Conference Call Services and More
Empty conferencing room
Conference Calling Services and Webinars in 2013
Conference calls, webinars, webcasts, online meetings, and video conferencing. They all have one common purpose. To allow for communication from anywhere in the world using nothing more than a telephone or computer. But which services work the best? What is new in 2013? Are standard conference calls using only a telephone obsolete?
First off, there are a wide variety of opinions on which conference calling or online meeting service is the best. Every user has their own unique needs when it comes to conference calls, webinars, and online meetings. This is why many companies use several different providers.
Here is an example. Mister Big Distributing (made up name) has over 1,000 employees and several different department heads who have varying communication needs. The CEO wants to have a conference call with all of the higher ups in the company. The VP of sales wants his sales managers to hold trainings for their sales reps located throughout the U.S. Meanwhile, the CFO of the company wants to have a monthly meeting to discuss the companies financial matters.
The CEO is an older gentleman and wishes to have a standard conference call using a telephone where participants dial in and talk on the phone. The VP of sales wants to use a service that includes video conferencing and desktop sharing. While the CFO wants to have a conference call, but wants certain features like toll free access, call recording, and an online user interface to monitor the call. He also is concerned about security and wants a feature that allows for caller ID to identify callers by name.
Many companies offer conference calls with all of the needs that the CEO has. But the
VP of sales is going to need to use something like GotoMeeting or Webex. Then there is the CFO who has some very specific requirements, but probably can use a standard conference calling service with some updated calling features.
So as the empty conference room remains empty, the virtual conference rooms fill up daily. The companies save time and money by using these services and benefit from more frequent and engaging meetings using conference calls and online meeting services.
Technology in 2013
In today's world of evolving communications technology, there is something for everyone. No matter what your desire, there is usually a company that offers what you need. In 2013 one of the biggest trends in conferencing is the use of HD video so that participants can see each others facial expressions, gestures, and really engage each other during a meeting. The other big trend is for people to use their tablets and smart phones which allows for great flexibility when joining a meeting. Most devices have a camera which makes it easy to use video during a meeting.
It is also easy to set your smart phone up to auto dial into a conference call using the dial in number and then entering a couple pauses followed by your user pin code. This makes joining a call easy since you don't have to remember your pin code or other information. The only drawback is that many companies have policies that prohibit the use of mobile devices in the office. So most likely this option is best for those traveling or who work remotely out in the field.
As I mentioned, many companies don't want employees using their smart phones as the temptation to surf the web or text with friends is too great. Therefore, they often will use their pc for web meetings, or a standard audio conference call. This is why audio only conferencing is still very popular. Phones are reliable and everyone is able to dial a number and enter a code. No downloading software or enabling some sort of browser add on to properly join a conference. So the answer to "is audio only conferencing dead?" Not yet, and probably not for many years to come. Not everyone needs to have HD video feeds of each participant, and there is often no need for desktop sharing or presenting a PowerPoint when holding a quick meeting.
What service is best for you?
I have explained why conference calls and web meetings are used and why one company might utilize a combination of providers to meet the varying needs of their staff. But which service or services should you choose?
Remember that a conference call is reliable and easy to do in order to communicate without having to crowd into a room and sit around an oval table. A webinar is great for doing a large presentation and is appropriate for big companies wanting to promote their new product or service, or someone wanting to generate sales leads. An online meeting is perfect for training staff and sharing new information that requires desktop sharing or viewing a video while getting feedback from participants.
We have all seen the commercials on TV for GotoMeeting and it is one of the most popular services out there, but you might be able to find a less expensive option that works just as well if you do a little research. Intercall is the largest conference call provider in the world, but often there are smaller companies that are willing to give you the same service at a lower price and provide better customer support when you need a customized solution such as having your audio recordings edited and converted to .mp3 files.
One company that goes above and beyond for their customers and often sets up unique platforms for conference calling and webinars is Global Conference Call.