by Aliza Sherman
Hi there, The Digital Marketer here, ready to help you put the power of the Internet and technology to work for your business.
Are you struggling to set up a conference call for yourself and several other callers but can't afford pricey conference call systems? I've got a few great Web-based solutions for you to consider.
I haven't always needed to organize conference calls -- I'm more often one of the participants on a call -- and the calls are usually coordinated by big corporations through fancy conference call systems. So what about the rest of us? Now that I am needing to set up conference calls myself, I've been searching for affordable solutions. How can small business owners set up professional conference calls without incurring a major expense?
Using Your Computer for Conference Calls
My favorite conference call solution is Skype at s-k-y-p-e dot com. If you haven't gotten your free Skype account yet, what are you waiting for? Skype offers Voice over Internet Protocol technology to place calls, or VoiP, which is just a techie way of saying that you can your place calls over your Internet connection. So free, of course, is relative to whatever you're paying to be online. However, there are no additional fees for your basic Skype account when you call anyone in the world whose also using Skype.
The downside of Skype is that not everyone has it and not everyone is comfortable downloading new software onto their computer. With Skype, fees are incurred once you start calling people on their phones. Still, the Skype software makes it easy to conference everyone into a single call.
Is Free Really Free?
If Skype is too "high-tech" for you or the people you're trying to conference with, you can go to the old fashioned telephone with sites like Rondee at r-o-n-d-e-e dot com or Calliflower at C-a-l-l-i-f-l-o-w-e-r dot com.
Rondee, for example, makes coordinating conference calls easy -- you just create a free account and start inviting people for a call. Rondee sends out the email invitations for you and tracks the responses. You can record your calls for free and set up recurring calls. You can even integrate your call schedules with Outlook or iCal calendaring systems. The Rondee Now service offers reservationless conference calls so you could set a up a call right this minute without having to "reserve" a thing.
Calliflower adds a few more bells and whistles to your call including a great Web interface that allows you to view whose on the call. Each person shows up with an icon. You can also simultaneously take advantage of Calliflower's live, real-time text chat where you can embed links to point call participants to websites, images, videos, anything they need to see while you're having the conversation.
While sites like Rondee, Calliflower and others like FreeConference.com do offer the conferencing system for free, each one does require that all the participants call in using a toll number. That means everyone on the call gets access to all the handy conference call tools for the cost of a long distance call. Some of these services will provide you with a toll-free number for your calls but it's going to cost you.
Cool Uses for Free Conference Call Systems
When you are looking at different conference calling sites, don't just think about using them for traditional conference calls.
- You can hold a teleseminar. A site like Calliflower let's you invite others to be in the "audience" instead of being being participants of a call. You can then present a seminar via the phone and by using Calliflower's Web interface, your audience members can even raise their virtual hands to ask a question.
- You can make a podcast. I've recommended sites like Utterz at u-t-t-e-r-z dot com to do quick and dirty podcasts from a telephone. You can also use Rondee or Calliflower's free recording to generate MP3 files that you can link to from your site or blog.
Bottom Line: Conference call services on the Web offer a variety of solutions ranging from free to low cost to help make your conference calls easy to set up, easy to manage, and easy to record. Easy and free? Now that's smart business!
That's all we have time for today. Visit the show’s website at digitalmarketer.quickanddirtytips.com for links to all of the sites mentioned in the show. If you'd like to ask a question or request a topic for The Digital Marketer, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a message by calling 206-339-6279.
By the way, The Public Speaker's Quick and Dirty Tips for Improving Your Communication Skills, is now live and featured at iTunes! Get your free subscription to yet another helpful Quick and Dirty Tips podcast.
The Digital Marketer's Quick and Dirty Tips for Building Your Business With Web Tools is part of the Quick and Dirty Tips network at quickanddirtytips.com. Tune in for another business boost from The Digital Marketer, the host who's not afraid to go under the Internet's hood & get a little dirty!
Rondee - http://www.rondee.com
Calliflower - http://www.calliflower.com
FreeConference.com - http://www.freeconference.com
Dimdim - http://www.dimdim.com
PalBee - http://www.palbee.com