Conference Call Basics for Attendees
Participating in a group audio conference for the first time?
Here's what you need to know to ensure a successful group conference call.
Group Audio Conference Attendance
First, you'll need to know what time, in local time, you want everyone to call into your group conference call. It's common these days for group calls to include international guests.
The call's start time might be expressed in GMT, UTC, or the host's own time zone. Even domestic calls can involve multiple time zones.
A time zone map can assist to convert the time to local time to make sure that you know exactly when to dial in.
Next, you'll need to know how to join the group audio conference.
The call's chairperson will send you the phone number along with a PIN or access code.
If the call is an international group conference call, you'll be issued a phone number that is local to your country. From there, your call will be routed to the main group audio conference.
You'll be prompted to enter the PIN or access code. Once confirmed, you will be connected to the group.
Greeting the Group
Depending on how the group audio conference is set up, an automated voice might announce that you have entered the room.
If not, you could briefly announce your arrival. In either case, you should be able to hear the moderator or music leading up to the start time.
Muting and Unmuting Your Phone
Imagine a group audio conference with 100 participants, each with an unmuted phone.
The background noise would be unbearable! Do your part by muting your phone until called upon to speak.
If you have a mute button on your phone, use it. If not, most group audio conferences support keypad muting and unmuting (usually *6).
Speaking During a Group Audio Conference
Whether you've been asked to give a presentation during the conference call or have a question during the Q&A portion, advance conference call services allow your group members to speak slowly and clearly.
If it's an international group conference call, this becomes especially important as second language listeners may have trouble. In addition, other participants may be taking notes. Repeat important information such as phone numbers and URLs.
Participating in a Group Audio Conference
Though no one will know if you call in from home in your pajamas, your full participation is expected.
This is not really the time for multitasking even though it's easy to be driving and talk on a cell phone.
It's a good idea to have some way to take notes and conference call services are intended to help you give the group call your complete attention.
Listening to Recorded Group Conference Calls
Many teleconference moderators record group audio conferences and then distribute them for later listening.
These calls typically arrive as MP3 files which can be listened to on a variety of devices including computers, tablets, smartphones, and MP3 players.
Some conference hosts post the recorded teleconference on their website and will send you a link.
As with any other potentially sensitive or confidential information, use care to ensure that only those authorized to hear the call have access to the recording. However if the information is not sensitive, many customers use the MP3 as a marketing tool on a website without any restrictions.
An advantage of listening to a conference after the fact is that you can take notes at your leisure instead of trying to capture everything as it happens.
Participating in a group audio conference is straight forward and easy even with international participants.
The moderator typically sends the guests the date and time to dial-in including their access number and a PIN.
All you need to do as the moderator is dial-in on that date and time, enter your chairperson PIN and meet your international or domestic teleconference guests in your conference room.
The Toll Free International Conference Call
With international conference calls, one person can join many people in various locations worldwide.
International businesses that are customer and vendor centric, must use powerful global telecommunication services. Global conference calling is the one service that engages many geographical locations all on the same call.
All participants are provided a dedicated local access number to join the conference call and these access numbers are located in over 100 countries.
The communications challenge
It can be a daunting task to find global communication services that are both economic and feature rich. VoIP communication services have become even more popular than the telephone for online collaboration. Of course, video conference users must view a device screen to participate as opposed to using only a telephone.
There are many features that attendees can enjoy while on a web conference. For example, document sharing, video images, white board, private chat, included free audio and many other applications.
Steps for Securing Your Conference Calls
Do you know who's attending your conference calls?
You should, but it's not unheard of for uninvited attendees to find their way in.
Name Announce Feature
One way to make it more difficult for someone to infiltrate you conference call meeting is to enable the ‘name announce’ feature. The option will prompt the attendee to say their name before they can enter the call. And their name would then be broadcast to everyone on the call. This is not 100% foolproof but would help mitigate someone intent on intruding on your call. Hopefully someone in your regular calls would be able to match up the voice with the name.
Use the online Live Meeting Viewer
If the call is sensitive and you know the phone numbers of your participants, you can use the caller ID list of the online call viewer that’s included with our plans. This enables the host of the call to see who is actually on the call, in real time. Any unknown caller ID’s could be easily spotted and terminated from the call quickly. The residual of this is that you would know the caller ID of whomever tried to enter your call.
For example, if you have a recurring conference call in the same virtual conference room with the same access and PIN numbers each week, it's conceivable that an attendee who's no longer welcome (such as a terminated employee now working for a competitor) could listen in. Use these steps to secure your conference calls.
Determine the Confidentiality Level of Your Conference
What will you be discussing? The confidentiality level of the call can serve as a baseline for how much security you should implement. For instance, if you're merely coordinating a tailgate party for the staff, your call won't need to be nearly as secure as a call discussing an upcoming merger.
Use Session-specific Access Numbers and PINs
The best way to secure a call is to use a session-specific access number and PIN. Since these won't be reused, you don't have to worry about participants listening in on future conference calls - because they won't have access to future calls. At the very least, you'll want to change access numbers and PINs whenever someone leaves the company.
Review Participant Lists Frequently
If you host recurring conference calls, make sure to review your participant lists frequently. Do these same participants still need to attend the conference call? Have any left the company? Have any of their roles changed? As you pare down the list, make sure to change access and PIN numbers.
Use the service options in the Web Interface, Roll Call Feature, or Online Conference Call Viewing Tool
Most teleconferencing service providers offer some sort of a Web interface, roll call feature, or online conference call viewer where you can quickly see a list of all attendees currently on the call. Refer to it before and throughout the call to ensure that you know exactly who's listening in. If a caller joins the conference call mid-meeting, you should hear a chime or an announcement alerting you to the new attendee. Pay attention and find out who just joined the call.
Review Your Call Summary Reports
If your provider generates a call summary report, refer to that after the call. If you used the online conference call viewer or other roll call feature during the call, the call summary's results shouldn't come as a surprise. However, if you were so involved in the call that you didn't have a chance to fully pay attention to the roll call, the call summary report will provide you with a complete list of all attendees.
Use the Conference Lock Feature
Once everyone is on the call and attendance has been verified, use the conference lock feature to lock anyone else out. Once the call is locked, no one else can join the call, even if they have the correct access number and PIN. Knowing that you regularly lock your calls will also help to encourage participants to be on time for future conference calls.
Use the Operator to Manually Connect Participants
Another option for securing conference calls is to give the operator a list of participants and have the operator manually connect them to the call. This can be time-consuming, but it ensures that only those who you've authorized to join the call will be allowed to enter it. Some conference calling service providers have an automated dial out tool you can use to preprogram dial out.
Use Moderator Dial Out, Especially for Guests
The moderator dial out option is a great way to bring participants into the call. This is similar to the operator dial out, except the moderator of the call initiates the dial out. If you have a few guests, using moderator dial out is a good way to connect them without having to reveal your call's access number or PIN.
Don't Hold Back-to-Back Conference Calls in the Same Conference Call Room
Did you know that if you use the same conference call room for two meetings in a row, it's possible for participants of either meeting to listen in to the other meeting? For example, if a participant from the first meeting doesn't hang up, that participant will still be present for the second meeting. Likewise, if a participant from the second call dials in a few minutes early, which is common, he or she will be joined to your current conference call. Again, pay attention to your roll call or live conference call viewer so that you know at any given time who's listening in.
If you must host back-to-back conference calls, use different conference rooms for each call.
Secure Your Conference Recordings
The ability to record and share your conference calls adds convenience, but may also pose a security concern if your conference call was highly confidential in nature. If you'll be recording the conference call, carefully consider who you share the recording with - if you share it all.
If you do share the recording, consider hosting the recording on a password-protected site, preferably one with a history tracking feature, so that only those with appropriate credentials can access the recording. You should also consider restricting downloads of the recording as well as making the recording available for a specific time only.
End the Call When the Moderator Exits
If your conference calling plan supports it, enable the option for ending the call when the moderator of the call hangs up. Once the moderator hangs up, all other attendees will automatically be disconnected from the call.
Just as you'd restrict access and find out who's physically present at a face-to-face meeting before you begin discussing confidential matters, the same is true of holding conference calls. Though you may not be able to lock the door or visually see each attendee in a teleconference room, modern conference call services include useful tools that allow you to limit access to the conference call and display who's in attendance.
Do you have team members, business partners, suppliers, or clients in India?
Collaborating with India utilizing International Conference Calls
International conference calls are one of the best communications methods available, allowing you to speak with a group from around the world without the costs of travel or complexities of videoconferencing.
However, hosting international conference calls with participants in India and around the world does have a few considerations.
Keep the following points in mind as you explore your India global conference calling options.
• Convenient access is essential. International participants may hesitate to dial an international access number in order to join an international conference call. For some, cost might be a concern.
For others, the unfamiliarity of the number may be enough to prevent them from dialing. For others, it could be a mix of both. In any case, participation could be lower than expected if you expect attendees to dial an international access number.
• Reliability and sound quality are crucial. If you’ve ever had a bad connection on a one-on-one call, you know how difficult it can be to understand each other. Now compound that bad connection with multiple callers. The quality of the underlying telecommunications network will directly influence the success of your call.
• Contracts can be good or bad depending on your needs. If you make a lot of India conference calls each month, it may make sense to sign a contract, but then again that could be a mistake as your needs and patterns change.
Getting out of a bad contract can also be frustrating, time-consuming, and expensive. Going with a no-contract plan is often a better choice, and it doesn’t necessarily mean paying higher rates or making sacrifices either.
Our pay-as-you-go global conference calling plans are an excellent choice for anyone who needs to collaborate with a geographically diverse group.
As far as convenient access goes, your participants can connect in various ways including:
• Toll free access numbers specific to India plus local toll access in Chennai
• Simple to dial and no cost to participants.
• Moderator dial-out - This is where you, the host, dials participants directly. They simply take the call.
• Free connect app - Our free optional Connect app can be used by both the moderator and attendees alike. It makes joining your India conference calls a simple matter of clicking a button on your network connected smartphone or desktop. When using the app, no dialing of access numbers is needed.
All of our global conference calls take place on a state-of-the-art PSTN network for the ultimate in clarity and reliability.
Say goodbye to muffled sounds, delays, stutters, and other sound quality issues and hello to your participants.
There’s no need to sign up for a long-term plan or sacrifice on features in order to get an affordable rate. The international conferencing calling industry is highly competitive, and our international conference calling plans reflect that.
They’re loaded with advanced features and have some of the lowest per minute rates available - and they’re offered with no contract, no monthly fees, no required minimums, and no penalties.
Finally, you’re not limited to India global conference calls. Our Expanded international conference calling plan has toll free access numbers for more than 100 countries and supports dial-out to nearly 200 countries.
Setting Up China Virtual Phone Numbers
With the world’s largest population and second largest economy, China is an attractive market for many businesses.
With its wealth of cultural riches and massive expanse of land, it’s also an enticing destination for tourists.
Whether you’re interested in China for business or pleasure, it may make sense to set up China virtual phone numbers at some point. Here’s what you need to know about setting up virtual phone numbers in China.
What China Virtual Phone Numbers Are
China virtual phone numbers are special international call forwarding numbers that are either toll free for China or local numbers specific to a China city like Beijing or Shenzhen.
To callers within China, these numbers appear and act local (but the call will connect to another phone in another country).
Callers in China using a toll free China virtual number will not incur any costs. Those using a Beijing or Shenzhen virtual number may incur local tolls, depending on their specific locations.
However, they will not incur the international long distance costs associated with the call. You, the account holder, pays these costs much like any other toll free or remote call forwarding number you may have.
What are China Virtual Phone Numbers are Used For?
You can use virtual phone numbers in China myriad ways.
Below are just a couple of examples:
• Create a toll free customer service hotline for your Chinese customers to call. If you market goods or services to customers in China, this is a great way to centralize your call center operations. Your call center could be located anywhere in the world.
• Provide a local number for your Chinese business contacts to reach you internationally. If you have partners in Shenzhen, get a Shenzhen virtual phone number and designate the ring to number to be your main office line or mobile phone number.
Whenever a partner needs to reach you, they could dial a local number and be automatically connected to you internationally without having to dial an international number or incurring international long distance costs.
Since you can change the ring to number as needed, they can reach you no matter where in the world you may be at any given time.
The ability to reach you quickly wherever you are could be valuable during negotiations or a crisis.
How to Get China Virtual Phone Numbers
We make getting a China virtual phone number easy - and there’s no long-term commitment required.
Our no-contract plans come with bundled minutes and advanced international call forwarding features such as: local ring tones, simultaneous ringing, advanced voice response and PBX features, select country call forwarding, customized greeting, sequential call forwarding, and more. Optional rollover minutes and automatic call recording are also available.
Simply choose your China virtual phone number, enter your destination number where you’d like your calls to be forwarded, pick a bundle of minutes, and place your order.
You get low per minute rates, exceptional call quality, and all the conveniences of a China virtual number with no contract and no penalties for canceling.
Own a Hong Kong Call Forwarding Number
Hong Kong Virtual Number Benefits
One of the world’s most densely populated metropolises, global trade hub, and financial center, Hong Kong beckons tourists and business professionals from around the world.
While nothing quite compares to visiting Hong Kong in person, you may find it inconvenient to set up a physical location or relocate your business to serve the market.
That’s where Hong Kong call forwarding may be a good substitute. Likewise, if you travel frequently, it may be beneficial to use virtual call forwarding numbers so that you can always be reached.
What are Hong Kong Call Forwarding Numbers?
Hong Kong call forwarding numbers are a special type of phone number that look as though the number belongs to a phone located in Hong Kong.
However, rather than ringing to a high-rise in Hong Kong Central, the number is actually remote call forwarded to a phone located anywhere in the world.
You could set your ring-to number to your bungalow in Oahu, a warehouse in Mexico, or a call center in the Philippines, or your mobile phone anywhere else in the world and you would receive your Hong Kong calls as if you were right there.
Our Hong Kong call forwarding numbers are a type of virtual number that come with advanced features, too. For example, you can set up your call forwarding number with an auto attendant and custom greeting.
It can act like a virtual PBX system as well, prompting callers to select an extension or press a number. Depending on your needs, you may want to activate the optional call recording feature which automatically records incoming calls.
Other features can be configured so that you can be reached in various ways.
For instance, you could set up simultaneous ringing, which would ring several different phones (like your office phone and cellphone) at once.
Sequential ringing is another option where the calls will go through a sequence of destination numbers in the order you designate.
You could also control how incoming calls from Hong Kong are handled based on the time of day they come in.
For example, you might want your assistant to handle these calls for a few hours in the morning or route calls to voice mail if it’s late at night.
How to Get Your Own Hong Kong Call Forwarding Number
It’s easy to sign up for your own Hong Kong call forwarding number, and you don’t need to commit to a long term. In fact, our plan is contract free, and there’s no cancellation fee.
We offer five levels: Basic, Value, Power, Premium, and Enterprise.
Each level comes with a predetermined number of minutes for the month, with additional minutes available at low rates should you need them.
Simply choose between a toll free or national Hong Kong call forwarding number and then pick the number of minutes you anticipate needed for the month ahead. Enter your default destination phone number, and click the “add to cart” button.
Getting a Hong Kong call forwarding number really is that simple, and our rates are extremely competitive.
A Guide to Using Virtual Numbers in the UK
If you have contacts in and out of the United Kingdom, consider using virtual phone numbers as an affordable way to communicate internationally.
When it comes to virtual UK numbers, you have several options.
Here’s what you need to know.
How Virtual Numbers in the United Kingdom Work
Virtual phone numbers are local or toll free numbers for a given region, such as the United Kingdom, but they are not tied to a physical phone or location.
In other words, you can set up your virtual phone number’s destination number to virtually any phone number in the world.
For instance, you could get a local virtual number for Isle of Wight, yet you could set it up so that calls go to your office in USA, Australia, South Africa, Hong Kong, or anywhere else in the world.
Our United Kingdom virtual numbers are international call forwarding numbers that come loaded with a variety of advanced features like: time of day routing, country-specific call forwarding, voicemail to email, fax-forwarding, simultaneous ringing, sequential ringing, voice greeting, and IVR / PBX functions.
All incoming calls are routed over PSTN networks, allowing for superior sound quality and reliability than VoIP.
You can also add optional features like automatic call recording, which is ideal for businesses and call centers, and rollover minutes, which allows you to keep any unused minutes for later use.
We offer our virtual phone numbers for UK on a month-to-month basis with no contracts and no cancellation fees.
Simply buy a month’s worth of minutes and enjoy competitive rates. The more minutes you buy, the lower your per minute calling rates.
Why Use Virtual UK Numbers?
There are many use cases for virtual UK numbers.
Below are just a few examples:
• Make it easier to receive international calls - If you serve customers in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland but are located outside the UK, giving your customers a toll free UK virtual number to call is ideal. They won’t have to dial an international number or worry about the cost of the call.
• Establish a UK presence - By getting a London virtual number, your business can appear as if it has an office in London. Meanwhile, those phone calls will be call forwarded to the destination number you’ve set up, which could be half a world away.
• Make cheap international calls while in the UK - Our virtual numbers have competitive per minute rates. When you’re in the UK, you could change your virtual number’s ring-to number to any number in the world.
Once changed, simply dial the virtual number and make a cheap international call. If you use this technique, your calls are routed over our PSTN network where call quality is exceptional. Make sure to change the ring-to number back to normal after completing your calls.
Managing the Costs of Kenya Global Conference Calls
Many international conference call rates are less than 9 cents per minute. For example, join a conference from Paris is 7¢ /min
Over a hundred country rates are in the single digits.
Holding a conference call with participants in Kenya where rates are much higher may have you concerned about the cost.
Use the tips below to better manage the costs associated with your Kenya global conference calls.
Identify Participant Countries with Higher than Expected Conferencing Costs
Kenya’s global conference calling rates on our plan are not the highest out there, but they are much higher than rates for countries like USA, Canada, Denmark, China, Iceland, and Germany. Use our list of global rates for the plan you have (Legacy or Expanded) to see if any of your participants are from countries with higher rates like Kenya, Zimbabwe, or Cambodia.
For each county with higher than expected rates, check to see if there’s a local access number that might be cheaper than the toll free access number. If so, and if it’s local to your participants, ask them to use the local access number.
If not, please know there’s a moderator dial-out option. Moderator dial-out rates are usually much lower than standard rates. For example, a Kenya global conference call using a toll free access number would cost you 38 cents per minute using December 2015 rates. That rate falls to 19 cents per minute if you dial your participants in Kenya using the moderator dial-out option.
Do the Math
Figure out how much your global conference call will actually cost. Remember, with our international conference calling plans, you pay as you go on a per minute, per participant basis. If you only have a handful of participants in Kenya and everyone else is from the United States or Canada where rates are just a few pennies, you may find that the total cost of your call is still quite low.
For example, let’s say you’re planning a 10-minute global conference call with 2 participants in Kenya and 12 participants in the United States. Here’s how your costs would break down based on current rates:
• 2 Kenya participants for 10 minutes at 38 cents per minute = $7.60
• 12 USA participants for 10 minutes at 2.6 cents per minute = $3.12
• Total cost 10 minute call with 12 attendees = $10.72
This will be lower if the chairperson uses the included leader dial-out feature and rings the Kenya numbers of the participants.
Determine if those participants are needed for the entire Global Conference Call
In the example above, the higher rate for Kenya isn’t that much of a factor in the overall scheme of the global conference call.
However, if you had dozens of participants from a high cost country, you might want to consider if it’s possible to limit their time on the conference call or ask if some could share a Polycom or speakerphone.
For example, if your participants in Kenya need to contribute to the discussion on a new ad campaign in Africa but are not needed when you switch gears to talk about a campaign in New Zealand, perhaps you could release them from the call once their relevant agenda item has been discussed.
With a little forethought and a great pay-as-you-go international conference calling plan, you can better manage your Kenya global conference calls to reduce their cost.
Conference Call Meeting with Cambodia Attendees
Enabling Access to International Conference Calls if your participants are located in Cambodia
Did you know that making international calls from Cambodia can cost you anywhere from $1.50 to $3.00 per minute (according to Tourism of Cambodia)?
As one of Asia’s poorest countries, expecting your Cambodia conference call’s attendees to dial an international phone number in order to collaborate with you in a group audio call is far from practical. After all, a 10-minute teleconference could cost each attendee in Cambodia up to $30.
If you want to improve attendance, you’ll need to find a better way for your Cambodian colleagues to participate in your international conference calls. Here’s what won’t work:
-Suggesting VoIP - Cambodia also has a very low Internet usage rate (less than 6 percent as of 2014), so your attendees may not have cheaper phone calling alternatives like VoIP or Skype.
-Using your company’s toll free number - While your company may have an 800 number or use a domestic conference calling service with toll free access, international callers cannot use traditional toll free numbers for countries beyond their borders.
Fortunately, we have a solution to all of your Cambodia conference calling woes - including access, cost, quality, and ease of use.
Using Our International Conference Calling Plans with Toll Free Access Numbers for Cambodia
First, you’ll want to sign up for our pay-as-you-go Expanded international conference calling plan which supports Cambodia and more than 100 other countries. With this no-contract conference calling plan, you can hold as few or as many conference calls as needed without penalties, monthly fees, or minimum requirements.
Best of all, we have toll free access numbers for Cambodia. This means that any participants located in any part of Cambodia can access the call by dialing a toll free number - even if the call is hosted elsewhere in the world. As the host of the toll free Cambodia conference call, your account will be billed per person, per minute, based on our low international conference calling rates.
Note that while Cambodia’s international telecommunications rates are notoriously high, our toll free rates are very competitive. However, they may be higher than you’d like, especially if you’re accustomed to calling countries with much lower costs like USA, Australia, Canada, or Spain.
Fortunately, we have an answer for that problem, too: moderator dial-out.
Using Dial-out to Keep Your Cambodia International Conference Call Costs Low
Our dial-out rates for Cambodia conference calls are a fraction of the cost of our toll free rates, making it worth considering using dial-out if you expect to use a lot of minutes. For example, if you 3 participants in Cambodia and your conference call is expected to run 20 minutes, that’s 60 minutes for which you’ll be billed. By using the moderator dial-out function to connect to those three callers, you’ll save more than $1 per minute - that’s more than $60 simply to program a few numbers before the call.
Both options can improve access to your Cambodia global conference calls. Which one is most appealing to you? We’d love to hear your thoughts on Facebook.