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In today's globalized economy, with more business being conducted across different timezones, like me you've probably noticed that the number of conference calls you need to engage in has increased dramatically.
This is simply because you frequently have to interact with people in different geographic locations.
Thankfully, there is no shortage of services that are available that make conference calls simple and cheap, and don't require any special equipment or calling plans from your phone provider.
Here are 6 conference call services that may be of use to you.
- FreeConference . Although I'm not based in the United States, when doing conference calls with people in the US, this is my service of choice. Although the free service doesn't offer a toll-free dial-in number, I've found that so many people and businesses in the United States have flat-rate nationwide calling that a toll-free dial-in number isn't really needed.
- SaveOnConferences . This UK-based conference call service is itself free - participants pay only the cost of a call to an 0844 number.
- FreeConferenceCall.com . Another free conference call service, FreeConferenceCall.com is available in the United States and in 10 European countries, including the UK, France and Germany.
- WebEx . WebEx, which is now owned by Cisco, is one of the leading conferencing solution providers. While it's not free, it offers lot of features that may be important to you, including the ability to share your desktop with participants.
- GoToMeeting . Like WebEx, GoToMeeting offers more than just conference calling. It offers a full set of online meeting features, including collaboration tools and recording/playback.
- BroadData Conferencing . If you're looking for an international toll-free or local dial-in service, BroadData Conferencing provides it in a number of countries.
- Test a few out. In my experience, call quality can differ greatly so be sure you're getting the best quality possible.
Determine what features are most important. What do you absolutely need and what can you live without?
Paid services typically offer some very nice features, but if you're not using any of them regularly, committing to a paid service may not be cost-effective and at most, you use a free service for regular conference calls and a paid service on a pay-per-use basis when additional features are needed.
Don't get hung up on free vs. paid. Most of the free conference call services have an intro message when a participant dials in (i.e. "...a free service provided by FreeConferenceCall.com").
You might be inclined to use a paid service because you worry that such a message may make you look less "professional" when participants call in, but in my opinion the free services are used so much that nobody really notices. As such I personally advise that you shouldn't necessarily use a paid service just to avoid these messages.