Connecting with People Series: Part 1 – The Simple Conference Call

At the heart of communication and telephony is the ability to connect people. This three part series is designed to explore the ways this can be done using technology and some good practice, ensuring matters are kept as simple, efficient and inexpensive as possible.

During my recent holiday, I took some time out to remain in touch with the office and some clients. Being too scared to open my laptop or inbox, I utilised conference calling to communicate and collaborate with others.

I was thus reminded of the simplicity of the audio conference bridge, often just referred to as a conference call (or teleconference). A conference call is something many people will have taken part in, but not necessarily have set-up or initiated. Let me check your clarity on these three parts:

Conference Phone

This is a phone that is designed specifically for conference calls, normally it has a premium loudspeaker, and often is has external or extension mics as well. You do NOT need a conference phone to have a conference call, but a conference phone is invaluable in a dedicated meeting space where you might have three or more people involved in your end of the call.

Conference Call

This is the call itself, which can be initiated by a particular person, or where everyone dials into a number to ‘join’ (more on this below). Very quick and straightforward ad-hoc conference calls can often be initiated on a handset level. Nowadays, both my mobile and my desk phone allow me to instantly bring in a third or even fourth party onto a call if I want to.

Conference Bridge

This is a service where you get given (and share) a particular telephone number, room number and possibly even a pin code to dial when the conference is due to start. You can do this from your conference phone, desk phone or mobile phone, and is the most common method for most to have a conference call. Here though is where I wanted to share a couple of top tips (and services) that I recommend to family and friends:

WhyPay.net

This is a handy service that requires no sign-up and an instant dedicated room for you to use. It also uses a 03 number for the connection, instead of a 08 number like other services, so you won’t be charged premium rates, and it will even be included in your mobile phone calling plan within the UK.

FreeConference.com

This service requires a sign-up but has many more features, including the ability to moderate as needed. This is particularly useful for large conferences where you might want to ‘control’ the call a little more. It is also accessible via a 03 number, so the call will once again be ‘included’ in any call packages, or charged at a local rate otherwise.

3CX

Our Private Hosted platform uses 3CX as one of its core components, and inbuilt into 3CX is a dedicated conference bridge. We can configure this with a local, international or free-phone number of your choice, so your clients can access your conference facilities any way you like. It also comes with call recording, video, screen sharing and a host of other features. However, that is the topic of the next article in the series: Video Conferencing, Screen Sharing and Webinars, which I plan to write next week.

As always thanks for reading.

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Richard works at The Technology Group and is part of a great team that provide business communication tools and solutions to the SMB and Enterprise markets. We would love to talk to you more about how we can help you and your business with the tools needed to improve communication and collaboration with your clients and your team.

This article was originally published by Richard on Marsden.Blog and contains his thoughts and opinions. Richard is also available on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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