telecommunications than ever before. These days, as plenty of businesses rely on IP telephony, the majority of call providers have included domestic and long distance calls as part of their packages. You can find out more about them by clicking here.
Getting a toll-free number has its advantages – Participants can join a conference call for free anywhere in the country which makes participants less hesitant to dial in. Calling a toll-free number is also seen as a form of professional courtesy from the host (the one inviting to the conference call) who picks up the bill which can have a positive impact on brand image, or simply increase attendance rates to the conference call.
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Nigel Sim for myGC
So you’re thinking about setting up a conference call system for your business. What features are you going to include? Some are essential and every company needs them. Others might be optional and depend on your organization’s size and complexity. Let’s find out more.
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The Essential Conference Call Features
There are some things you can’t live without. Sunshine and chocolate are two. The others are toll free, local and VoIP dial-in access for your conference calls. This ensures that no participant is left out regardless of geographic location.
Now let’s look at some other features that are more or less optional but are nice to have.
Email Notification, Calendar Integration & SMS
One pretty much essential feature invites people to attend a conference by email. We all have busy schedules today and these reminders help keep attendees on the ball. You can also give them a brief preview of what the conference is about.
For those that use Gmail, Outlook or similar online resource, the email reminder can also integrate into their calendars. Got someone really distracted? You can also ping them with an SMS reminder.
It’s hard to take detailed notes during a busy conference call. Instead, you should pay attention to the conversation. This is why recording is extremely helpful. You also might have organizational regulations that require conversation recording. Make sure you inform participants that you are recording the conversation.
Call History Detail
This feature lets you know at a glance things like timing of people joining, phone numbers and cost of conference. For employers, it might be useful to know who shows up on time. Also, the cost analysis helps you streamline your conference call use.
This feature prompts participants to record their name, and then they are announced when they join. It’s best if you can turn this feature on or off.
Maximum Number of Participants
The best conference call services allow you to have up to 100 participants or more. Really big numbers might be more for calling in to hear a speaker… or if you have a ton of friends. One hundred people talking at once can get kind of annoying, so play nice and take turns please.
Now this is a really nifty feature if you can get it. The conference call dashboard gives you real time data such as who’s connected and the name of who’s talking (in case you forgot). You can mute, unmute and even remove people from your conference. Need to call someone from your conference to get them involved? Do it directly from your dashboard. How cool is that?
When picking conference call features, consider your organization’s size and specific needs. Also, make sure your provider can meet your demands as you grow.
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V.H.C for myGC
When the recession hit in 2008, companies starting cutting costs by bringing down the number of face to face meetings. This eventually forced staff into using conference calls as an alternative mode of communication. However, most did not receive proper guidance on how to lead such calls and therefore have a lackluster approach towards them.
To be sure that your colleagues and bosses aren’t getting bored or multi-tasking during your call, these tips below will help you achieve the objective of your call.
Practice, practice, practice.
Always practice using the conferencing software that you intend to use for the actual call. Set up a practice call with yourself and learn all the features that come with the software. There is nothing scarier than not knowing how to use the software when you’re the host. Learn important functions such as muting and un-muting callers.
Always have a backup plan.
We all know how technology fail on us right at the very moment we need them. Always send the call’s agenda, dialing or webinar information way ahead of the actual call time. In the event that the software or hardware decides to fail on you, you can always guide your participants over to the documents you sent over previously.
If it’s a group, prepare a room.
If you’re part of a group that is supposed to be physically present together and host the call, prepare a room with a proper speaker telephone with enough speakers for everyone. Always test the speaker telephone one day before the actual call as well as other equipment such as projectors that you may need.
Well, not too early. Start the conference call at least ten minutes ahead of the actual call time so that you can welcome each caller as they dial in and take their attendance. Always ask whether all participants have received the information that you sent over previously and have them ready it.
Touch on basic etiquette.
To ensure that your call is successful, briefly run through some basic conference call etiquette to ensure that there wouldn’t be a caller who will unexpectedly derail it. Ask callers to put their phones on mute and avoid being in areas with a lot of background noise. They should only un-mute their phones when they have something to say and never ever put their phones on hold.
Mobile phones that are silent should be placed further away as any notifications will cause a loud buzzing sound. If the call requires strict attendance, let callers know that you will pause the call at any moment a person joins so that you can take their attendance. Inform callers to speak loudly and clearly with their name at the front so that everyone will know who is talking.
Use these five tips to lead an effective conference call and continue to build your knowledge by experiencing more calls. These tips here will help you kick off and ensure that your callers are engaged and actively participating in your call. Good luck!
Nigel Sim for myGC
A toll free conference call means free, right? Well not exactly. For someone dialing a toll free number, yes it’s free. For the conference call administrator though, there are user charges. This is the same for every conference call service. So what are the best ways to reduce costs? We’re glad you asked.
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Toll Free Still Has A Cost
When a person dials into a conference call they can do it one of two ways: through a local number or toll free. In both cases, the meeting administrator gets charged, but the administrative charge for toll free conference call services is higher.
Clients & Partners First – But Be Smart
Of course, you want to treat your clients and partners with kid gloves. If you organize a conference call, you’re not going to stick them with a big phone bill. So you give them a toll free number, right? Not so fast! If you also give them the option of a local call number, you could save money in conference call costs. Being generous doesn’t have to mean being wasteful.
Consider Your Options Carefully
In some cases, you might want to go with only local call in numbers. Most clients won’t be upset about this as local phone charges might be minimal or even zero. However, if your operation is global, you should consider giving participants a choice between local and toll free. In some countries, local calls might not be that cheap. When in doubt, it’s probably best to give clients a choice. Sending chocolates never hurts either.
Free – Free Option
In some cases, you can even get free dial-in without administrative charges. This can happen when people are calling in using a VoIP connection. Skype, GTalk or WebRTC are examples of this type of internet call in. For some international users, these platforms are the method of choice since it keeps their costs low.
Some providers allow you to have a limited number of users that can dial-in for free over VoIP without any administrative charge. After you exceed this limit, a charge kicks in, but it’s still usually much lower than the local or toll free administrative costs.
Toll Free Is Still The Standard
In nearly every business situation, if you are hosting a conference call, the toll free option is the standard. If you go with a provider that can’t offer this service, then you probably should look elsewhere.
Business partners and clients expect this type of courtesy, so give them what they want. That said, you still might be able to save some money by offering simultaneous local and VoIP connection options.
Want a conference call service that gives you local, toll free and VoIP options? MyGlobalConference gives you more choices. Get connected with us today.
V.H.C for myGC
Our most heartfelt thanks for a great 2016 and wishing you an amazing 2017, filled with joyful…conference calls 🙂
from the whole myGlobalConference team!
Have great conferences!
So your company needs conference call services, right? But what’s with all the strange terminology like “admin” and “dial-out”? Why can’t they just speak plain English? Well don’t worry. We’re here to demystify the jargon for you.
Sometimes conference calls are identified by other names. So if you hear confcall, teleconference or audioconference, they’re all talking about the same thing. Basically it’s more than two people on a phone call at once.
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Now let’s take a look at the conference call terminology.
The Admin is the administrator, or organizer, of the conference call. This is also the one that receives the conference call billing. The Admin typically has more control over the call, such as inviting participants or muting users. Some systems refer to the Admin as the conference moderator or manager.
A feature that allows you to record a conference call for playback later. Some systems also allow you to download and share the recording.
Every conference call has a dial-in number. This is a phone number that connects you to the conference call. Conference call providers have sets of phone numbers that can be used for dial in. In many cases, dial-in numbers can be set up to be local numbers or toll free.
No this isn’t calling out for pizza or sushi. When an Admin dials-out, this means they call someone outside of the conference to ask them to join the call. This is typically an Admin only capability.
This means that participants get invited to a conference call by email. The email usually has all the details about the call, such as subject, date, time, dial-in and PIN code.
Local Access Number
These are the dial-in numbers to access a conference call. Most providers have access numbers in many countries to avoid international phone call charges.
After a participant dials into the conference call system, it asks for a PIN code/number (also known as the Access Code, Conference Code, Conference ID, Participant Code, etc.). This may be requested for by a message that says, “Enter in Conference.” Every conference call has a unique PIN number that lets you access the call. The PIN number should not be confused with the dial-in number.
Reservationless or Permanent Conference
This is like having your own conference call ready to use at any time, over and over again. The Admin has their own PIN code and another one is available for participants to use at any time. Too bad you can’t have this at your favorite restaurant!
This type of meeting has a set start time for invited participants. The PIN code is unique to this conference only and expires when the meeting ends.
VoIP Conference Access
Instead of calling from a telephone line, some participants might choose to access the call through an Internet based connection (Skype, Google GTalk, Web RTC Dialer, etc.)
So there you have it! All the confusing terms explained. Now you can sound like a pro when it comes to conference calls.
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V.H.C for myGC
Conference calls seem all so amazing when you think about the benefits they bring to your business or meetings. However, when you think of the issues that could well come along with setting up or running one, you will soon realize that participating or organizing a call can be quite challenging.
There are a number of things that you will have to include in your plan to avoid making your call a complete flop. Here are five things you should be absolutely prepared for.
- Audience Management
Conference calls only make use of one of your senses – Hearing. You aren’t able to see the people you’re talking or listening to. Unless you keep track of each new caller or leaver, you will definitely be unaware of who your audience are.
We term noise as anything else that comes from a caller apart from their voice such as typing, machine, road and even paper crushing noises. You get these noises mostly with callers who use a microphone in a device during the call that is multi-directional and very sensitive, such as one you will find in a laptop. The only way you can stop this problem from occurring is to let callers know the etiquettes of a conference call such as muting when it’s not time to speak, prior to joining.
- Playing Music on Hold
This is definitely a no-no. People love tuning their phones to suit individual needs. Although it would be nice to let callers that are placed on hold to listen to some Beethoven, this should be made criminal if done during a conference call. Some call participants may decide to put the conference call on hold while attending to something else. However by doing so with music, they would only be adding unwanted ambience to everyone in the conference call.
- Call Leadership
Things can go array quickly if the call does not have a leader. Call leaders are important especially during calls that involve sensible matters where there might be more than one holding the reins. The call leader should ensure that everyone is given ample time to speak and given necessary attention when it calls for it. They should also be able to smooth out any conflicts or topic straying that may arise during the call.
- Call Materials
References to documents are often made during conference calls. Sending out erroneous documents or information to participants, can lead to callers being left in the dark on certain points and therefore causing them to lose interest in the call. Such documents and information should be checked and sent to all invited parties way before the call starts.
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We hope our simple tips above to improve your call, will help you along and we wish you all the best of luck!
Nigel Sim for myGC
When you set up a conference call, people might want to dial-in using a landline, cell phone or an Internet connection. The best platforms allow participants to use a variety of methods to access a conference call. Skype, GTalk and WebRTC Dialer are some useful options. Since it all looks and sounds like alphabet soup, let’s find out what each one means.
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Two Main Types of Access
There are generally two types of conference call access – by phone or by VoIP. Phone access is via a regular phone or smartphone. VoIP uses Internet technology to get you connected. The third type of connection – two cans connected by a string – is no longer used by modern companies.
Conference Call – Phone Access
Phone access can use a local dial-in number which means phone call charges apply. You might want to set up toll free access to make things easier for participants. Most businesses offer this option to maintain good client and partner relations. Sending flowers might be overdoing it though.
Conference Call – Skype Access
To use this type of access, you’ll need a Skype account. Users simply add the conference provider’s Skype ID (e.g. myglobalconference) to their list of contacts. When it’s time to join the conference, you just dial the contact. When prompted, you enter the PIN code and you’re in the conference.
Conference Call – Google GTalk Access
This is very similar to conference call Skype access. You just add the provider’s Gmail (e.g. email@example.com) to your Gmail contacts. When you want to access a conference call, you just click on the ID in your GTalk menu which opens up a chat box.
Next, click the list phone call icon to “call computer” and audio instructions will play. When the voice tells you, type the conference code in the chat box and you’re in. If the voice tells you that you should run naked in the street, ignore it.
Conference Call – WebRTC Dialer
This free connection lets you access conference calls from your web browser. Audio in these cases might even be better than regular land lines. You’ll need a WebRTC compatible browser, like Chrome, Firefox or Opera.
With one click you access the free web dialer (mygc.co/dial). Then enter your conference access code, click “Dial your Conference” and a dialog box will open on top of your browser. Make sure you allow your browser to access to your microphone.
As you can see, there are many ways to access conference calls. This allows you to offer participants a choice. During any call, you could have people participating using several different access methods. Everyone’s happy since they get to choose!
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V.H.C. for myGC
If you’re currently on a conference call and you’re reading this, trust me, you’re not alone. It turns out that many have admitted to doing just about anything other than listening closely to what’s said during the call. Let’s be straightforward here, it takes a very talented person to keep everyone engaged in a conference call when only voices are heard, with no visuals. In fact, more than a quarter of those surveyed admitted to falling asleep during a call.
Now this might not sound surprising to you but in case it does, most of us now own at least one mobile device that is capable of participating in conference calls. Since almost everyone is mobile and not confined to a table to take the call, this then backs the question: What exactly are people doing while on conference calls?
Here are some responses worthy of mentioning:
“I was hiking”
“Having a BBQ at my backyard”
“Trying on clothes in a fitting room”
“At the beach working on my tan”
We ventured on a journey to research and find out what people are actually doing. So now we proudly present to you: The 5 things people have admitted to doing while on a conference call. Thanks to the magical mute function on our phones, we can now conveniently carry on with what we’re doing while still being “present” in the call. Yes we’re referring to you guilty people reading this and pretending to be surprised.
- Working on something else
Well not surprising, everyone can multitask right? Two-thirds of those surveyed have admitted that one of the biggest opportunity to get two things done at a time is during a conference call. While overachieving is a good thing, we don’t encourage it as you might unknowingly become too distracted and whatever you are doing plus the call, becomes ineffective.
Surprisingly, more than three out of five people have admitted to emailing while on a call. Although it might sometimes be necessary, you shouldn’t do so unless you can type, read and pay attention to the call at the same time. Otherwise, you will soon find out in your sent items that your email wasn’t as well drafted as you thought it was.
If your mouth is filled with peanuts, you aren’t contributing that much are you? However this is one of the riskiest things to be doing while on a call especially if you’re active and worse still, forgot to put the mute on. Imagine a scenario where you are munching away on your tuna sandwich and suddenly your boss asks for your opinion. Swallow, spit, or chew?
No we’re not talking about squeezing stress balls or hand springs, we’re talking about treadmill stuff. Yup that’s right, exercising while on a conference call. I don’t know about you, but when I’m on a treadmill I can hardly breathe! Much to our surprise, some people have reportedly gone for a jog on a treadmill, workout on a bike or even lifting weights while on a call!
- Taking another call
By far the best that we’ve heard, this brings multitasking to a whole new level. People have admitted to taking another call while staying on the conference and we don’t mean short calls, we mean really long calls and holding both handsets to each ear, that kind of stuff.
Here’s a pro tip for you from experience: Let participants in the conference call know that you are expecting a very important call soon. So when they ask for your opinion and you don’t respond, they won’t think that you have already fallen asleep on them.
How to keep your participants engaged
As the moderator of the call, always try to engage users by asking questions to prevent participants from wandering off. This will also make callers feel that their presence matters and are not just listeners. Get emotions into your speech to make things sound a little more exciting, always try to put back what the phone lines have removed even if you’re at the beach.
Nigel Sim for myGC