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Keeping Connected with Online Conference Calling

Email drives business communication. Sometimes, however, email just doesn't provide enough immediacy to get the job done. In many situations, there is no substitute for live communication.

But with clients and collaborators all over the world, it's important to find ways to communicate live as a group without losing money to global business travel, not to mention the need to reduce our carbon footprints. Conference calling is the cost-effective - and green - solution to making those live connections. The Internet comes to the rescue by providing some affordable choices for conferencing.

There are several services available that offer free and low cost communication solutions to help solve your collaboration conundrums. and are two that immediately come to mind.

Simply go to the site, and you can sign up for conference calling on the spot. You'll be issued a dedicated phone number and access code(s) for use by call participants. Unless you choose to foot the bill by choosing a plan that issues you a low-cost (800) number, remember that in most cases those calling in to the conference call are charged applicable toll charges.

Most companies are quite clear about the features of their plans so it's important that you know your needs based on these variables in order to choose the right fit for your business:

  • Number of callers per call
  • Number of hours of conferencing available
  • Whether calls need to be scheduled ahead of time or can be spontaneous
  • Availability of a post-conference summary

Unless you require more specialized features, most any low-cost conference call company can satisfy your needs at a pain-free price. Most plans offer low-cost upgrades if your needs should exceed those offered in their free plans.

When Leisa Watkins, creator of went in search of a way to conduct conference calls for her business, she had very specific criteria in mind. In addition to the variables already mentioned, Leisa considered some other factors unique to her needs.

Because Leisa's site provides interviews as audio content, she needed to be able to record and download the conference call content. Conference calling services often can be used to record content and will convert the recordings into MP3 files for your online archive.

When Leisa selected a company to help her make conference calls, she chose one with both an online interface and the ability to manage the call via telephone should she be away from her computer. While you may not use conference calls to create audio recordings like Leisa, her experience at being at the helm of these calls has provided her with some insight that may benefit you as you navigate the different options offered

Leisa's conference call management system gives her the ability to:

  • Easily see who is on the call
  • Start and stop recording with the click of a button
  • Lock the call so no one else can enter it
  • Be notified when participants have questions
  • Associate a name with each participant's phone number
  • Call out to individual participants during online meetings

Whether your needs are simple and straightforward or a little more specific like Leisa's, it's easy to find a company and a plan to suit your needs. Conference calls provide that extra level of detail for your communications giving you a platform for immediate feedback, team collaboration and the ability to more clearly express ideas. You can easily have a virtual meeting without the cost of a business trip! Put technology on your side to connect with your team and your clients.

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