|Conference Calling Service||Monthly Fee (Unlimited) - (# Participants)||Monthly Fee (Pay as you go)||Max. # of Participants||Intl Calls||Lecture Mode||Multiple Presenter Controls||Customer Rating|
|GoToMeeting||$39 (25)||Not available||25||Yes||Yes||Yes||97%|
|Free version available that allows up to 3 participants. Start your 30 Day free trial at GoToMeeting.|
|Conference Calling||$19 (15)||$0.02 / Minute / Caller||300||Yes||Yes||Yes||94%|
|Flat-rate, toll-free and operator-assisted conference calling. Local and toll-free international access in over 70 countries. 14 Day Free Trial.|
|Intercall||$29 (25)||$0.10 / Minute / Caller||125||Yes||Yes||Yes||93%|
|Manage your audio calls online, see who is speaking and share applications for true collaboration. Get 70% Off on Per Minute Audio Conferencing for Up to 125 Participants with Code WIN3 at InterCall.com|
|WebEx||$49 (25)||Not available||25||Yes||Yes||Yes||91%|
|Receive a call at the number you choose. Answer and you’re in - no dial-in, no passcodes.|
|Infinite Conferencing||$35 (15)||$0.03 / Minute / Caller||100||Yes||Yes||Yes||90%|
|Global service to support you anywhere in the world. Reservation-less and operator-assisted solutions.|
|StartMeeting||$19.95 (50)||$0.039 / Minute / Caller||1000||Yes||Yes||Yes||88%|
|Connect up to 1000 callers with reservationless audio conferencing. Manage conferences via a web browser with one-click web controls. Start 30-Day Free Trial at StartMeeting.|
All of the above conference calling services offer web controls, survey capabilities, document sharing, and the ability to record and replay meetings.
Online Conference Calls: How they Work and the Benefits
Conference calls are important for businesses of all sizes – bringing together employees, vendors, and customers in one place to hash out problems or come up with new ideas is crucial. Rather than finding the time and place to bring everyone together, online conference calls make the process simple. With the touch of a button, everyone can “meet” online and have the same meeting they would have had in person. The difference is that no one is inconvenienced by the need to travel or to change their schedule – the conference calls are scheduled around everyone’s available timeframe and conducted from the comfort of their own office (or home office if that is the case). This is the perfect solution for companies that have employees spanning the globe as well as those companies that have time sensitive information that needs to be shared now, rather than waiting for an in-person meeting to be able to be scheduled.
The Types of Web Conferencing
There are many different ways that you can host a conference online; you can strictly use your computer and participate in instant messaging or “chats” or you can get more sophisticated and use video streaming and the ability to virtually share documents. The latter type of conference call is the same basic idea as having an in-person conference as everyone can see one another and share pertinent documents to get the job done. Some programs still utilize the telephone, which is needed to transfer the audio portion of the call; in some cases, however, a microphone on the computer will work as well. Each type of web conferencing is simple and effective, allowing you to conduct the important conversations that need to be had while catching everyone when they have a few moments to talk.
Every online conference call needs a host – you can purchase your own programs and host them yourself or you can utilize one of the many free or inexpensive programs online that host for you. If you are hosting, you will need the software installed on your computer in order to begin the call. Many programs also require the attendees of your conference to install a plug-in on their computer in order to join your conference call. This only needs to be done once, then they are always able to join the meetings that you invite them to join.
The numerous free programs that are available allow you to start a conference call or even schedule one for in the future, providing each attendee with a digital code that they must enter in order to gain access to the meeting. This makes it possible to keep your meetings restricted to only those that you invite, allowing you to be ensured that your information is being kept private. Depending on the service that you are using, you will then be able to talk, IM, share files, and see the other people at the meeting, making your conference call efficient and productive.
There are numerous services available with each online conference call service. If you need to show a Power Point presentation in order to get your point across, many services enable this service, while others offer the use of a white board that enable you to write down ideas that are shared, similar to the way you would at an in-person meeting. You can also share documents, or share your screen if you need to showcase a new program that you need others to understand or show a specific document that is on your computer. Many of these programs are available as a mobile app as well, enabling those that are on-the-go to join in the meeting wherever they may be at that time.
The Perfect Answer to Telecommuting
Today, a majority of businesses have employees that telecommute. This could mean that the employees are local or located half-way across the world. This could make the logistics of a conference call difficult, if not impossible. With online conferencing, the logistics portion of the conference call is eliminated, which can save time, headaches, and money. There is no need to figure out travel plans, disrupt a large portion of an employee’s work day or even week or to spend money on travel. Everyone can schedule their day around the specific meeting and simply be present at a computer at that time. If a program is used that offers a mobile app, then the employee can even be out in the field and participate in the conference call. This makes telecommuting much more efficient and productive as there is no worry about needing to get into the office time and again – anyone can chat at any time.
How Web Conferencing Works
In order to get a web conference started, the organizer will need to send out the details of the meeting via email. This email will show the date, time and location of the meeting (meaning the online location). This location will be delivered as a link for the attendees to click on at meeting time. The link will require the user to put in a password or special code that is provided in the email in order to securely join the meeting. The organizer will have a control panel that can tell who has logged into the meeting (if they are doing strictly audio) and who they are still waiting to join. Once everyone has joined, the meeting can begin. If someone gets interrupted or someone joins halfway into the meeting, it can still be conducted as normal. Web conferencing is typically limited to a certain number of people, depending on the program and company that you are using, but most companies enable the ability to take turns presenting information as needed.
Every online web conferencing tools offers different features. In addition to file sharing, video streaming, and screen sharing, some companies offer the ability to transfer files that can be directly downloaded on each attendee’s computer. This would be similar to passing out documents that are pertinent to the meeting at an in-person conference. You can send the files before the meeting begins or while it is being conducted, depending on your needs. This helps everyone to be on the same page during the meeting and allows them to be prepared. Many programs also offer the ability to mute attendees if there is a lot of background noise. This is necessary when there is one presenter and no feedback is required at that point in the meeting. Of course, if you are all talking collaboratively, mute will not be an option.
Online conference calls are the conference calls of the future. The efficiency, productivity, and money savings that they offer make them the answer for almost any company. Getting everyone on board periodically is the perfect way to keep a company with telecommuting employees, vendors, and clients all over the globe informed and satisfied. The process is very simple to conduct and makes it easy for everyone to stay in touch at any given time with the appropriate documents and programs at their fingertips, making business easy to conduct all over the world today.