Virtual Global Phone Number Use While On Tour

How to Use a Virtual Global Phone Number When On an International Tour

Virtual Global Phone Number

Why you may need a Global Phone Number and a Mobile Phone

Mobile Phones can be used by a rock star, musicians, stage actors, dancers, performers, crew members, business professionals, military service members, or a world traveler, going on an international tour or any sort means extensive time away from home — and your loved ones. Mobile phones are wonderful tools that can help you stay in touch, but they don’t always work as expected from one country to the next. Plus, international roaming charges are likely to put a damper on your international phone conversations. Fortunately, a global phone number is a cost-effective solution that enables you to be reached by phone no matter where in the world you might be.

What is a Virtual Global Phone Number?

By being “virtual,” this type of phone number is not tied to any given physical phone line. Rather, you can change where the phone rings at any time, to any phone number. Since it is also a global phone number, this means that you can forward your calls to any phone in the world and take advantage of our low international call forwarding rates.

For example, if your family and friends are in the United States, you could get a toll free virtual global phone number for the United States and then set your “ring to” number to ring to your hotel phone in Paris, France. To your callers, it’s a typical toll free phone call. Behind the scenes, that call is forwarded over our modern fiber optic telecommunications network to your hotel room in France — bypassing the typical (and expensive) international long distance carriers that your calls would normally travel through.

The Flexibility of Using a Virtual Global Phone Number When On an International Tour

When on tour, you’re rarely in one place long. After a night in France, you could find yourself in Germany, Ireland, UK, or Switzerland before heading off to another country — or continent — a few days later. When you have a virtual global phone number, your callers don’t need to try to figure out where you are and how to reach you because they’ll always dial the same exact phone number every time. Instead, you’ll change the ring to number as you travel around the world.

Thus, an example ring-to strategy might look like this:

  • Paris, France: Ring-to number set as hotel room phone number
  • Berlin, Germany: Ring-to number set as a disposal cell phone purchased in Germany
  • Dublin, Ireland: Ring-to number set as a phone line at a temporary office space you’ve rented for the day
  • Nova Scotia, Canada: Ring-to number set as your personal mobile phone number
  • Iceland: Ring-to number set as your hotel phone number 

Using  a Virtual Global Phone Number to Make Cheap Calls Home

The ability to receive phone calls from home while on tour is reassuring; however, there will likely be times when you’d like to initiate the calls. Our contract-free global phone numbers work in the opposite way, too. For example, if you’re staying in Paris, France for a few weeks, it might make sense to order a global call forwarding number that’s local to Paris. That way, you could make a local call, but set the ring to number to the phone number of whomever you are calling — no matter where in the world they may be. Since our virtual global phone numbers are offered without a contract, they’re perfect for short-term use such as when a job, assignment, or tour requires overseas travel.

Learn more about Virtual Phone Number for International Use

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Expanded International Conference Call Plan

Can a participant join your conference call from their country?  

If you host a diverse conference call with guests in remote countries, network access numbers might not exist.  But this shouldn’t stop your call.

Expanded Global Conference Calls

The Expanded Plan includes in-country toll-free access in over 100 countries plus local access numbers in 50 worldwide cities.

In addition to convenient dial-in access methods enabling an attendee to login with either a local or toll-free number from inside their country, the Expanded Plan also gives the chairperson dial-out capability.

How does the dial-out option help you add inaccessible attendees to your call?

In a nutshell, the dial-out feature enables the leader to call out to any phone number globally without disturbing the meeting in progress.  This means the leader of the call can add a participant on demand in any country.

The attendee simply answers the inbound call to their phone and is immediately added to the call.

For instance, recently a customer based in New York had a project in progress in Ghana.  There is simply no easy way for the Ghana attendees to access the call.  So, the chairperson uses the Expanded Plan with the easy dial-out feature to add the Ghana guests to their weekly calls.  The other attendees located in the US and Kenya access the call using the supplied toll-free numbers.

In addition to the dial-out feature, the Expanded Plan also offers a free App that enables connecting to the conference room using any web enabled device such as iPhone, Android, Blackberry or a PC and MAC desktop.  The Connect App makes dialing in using traditional toll-free or local numbers unnecessary as long as the attendee has a WiFi connection.

Be careful with the company you choose

Some companies offer local international access numbers that you can give out to your global call participants but they may not work.

Bad, non working access numbers are obviously something you want to avoid especially on an important business conference call with a potential client, existing customer or with a regular team meeting call.  Some of the problematic services with non-working overseas access numbers are touted as cost free.  The saying is still true, you get what you pay for.

The Expanded Plan is an all inclusive, high powered, intercontinental business collaboration tool with global access numbers guaranteed to be operational 24/7.

In addition to the many methods of accessing your call, the chairperson can always reach a 24 hour U.S. based operator who will connect anyone, or fix anything required.

Learn more about the Expanded Plan here

 

 

 

 

 

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How to Host International Conference Calls

How to Host International Conference CallsTasked with hosting an international conference call? It’s not as easy to host international conference calls as it is to do so domestically for several reasons. First, you have time zone and language differences to contend with. Second, different countries have different dialing conventions and international calling costs. And third,  if you’re trying to do it with your office conference phone, it may not be able to handle a large volume of conference call participants.

Here’s how to host international conference calls with ease:

In addition to the normal method of accessing a conference via a phone, one very convenient free optional feature customers enjoy is to use the Connect App.  Essentially this is another option to access a conference call using a web enabled device.

The Connect App work from smartphones and PC’s or Mac desktops.

Connect tools let users quickly schedule, start/join and manage their audio conferences and Web Meetings.

These tools provide an option to have the bridge call the user instead of having to dial an access number, enter a passcode or chairperson PIN, saving time joining a call and avoiding incorrectly entered numbers for the Toll Free, access code or PIN.

These Connect tools also provide the same functionality to participants when the meeting is scheduled using the free Calendar Tool.   If you are also using Web Meeting, meetings can easily be started or joined from the same invitation/link.

1. Use a world time zone map or calculator to determine the best time for the majority of your call’s participants. It’s not always possible for all participants to attend your live call during local business hours. However, you may be able to find a time that works well for most attendees.

2. Choose a conference call service provider that specializes in helping businesses host international conference calls. Ideally, the provider you choose will support all of the countries involved as well as offer affordable rates. Keep in mind that some countries have higher international calling costs than others. To contain these costs, consider using the service provider’s “dial out” feature. By dialing participants directly, you will get a much lower per minute rate. Dial out can usually be pre-programmed so that those calls will be placed automatically by the conference calling system.

3. Choose local or toll free numbers for your participants’ countries. One of the biggest challenges you will encounter when you host international conference calls involves providing access to the conference room. This is because each county has its own unique calling conventions. A toll free number in the United States, for example, doesn’t work in Italy. The trick is to provide callers with either local or toll free numbers that work in their respective countries. These numbers will then connect to the global conference call.

4. Record the call. When you host international conference calls, there’s usually an option to record the call. By all means, do so. You never know when you might want to listen to it again or share it with others. For example, you may want to use the recording for training purposes or have the call transcribed and translated. Participants who were unable to attend the call in real time could listen to the call after the fact. Recordings are also helpful for those who speak a different language as a first language. By providing a recording of the call, they can go back and listen to sections that they had a hard time keeping up with originally.

When you host international conference calls, many challenges can be overcome by choosing a global conference call service provider that specializes in overseas teleconferencing. Choose wisely and your international conference calls are sure to be successful.

Learn more about hosting international conference calls here

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Global Conferencing Assignment of Roles

How to Determine Who Does What During Global Conferencing

Global Conference Calling Assignment of Roles

As the account holder of an international conferencing service, you may think that the entire task of hosting and moderating a global conference calls falls squarely on your shoulders. While you may be the host, you don’t necessarily have to do all of the work. In fact, it’s a good practice to assign different roles to different people. Below are the most common roles required and how to select the right person for each.

  • Global Conferencing Leader or Moderator — The leader or moderator of the call is responsible for running the conference call. This involves everything from scheduling the call, developing the agenda, inviting participants, assigning roles, keeping the conversation on track, assigning action items and responsibilities, summarizing the meeting, and following up after the call. As the account holder, you’ll often be the leader by default. However, you may have colleagues who want to take the lead. We can set up company accounts where each person has their own global conferencing credentials to host and lead their own international conference calls.
  • Time Keeper — One of the best practices of any meeting is to manage the amount of time spent on each agenda item. Consider tasking an individual to set a timer and nudge you when it’s time to move to the next agenda item. This allows you to perform your leadership duties without having to keep your eye on the clock the entire time. Since your time keeper will jump in when time is up, you won’t accidentally run over time. Who should you pick? Ideally, someone who is physically located in your same office. That way, you can sit side-by-side during the conference call and he or she can communicate the time limits non-verbally. If that’s not possible, ask a co-worker, your assistant, or another trusted person on your staff to take on this role. 
  • Secretary or Recorder — Many meetings require a written record, and this is true of many international conference calls as well. Even if not required, it’s a great idea to have someone take detailed notes to document the audio conference. While everyone in attendance can certainly take their own notes, if you let them know that someone is taking a master set of notes that will be shared afterward, this frees your participants from having to take notes. They may be more engaged as a result. Who should you select as secretary? Ask one of your co-workers who is known for his or her organizational or note-taking skills. The secretary should be prepared to help prepare and distribute the agenda, record any decisions, action items, or conclusions, and distribute the notes afterward.
  • Global Conferencing Interpreter — For international conference calls where two or more languages may be spoken, it might make sense to have an interpreter available. If someone in your office is bilingual, ask them to be available to translate or clarify phrases as needed during the audio conference. If not, consider using an over-the-phone interpreting service.
  • Global Conference Call Participants — Everyone in your international conference call has a role. Those not assigned a specific role such as leader, time keeper or secretary automatically fall into the participant role. Participants should be prepared to contribute their ideas and insights to the meeting. Who should you invite as a participant? Think about the purpose of the call and its relevance to potential participants. If it’s relevant, then they’re probably a good candidate for participation. If not, the call could be perceived as a waste of their time. The more relevant the call’s purpose to your participants, the more likely they’ll be engaged, active participants.

Assigning these key roles to members of your team can help ensure a well organized international conference call.

Global Conferencing Service Details

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Fax Forward Digital Faxes

Fax Forward Globally

Digital fax forwarding

Fax Forwarding Uses. When another business or customer wants to send you a fax, it’s tempting to say, “Can’t you just email me a PDF?” because of all the disadvantages listed above, but that shifts the burden to them. Fortunately, there’s a much better way that allows you to ditch the physical fax machine, dedicated phone line, and all of the associated hassles of faxing while still accommodating those who need to send you faxes: Fax forwarding.

Fax Forwarding Digital Faxes is one of the many free features included in our global call forwarding service. With this service, you can select a toll-free virtual phone number for your city, state, country — or any other country of the world, and use it to receive faxes. There’s no need for a fax machine, ribbons, ink, or paper because the faxes will be digitized and forwarded to your email inbox.

From the other party’s perspective, they simply place a document in their machine, dial your fax number, and hit the “send fax” button as usual. From your perspective, you receive a PDF via email. Now you can respond promptly from your desktop or mobile phone and there are no more worries about missed faxes.

Fax Forwarding Digital Faxes is ideal for global faxing:

  • Receiving orders or POs from overseas customers or suppliers
  • Receiving food orders at a take-out restaurant
  • Receiving health care orders
  • Receiving signed documents

Your forwarding number can do even more than just receive and forward faxes. You can also use it to receive voice calls from the originating country. For example, if you need to receive faxes from an overseas customer in Singapore, you’d want to order a global virtual forwarding number that’s local or toll-free Singapore and set up your email address to receive faxes. However, if you’d also like your customer in Singapore to have a convenient means of reaching you by phone, set up a “ring to” number (such as your office or mobile phone number) for voice calls. Now, your customer can reach you via phone without having to dial an international number. Your business will feel more local as a result.

Whether your business is established or just starting up, our contract-free virtual phone number services are an affordable choice that enhances communications.

Learn more about sending digital facsimile documents internationally

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International Conferencing Activities

Setting Ground Rules for Timing International Conferencing Activities

International Conferencing Activities and video conferencing are outstanding communications methods for global teams. They allow everyone, regardless of location, to meet virtually. If your team members are located in the same time zone, or in relatively close time zones, impromptu and scheduled conference calls are as easy as domestic ones. However, the further apart they are, the more complicated it gets. Few people are willing to set their alarm clocks for 3:00 am in order to attend a work-related conference call. With that in mind, it’s helpful to set some ground rules. Below are a few tips to get started.

Determine Your Business’s Master Working Hours

This is helpful in general for businesses with satellite offices around the world. All branches should be aware of your main office’s working hours. If your main office is in Los Angeles, California, consider making Pacific time your official “home office” time. This doesn’t mean all branch offices will need to match their working hours to your home office time, but they should be aware of it.

For example, if your Tokyo office wants to hold an ad hoc global conference call at the end of day on a Monday at 4:00pm local time, that would actually be 11:00pm on a Sunday night home office time. A better choice would be to schedule the global conference call for Tuesday at 8:00am Tokyo time which would be 3:00pm Monday in Los Angeles.

Determine the Best Times for Most Conference Calls

Spend some time examining a time zone map to determine a few optimal times for your global conference calls. Depending on how spread out your team is, you may have to make a few compromises. Let’s use Los Angeles, Tokyo, and London as an example. If you plan on holding a global conference call during your home office hours of 9:00am to 5:00pm Pacific time, it will be the middle of the night in Tokyo and evening to midnight in London.

Some participants will need to join the call outside of their own local office hours. The most optimal time in this example would be 1:00 or 2:00pm Pacific time. Participants in Tokyo would need to join at 6:00 or 7:00am local time while those in London would join at 9:00 or 10:00pm local time. Though not ideal for your participants, it’s preferable to an international conference call during their normal sleeping hours.

Thus, for all-hands-on conference calls, you might establish 1:00 pm home office time as the ideal time for this type of conference call. For global conference calls between the home office and Tokyo, you might determine that 4:00 pm home office time is best. For international conference calls between LA and London, 8:30am Pacific time might be the best compromise.

Whatever you determine to be the optimal times for each office, create a master chart and share it with your team.

Consider the Proportion of Attendees in Each Time Zone

Finally, not all calls will require everyone’s attendance. If you’re the only person in Los Angeles who will be on a given conference call and everyone else is overseas, it might make more sense to schedule the call during your participants’ office hours. This may mean you’ll have to host an international conference call late at night or early in the morning, but you’ll be the only one who’s inconvenienced.

Read on about International Conferencing Activities

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Mobile Radio Wireless History

Mobile Radio Early Wireless

Before the cell phone, many commercial businesses relied on (and many still do) specialized mobile radio, or SMR, to communicate with service workers out in the field. While public agencies such as law enforcement agencies had access to mobile radios starting in the late 1920s, commercial licenses weren’t available until the SMR service was established by the FCC in 1979. This opened the door to businesses operating fleets to communicate with their drivers in real time.

Varias Personas [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Specialized mobile radio systems typically include a base station transmitter and antenna for the dispatch office along with mobile radio units for the field technicians. The mobile radio units could be car- or truck-mounted or handheld. In the early days of SMR, vehicle-mounted units were common. Typical use cases for SMR included dispatching taxis and tow trucks.

Modern SMR systems offer both a traditional dispatch mode, which allows for walkie-talkie-like voice communications over the air between two or more units, and interconnected mode, which uses the public switched telephone network for a more mobile phone-like experience. In dispatch mode, the entire fleet can hear these communications while interconnected mode allows for private conversations.

Motorola was a pioneer in the two-way radio era and a mainstay in police cruisers for decades before SMR was introduced to commercial businesses. Motorola improved upon SMR technology and developed MIRS (Motorola Integrated Radio System), which later became the Integrated Digital Enhanced Network (iDEN), a mobile telecom technology that blended cell phone technology with trunked radio service in 1991. Motorola’s improvements increased the number of users on a single part of the bandwidth dramatical compared to the standard, analog version of SMR.

A company called Fleet Call (at the time) used Motorola’s iDEN network to power its mobile devices, which were marketed to service-based companies such as pest control, mobile auto repair, plumbing, HVAC, cable TV, and uniform companies. Fleet Call’s devices looked and acted much like typical cellular phones of the early 1990s, but with a unique “push to talk” feature that instantly converted the phone into a two-way radio. By 1993, Fleet Call had changed its name to Nextel.

The push-to-talk feature differentiated Nextel phones from the rest of the pack and was seen as a marketing advantage. However, Nextel resisted including this feature on its phones initially but the FCC insisted since the iDEN network was licensed to use bandwidth reserved for dispatch use.

Nextel phones had several advantages in that era: they could be used as pagers, cell phones, and two-way radios depending on the business’s needs at any given time. For example, a dispatcher could send a short text message or alert to call the office at the next opportunity, which was similar to the most advanced pagers of the time. A dispatcher could also call an individual for a private phone conversation or use the push-to-talk function to get a quick status update.

Nextel was later acquired by Sprint in 2005. Sprint abandoned Nextel’s iDEN network in favor of its own CDMA network. In 2013, Sprint decommissioned the iDEN network and integrated the spectrum in the Sprint LTE network.

aitelephone.com

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Sources:

https://www.fcc.gov/wireless/bureau-divisions/broadband-division/specialized-mobile-radio-service-smr

https://ethw.org/Milestones:One-Way_Police_Radio_Communication,_1928

https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/vb7vk4/roger-that-a-short-history-of-the-walkie-talkie

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IDEN

http://www.company-histories.com/Motorola-Inc-Company-History.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nextel_Communications

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Conferencing Tool

Holding Virtual Workshops with the help of a Conferencing Tool

Conferencing Tool Enables Workshops with an effective means of collectively building a team’s skills. Holding a workshop has a lot of benefits beyond the actual training including the opportunity to build stronger relationships with your team members. However, the logistics involved in gathering a group together for a workshop can be tricky, especially if your team is scattered geographically.

Conferencing Tools

From meeting room rentals and catering to flights and accommodations, costs can quickly grow, too. If travel is required, you may also experience a short-term productivity loss due to team members having to take time off to travel to the workshop. As wonderful as it is to get the team together in person, there’s another option: holding virtual workshops with our audio, video and web conferencing tool. Here are a few pointers.

Determine the format — Does the training require visuals or will an audio conference alone suffice? Video and web conferencing are ideal for holding a virtual workshop where video will play a key role. If you also intend to share files or give a PowerPoint presentation, your virtual workshop will need to be in a visual format. If you don’t need visuals, audio conferencing is an another way to go. Consider also the advantages and disadvantages of the different conferencing options.

With video and web conferencing, your attendees will need Internet access and a standard web browser to join. With audio conferencing, a standard phone connection is all that’s needed. If you have attendees from around the globe, our international conferencing plan makes joining your audio conference a simple matter of dialing a local or toll free number specific to each participant’s country.

Determine the size and scope of your virtual workshop — There’s a big difference between holding an audio conference call with 10 people and one with hundreds or even thousands on the call. For large events, contact us to learn more about our assisted event conferencing services. If you’re holding a video conference, how many people need to appear on screen via webcam?

Video conferencing is an excellent choice for smaller teams, enabling everyone to see and interact with one another. You may also want to have a series of individual presenters, passing the presenter’s role from one person to the next as your workshop progresses.

Prepare your materials — As with a live workshop, you’ll need to do a lot of planning and preparation beforehand. You may even want to pre-produce some of your presentations for live playback during the workshop. Having them done in advance relieves some of the stress of the day’s events.

Invite your team — Since the workshop is being held via audio, video or web conference, there’s no need for anyone to travel, which should increase attendance. If the workshop is for your own internal team, you could even make attendance mandatory.

Record your workshop sessions — Our conferencing tools make recording easy. Your recordings can be added to your learning management system, allowing your team to rewatch any session they might have missed or want to review at their leisure. Future team members can also benefit from your previous virtual workshops.

If you’re looking for a convenient, engaging way to get your team together, a virtual workshop is something to consider. Our affordable, contract-free audio, video, and web conferencing tool can help you make it happen.

View details about our conference tool services

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Global Virtual Phone Numbers

How to Use Global Virtual Phone Numbers to Automatically Provide Product Information

What if you could professionally greet callers and educate them about the product that they’re interested in automatically, 24/7 via a recording, and then provide them with a means to connect with you for further information? Our virtual phone numbers allow you to do just that — even if you cater to customers located in another country.

Global Virtual Phone Numbers Changsha, China

Car dealers, Realtors, property managers, and other sellers can use virtual phone numbers for each product or listing. Our virtual phone numbers come with a host of features that allow you to create an outstanding educational experience for your callers.

For example, let’s say you’re advertising multi-million dollar beachfront homes in Miami to prospects located in the United Kingdom on a popular classified advertising site such as Gumtree. Your ad would feature a few enticing details, but won’t have space for everything you want to share or that they want to know. Here’s how you could use a global virtual phone number to provide information and capture the prospect’s details for later follow up:

Use a local or toll free global phone number — In this example, you’d want to choose one of our UK virtual numbers. To your callers, it will look as if you have a presence in the United Kingdom when in reality you may work out of Miami – or anywhere else in the world.

Set up a custom greeting — This virtual phone number will have a singular purpose (to provide product information to prospects from a given channel), so you can customize your greeting to match. For example, you might create a greeting that says, “Thanks for inquiring about our listing shown on Gumtree. Press 1 to learn more about the property, 2 to learn about the neighborhood, 3 to hear about our leasing terms, 4 to leave a message, and 5 to connect to an agent.

Review your call logs — You’ll be able to view detailed call logs showing you exactly how much interest your ad is generating. The duration of calls could serve as a valuable indicator as well as the number of times a given caller has called in. For example, a caller who has listened for five to ten minutes is probably more interested in the property than one who hung up after 20 seconds. Likewise, if a caller calls back a second or third time, it could be a spouse listening in at his or her partner’s prompting. If they did not leave a message or request a callback, it might be a good idea to reach out to them.

Since your global virtual phone number answers and responds to calls 24/7, this is a great way to overcome the challenges of doing business across time zones. Your callers get the information that they want, when they want it, and you don’t have to take calls in the middle of the night or at inconvenient times. Meanwhile, for those who are serious, the virtual PBX system provides a means for further connections.

Our global virtual numbers are affordable and offered without a contract, making them perfect for temporary advertisements.

View all global call forwarding country choices here

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Virtual Conference Room

Virtual Conference Room with Audio, Video and Web Conferencing

The rise of smartphones, tablets, Skype, and FaceTime have fundamentally changed how we work and communicate with one another. Just a few years ago, having a physical conference room was an absolute necessity for most businesses. Today, you may be wondering how you might put that space to better use. After all, a good portion of employees work remotely. Even when a business hosts a video or web conference to include remote team members, it’s not unusual for those huddled around the conference room table to log in on their laptops so they can take advantage of all the real-time collaboration features offered by desktop video conferencing in their virtual conference room.

Whether your office has a conference room or not, creating a virtual conference room with audio, video, and web conferencing capabilities could eliminate the need for a dedicated meeting space without having to compromise on human interactions. Here’s what you need to know.

  • It’s no longer necessary to invest in extensive audio / video hardware — For example, our desktop video conferencing solutions run in a standard web browser and utilize each participant’s onboard webcam and microphone.
  • Virtual conferencing is easy to use and packed with helpful features — Hosting or participating in a video or web conference is easy with our service. If you can navigate a basic website, you can easily manage a video conference. Features such as screen sharing, collaborative notes, recordings, chats, personal share space, pass-the-presenter, and a companion mobile app enhance the virtual conferencing experience. In fact, you’ll probably miss these tools the next time you’re in a regular in-person meeting.
  • Geographic boundaries are no longer obstacles to getting things done — Getting your entire team together in person has become increasingly impractical, especially when many work from home, in co-working spaces, in various branch offices, in the field, or in entirely different countries for that matter.  With a virtual conference room, location no longer factors into the equation. Everyone simply joins at the appointed time from wherever they happen to be. They can join using any type of device, too, including desktop computers, laptops, smartphones, or tablets.
  • Different types of conferencing services are available — It’s not always necessary to meet with webcams on or with screen-sharing enabled. In many cases, an audio conference is a desirable choice. We offer audio, video, and web conferencing, allowing you to build the right conferencing solution for your needs. Even better, each of our services is offered without a contract, which means you can add or remove services as your needs change. For example, if you’re working on a short-term contract with overseas vendors, you may need our international conferencing plan for a few months. Once that contract is up and you no longer need to communicate internationally, you could stop using the service without penalty. Likewise, you may want to host a series of web conferences after a product launch. Once you’ve completed the series and have posted the recordings on your website, you may want to take a break with that service. Again, since there’s no contract, you can start and stop the service as needed.

We offer a variety of virtual conferencing tools including international audio conferencing, video and web conferencing, special event conference calls, global virtual phone numbers, and more — all without a long-term commitment on your part, and all powered by modern, high quality telecommunications networks.

View Virtual Conference Room Services here

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Pager History Origins of Telecom

Pager Use Over 100 Years

100 Years of the Pager

When was the last time you saw someone wearing a pager? Largely a relic of the past, a few professions still rely on pagers for alerts including surgeons, nuclear engineers, and emergency responders. While pagers had their heyday in the 1980s and 1990s, their use dates back much further into the 20th century. Here’s a brief history of the pager.

Pager of the 1920s

Pagers trace their roots to one-way radio, which first came into existence in the 1920s with the Detroit Police Department leading the way. Kenneth Cox, Walter Vogler, and Bernard Fitzgerald, all Detroit patrolmen and all amateur radio buffs began tinkering with radio sets they installed in a Model T police car. Cox later partnered with Robert L. Batts, an engineering student, to build a one-way radio receiver and antenna. In 1928, their one-way radio was installed and the Detroit Police Department began dispatching patrol cars by radio. Other police departments followed suit.

Pagers of the 1940s and 1950s

In 1949, Al Gross, who also invented the walkie talkie, cordless telephone, and CB radio, patented the first telephone pager device. It wasn’t called a pager just yet. The device was pocket-sized and included circuitry that responded selectively to specific signals. Gross showed his device to healthcare professionals at a medical convention in Philadelphia in 1949 but was met with skepticism. Most featured that the device would either update patients or interfere with their golf games! In 1950, Gross’s telephone paging system was implemented in New York’s Jewish hospital.

In 1959, the term “pager” was finally coined when Motorola entered the market with a personal radio communications device. This device was about half the size of a deck of playing cards.

Pagers of the 1960s and 1970s

Motorola’s 1964 PageBoy 1 was the first successful consumer pager. It alerted users with a tone.

Pagers of this era came to be known as “beepers” as that’s exactly what they did. They beeped you with an audible tone. A series of different tones meant that different meanings could be attached to the tone type. For example, a short beep might mean, “incoming ambulance” whereas a long tone might mean “call the dispatch desk.” Pagers during this time also had a limited range, making them useful in hospitals and buildings.

Voice pagers arrived, improving the practical use of pagers, albeit still within an onsite network. With voice pagers, instead of just an alert telling the user to call in to the dispatch desk for details, the pager relayed audible instructions such as “you’re needed in room 2.” Numeric pagers soon followed and were preferred over voice because they were more discreet. At this time, the displays were small and limited. Either the phone number the receiver should call would be displayed or an internal code for a predetermined action.

Pagers of the 1980s and 1990s

By the 1980s, wide area paging had arrived. This allowed pages to be transmitted via radio waves across wide distances — across cities, states, and the country. The popularity of pagers rose as a result. Businesses of all types recognized the value of pagers and equipped their field technicians and employees with pagers. Even drug dealers got into the act.

Alphanumeric pagers soon arrived, allowing dispatchers or pager callers to enter a text message. Now, instead of using internal codes, it was possible to send typed instructions. At this point, paging was still a one-way affair. The end user could receive the message but had to find a phone and make a call to respond in any way. In the late 1990s, two-way pagers appeared, enabling users to respond back directly from their pagers. Motorola’s Tango two-way pager could even receive email. In 1996, Research in Motion (BlackBerry)’s Inter@active Pager arrived complete with a QWERTY keyboard and graphical display.

The Death of Pagers

By 2001, paging manufacturers began exiting. It had become clear that new technologies were making pagers all but obsolete.

Sources:

https://electronics.howstuffworks.com/everyday-tech/who-still-uses-pagers.htm

https://blog.commontime.com/100-year-pager-history

https://ethw.org/Milestones:One-Way_Police_Radio_Communication,_1928https://lemelson.mit.edu/resources/al-gross

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International Conference Calls Timing

How to End International Conference Calls on Time

International Conference Calls Timing

Conference calls, international or otherwise, often run longer than anticipated. When this happens, participants may leave before you’ve officially wrapped up the call due to other commitments. In addition to losing engagement, you may lose some credibility as the meeting’s leader. Conference calls and meetings that run long can be annoying, inconvenient, or even signal a lack of respect for others’ time. Participants may perceive you as being unorganized if you don’t focus on International Conference Calls Timing.

None of the above is what you want. It’s important to create and stick to a schedule so that your global conference calls are productive and engaging and respect International Conference Calls Timing.

In order to end international conference calls on time, you will need to:

  • Plan your conference call.  What is the call about? What is the desired outcome? What topics do you need to discuss? Will you field questions from attendees as you go or at the end? Plan out your conference call and allot a certain amount of time to each topic.
  • Allow time for the unexpected. Pad your times a little to allow for unexpected delays. For example, with international conference calls, English may be a second or third language. You may need to clarify some topics to ensure everyone understands their meaning.
  • Front-load your conference call. Start with the most urgent matters and end with those of lesser importance. If, despite your intentions, your meeting progresses slower than expected, you can still end it on time with confidence knowing that the most pressing matters have been addressed.
  • Include time for questions and answers at the end of the call. This also serves as padding. For example, if you’ve scheduled 10 minutes for questions and answers at the end of the call but are running five minutes behind schedule, you’ll still be able to field questions for five minutes and end on time.
  • Include time at the end of the call to detail the next actions. Summarizing what’s next is important in ensuring that everyone knows what’s expected of them. Take notes during the international conference call, writing and highlighting any action items. At the end of the call, go over these action items.
  • Start promptly on time. If your international conference call is scheduled to start at 10:00am, start it at 10:00am. You will always have latecomers, and that’s not your problem nor it is the problem of those who joined your call on time. If you wait five minutes to start your call, you’re automatically starting with a five-minute deficit which could cause your meeting to run long or prompt you to skimp on a topic in order to make up lost time.
  • Watch the clock or use a timer. Keep an eye on the clock in relation to your agenda. As the end time for a given topic draws near, wrap it up and move on to the next topic.
  • End the conference call early or on time. Best case, your call is productive and your timing estimates were spot on. Since you padded your agenda items, you may even finish early.
  • Your participants will likely be happy to have participated in a productive international conference call and thrilled to have extra time on their hands. Worst case, your call went slower than expected and you weren’t able to cover everything you wanted to cover in the allotted time. As you wrap up the call — on time — with your action steps, mention that you’ve tabled the remaining topics for your next meeting.
  • Since you prioritized the most urgent matters, this should be acceptable. Your participants will walk away with the most important information and be happy that the call ended on time.

Learn more about international conference calls here

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International Conferencing

How to Use International Conferencing to Communicate with a Large Global Audience

International conferencing bridges distances, bringing a diverse group together in a group telephone call. Our global conference calling service uses advanced telecommunications networks for optimal sound quality. Our bridge enables individuals to access the conference using country-specific access numbers. With support for up to 250 participants, you can host large international conference calls with people from around the world. Below are a few tips to help ensure that your next global audio conference goes smoothly.

International Conferencing Benefits

International Conferencing Provides Global Access Numbers

When you activate your global conferencing account with us, we’ll send you a list of all global access numbers.

As you create your event and invite attendees, make sure to provide invitees with the list of local and toll-free options for their countries.

Your participants will appreciate being able to join your global call using a local phone number. Not only is it more convenient for them, having a local access dial-in number moves uncertainty surrounding the cost of the call, which should improve participation. Attendees join your call free of charge.

Encourage the use of our free Connect app — Imagine joining a global conference call with just a tap. Our Connect app lets you do just that, eliminating the need to enter access numbers and passcodes. It works worldwide from any web-enabled device including computers, smartphones, and tablets.

As the host of the call, you’ll have access to helpful moderator’s tools, but attendees can use the app as well to join your conference. They simply tap to join and will be automatically called by the system and joined into the conference call.

In addition to the added convenience and value, the app offers, when attendees use it to join a call, their participation is billed at our dial-out rate. This rate is much lower than most of the toll-free dial-in rates, which can reduce the overall cost of your global conference call.

Have a colleague help moderate the call — There’s a big difference between hosting global conference calls with a small group and one with up to 250 attendees.

Having a co-moderator allows the conference to continue while the co-moderator handles various administrative tasks such as time- and agenda-management, taking notes, keeping track of questions to answer at the end of the call, and so forth.

Your co-moderator could also monitor emails, phone calls, and other channels in case some participants reach out indicating that they need help joining the conference. If that’s the case, they could then use the dial-out function to join them into the conference in progress.

Make sure you and your co-moderator know how to use the various moderator features — A single unmuted phone line could wreak havoc over your global conference call. Knowing how to quickly find and shut it down is crucial in minimizing its potential for disruption. Ideally, your co-moderator will take care of this so that you can continue sharing your message.

We recommend having the online event viewer open during your global conference call. This tool will show you a list of all participants as well as the status of their lines. It’s very easy to identify and mute the line that is generating noise.

Use the “lecture” mode as appropriate — One of the best ways to minimize interruptions is by using the lecture mode during your presentation. Use * 5 to turn this mode on and off. When in lecture mode, the only line open is yours. Everyone else will be able to hear you, but their lines will be muted. Once you’re done presenting and want to open up the call to other speakers or for a questions and answers session, press * 5 to exit out of lecture mode.

Take advantage of our operator assistance if needed — If you need help at any point, our live operators are standing by to be of immediate assistance. Simply press * 0 to reach an operator during your global conference calls.

International Conferencing Service

Finally, consider our assisted International Conferencing with audio and video conferencing service. Our operators help before, during, and after your international conference calls, handling all kinds of behind-the-scenes tasks so that you can focus on your presentation. We can assist on calls with just a handful of attendees to the largest global conferences of all with thousands of attendees.

Contact us today to learn more.

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Video Conferencing for Startups

How to Use Video Conferencing for Startups

Whether you’re bootstrapping a new business or have received a much-needed infusion of cash, running a startup requires a lot of networking with others. Video conferencing can play a role in this from collaborating with your partners to pitching your business plan to investors. Below are a few ideas on how to use video conferencing in your startup.

Video Conferencing For Startups

First, let’s look at some of the advantages of video conferencing.

  • Save on Office Space — Housing employees is expensive, even if you just have a few of them. What if everyone worked remotely? You’d save a lot of money on office space each month. Hundreds of companies exist that have adopted the virtual business model including Automattic, AgileBits, Buffer, Sticker Mule, and InVision (which has 700 employees). 
  • Get a Competitive Advantage — Video conferencing frees you from the bounds of geography. The best people to bring on board may not live in your city or be willing to relocate. By eliminating the office, you can hire from beyond your local talent pool. Plus, remote work is seen as a desirable perk, helping your business attract top-notch talent in a competitive hiring environment. With less overhead and better talent, your startup will have an advantage over your competitors.

So, what’s a typical day in the life of a virtual startup like?

  • Morning chats — How about starting each day with a quick video chat covering the day ahead. Keep it short, say 5 to 10 minutes max, and make it a routine. This gives everyone a chance to check in, stay informed, and get some face time. It’s also a good way to breed familiarity amongst a distributed team.
  • Regular staff meetings — You could hold both regularly scheduled staff meetings in a video conference as well as ad hoc meetings as needed. Your regular staff meetings will be longer than your morning chats and will go into greater depth as well.
  • Small group collaboration — Video conferencing enables you to connect in a face-to-face environment for real-time collaboration. Screen-sharing, file-sharing, and other features allow for a more immersive experience, much as if your team huddled around the same computer. Video conferencing is great for training, demonstrations, sharing, and brainstorming.
  • Interviews — Speaking of hiring talent from a global talent pool, what better way to conduct an interview than with a video conference? As a candidate rises to the top, consider having his or her future colleagues join the conference to introduce themselves. This is a good way to introduce new hires to your remote culture.
  • Touching base — In a regular office, you might stop and chat with your team members, casually getting to know them and finding out what ideas they might have or struggles they may be facing. You’ll need a virtual way to do something similar. Consider holding one-on-one video conferences with your team members periodically so you can get to know them and pick their brains. Just like your casual chats, these should be short and informal.
  • Pitches — It’s not always practical to meet in person, and you have the next best thing in the form of a video conferencing plan. It’s part of your competitive advantage, so why not use a video conference as part of your pitch to investors? They’ll be able to experience part of what makes your business tick while also enjoying the fact that they don’t have to travel to a meeting.
  • Investor relations — As your relationship with investors grows, you’ll want to stay in touch. Video conferencing is an excellent communications tool. Whether you need mentoring and advice or have an issue that needs their attention, setting up a quick video conference can bring everyone together no matter where in the world they may physically be.

Video conferencing is quickly becoming a must-have business communication and collaboration tool. It’s affordable and available on a contract-free basis.

Try it free for 30-days and experience the benefits of video conferencing today. No credit card required.

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Hold International Conference Calls

How to Hold International Conference Calls Between USA and Southeast Asia

Business partnerships between companies located in the United States and international partners and suppliers in Southeast Asia have become commonplace. Communications methods including phone calls, international conference calls, email, Skype, and text messaging make it possible to collaborate with one another despite the huge geographical distance between regions. Hold International conference calls between USA and Southeast Asia are an affordable, convenient choice for any company doing business with companies in Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Brunei, or Timor-Leste (East Timor).

Hong Kong at Night

Here’s what you need to know.

Hold international conference calls between USA and most of the countries in Southeast Asia is straightforward with our global audio conferencing plans. We have toll free access numbers specific to 7 of the 11 countries in Southeast Asia, making it extremely convenient for your international participants in Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Brunei to join your global calls. Since these toll free access numbers work just like any other toll free number in those countries, participants do not need to dial their country’s exit code or make a potentially costly long distance phone call in order to join your audio conference. We also have some city specific access numbers in Southeast Asia, for example, Singapore City, as well as dial-out access. Our international toll free, regional, and dial-out conferencing rates are extremely competitive.

It’s a little trickier for participants in Laos, Myanmar, and East Timor as those countries are not currently supported with toll free access. The reasons for this vary, but not all countries have the infrastructure in place for toll free access to global conference calls. For example, East Timor was part of the Indonesian numbering plan up until 1999 when violence and Indonesia’s departure from the territory destroyed most of the telecommunications infrastructure. International access remains limited in East Timor.

However, they can still participate in your global conference calls. The two best ways to facilitate international conference calls between USA and Laos, Myanmar, or East Timor are:

  • Dial-out — With our dial-out feature, the call Leader can dial participants directly and then join them into the international conference call. It’s a simple process, and our dial-out rates tend to be our lowest. If you only need to connect a few participants, dial-out is a practical choice. If you have a long list of participants requiring dial-out, you could either enter their numbers in advance and let the system automatically dial-out to them at the appointed time or request our live operators to assist you with this. Learn more about the dial-out feature here.
  • The free Connect app — Our free connect app allows participants to join your USA to Southeast Asia conference call without having to dial an access number. It’s a convenient choice for any conferencing participant, even those who could otherwise access your call using a toll free access number. You’ll be billed for participants using the app at our low dial-out rates.
Sensō-ji, Taitō-ku, Japan

Hold international conference calls with your business associates in Southeast Asia is an affordable, flexible choice. We have extremely low rates and no minimum usage requirements. There are no contracts, no monthly fees, and you can cancel at any time. Sign up for an account today and pay only for the minutes you use.

Legacy – 119 global access numbers

Expanded – 150 global access numbers

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Telecommunications and Your Business

How Telecommunications Can Give Your Business a Competitive Advantage

Telecommunications business services

The telecommunications tools you choose for your business can do much more than simply connect callers to your office; the right ones can give your business a competitive advantage.

So, rather than approaching a phone system or international conferencing plan as a necessary business commodity, think of how you can leverage them to your advantage. Below are a few ways that our contract-free telecommunications solutions can give your business an edge over the competition.

Less Overhead

Web, video, and audio conferencing make telecommuting much more practical. By utilizing a remote workforce, you can drastically reduce your office space. Not only does this reduce your rent, it also reduces your energy bills and other associated costs. With lower overhead, you’ll have more resources available to invest in other aspects of your business.

PBX systems are expensive, but there’s an alternative that can give you the same features such as auto attendant and extensions — and you won’t be tied down to the office. Our global virtual number plans act like a virtual PBX. You can set up your toll free virtual phone number to include an auto attendant, a personalized greeting, extensions, time of day routing, and more. You can even set it up so that incoming calls follow you from the office to your cell phone to any other phone number you may have or have the system respond differently based on the time of day. Moreover, our rates are extremely competitive and can scale with your business.

Conference calling is a great way to reduce the need for business travel, further reducing the costs of doing business. If you travel internationally, our pay-as-you-go international conference calling plans are an excellent tool to use in lieu of a trip. While some trips may be unavoidable, if you can reduce their frequency yet still interact with your international contacts in a meaningful, real-time manner, you’ll reduce your spending and have more time to spend on strengthening your business.

Easy Availability

Since your virtual PBX can ring all of your phones at once or in a sequence that you set, you’re less likely to miss an important phone call. Meanwhile, we offer global virtual phone numbers specific to more than one hundred countries and thousands of cities around the world. By ordering low-cost virtual phone numbers for the key regions you are targeting, your prospects and customers can more easily contact you simply by dialing a local phone number. There’s no need to establish and staff a local office anymore as virtual phone numbers allow you to answer international incoming phone calls virtually anywhere in the world.

Our international conferencing and video conferencing services facilitate global meetings, again, making you more accessible to your customers and prospects. Using audio or web conferencing can play an important role in building those important relationships.

Telecommunications business services Assist with Better Talent Acquisition and Retention

Earlier we mentioned telecommuting as a means of reducing office space. Employees appreciate remote work opportunities, which can help improve morale and retention. Telecommuting also widens your potential talent pool, enabling you to choose more qualified employees and build a stronger workforce.

Telecommunications business services with Audio, video, and web conferencing allow for real-time collaboration amongst your remote teams. They can interact face-to-face, share ideas, and share files with one another as if they were in the same building.

Improved Customer Experience

All of our tools can be used to enhance the customer experience. For example, where your competitor’s phone system may prompt callers to “press 2 for Spanish,” your virtual phone number can automatically route incoming calls from Mexico to bilingual CSRs who speak Spanish. Having the ability to hold audio, video, or web conferences with your customers on a moment’s notice enables you to respond better to issues.

Each of the above points is powerful on its own, and even more powerful collectively. It’s a tough market out there; you need every advantage you can get. Give us a try and see just how beneficial our business telecommunications tools are.

http://aitelephone.com

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The Chemical Telegraph

Origins of Telecom: The Chemical Telegraph

When you think of telecommunications, it’s really quite magical, isn’t it? Sending and receiving messages from around the globe in real-time (or close to it) is nothing short of amazing. But it’s not magic. Telecommunications is built on the imaginations of inventors who tinkered with wires, devices, and even chemicals in order to make their magic work.

One of these inventors was Samuel Thomas von Sömmering who, in 1809, improved on an earlier design by Francisco Salva Campillo for transmitting letters over a telegraph. Their designs used a series of wires to represent letters of the alphabet and numbers. Sömmering placed the wires on the receiving end into tubes of acid.

When an electric current was sent, the receiving wires electrolyzed the acid in the tubes in sequence. This released hydrogens bubbles next to the corresponding letter or number. An operator on the receiving end would observe the bubbles and then record the transmission. This technology was known as an electrochemical telegraph rather than the electromagnetic telegraph which opens and closes a circuit to establish a magnetic field, which then causes a mechanical movement.

Another one of these inventors was Alexander Bain, who invented the first technology believed to transfer images over a wire. His chemical telegraph, which you could consider an early fax machine, was patented in 1843 — still long before the telephone. It was an offshoot of the telegraph, intended to draw letters on one end and then re-draw them on the receiving end. Bain, a professor, philosopher, and amateur clockmaker, accomplished this by synchronizing two pendulums with a stylus to a clock. The motion scanned a flat metal plate containing letters of the alphabet line by line and then projected outlines of the letters onto a cylinder. The image quality was poor, but it certainly was proof of concept.

Bain faced what an article in Scientific America claimed was “unjust opposition” to his patent application by a rival caveat, Professor Morse’s chemical telegraph, which “…is not worth a single straw, and which cannot operate as a telegraph at all, that is as it is represented in his drawings, we humbly believe that the Chemical Telegraph of Prof. Morse was set up merely to blockade the path of another rival Telegraph.” Bain appealed the patent rejection and was ultimately awarded the patent. Bain eventually went bankrupt, and Scientific America observed a notable change in the inventor’s appearance “From being so much harassed and persecuted.”

The “image telegraph” soon followed, invented by Frederick Bakewell as an improvement to Bain’s chemical telegraph. Bakewell’s version replaced the pendulums with rotating cylinders and a metal stylus that travel across the cylinder as it rotated. The receiving end featured a similar setup, but with a chemical paper that was marked with the stylus as the cylinder rotated. He presented his invention at the 1851 World’s Fair in London. Not only could his device transmit text, it could also transmit simple lines. His version was not a commercial success, but the possibilities had certainly become apparent.

These early chemical telegraphs set the stage for future devices that would later include the modern fax machine.

Telecommunications Services Including International Conference Calls and
Global Call Forwarding Since 1996

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Sources:
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/bain-the-inventor-of-the-chemical-t/
https://mysite.du.edu/~jcalvert/tel/morse/morse.htm
http://www.connected-earth.com/Journeys/Livingwithtelecommunications/Livinginthetelegraphage/Fax/index.htm
https://www.thoughtco.com/history-of-the-fax-machine-1991379
https://www.afax.com/frederick-bakewell/
https://faxauthority.com/fax-history/

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Audio Video Conference Call Sound Quality

How to Improve the Sound Quality of Your Audio Video Conference Call

Audio video conference call is a fact of modern business life, but sound quality remains elusive — and frustrating — for many conference calling users.

Audio video conference call is a fact of modern business life, but sound quality remains elusive — and frustrating — for many conference calling users. Fortunately, there are measures you can take to improve audio. Below are a few tips to get you started.

Choose Your Service Provider Wisely

Test the services you are considering, paying close attention to audio quality. Starting with a high-quality service provider will help ensure that pops, low volume levels, echoes, and other distracting line noises don’t interfere with your audio or call-in video conference.

International Conference Call service with Superb Sound Quality

Set Up Your Environment and Minimize Distractions for your Audio Video Conference Call

Choose an appropriate environment, ideally a private, quiet area where you won’t be overheard and where the other participants won’t have to hear distracting background noises. Turn off phone ringers, audible alerts, and other potential noise makers such as fans, fountains, radios, and appliances. If you’ll be participating from home, instruct family members to stay out of the room. Pets are another concern when calling from home.

Use Mute

Use the mute function when not speaking. When dialing in using a telephone, the keypad command is *6. When using computer audio, click the microphone button to turn your audio on and off. All participants should be familiar with muting and unmuting their lines. If you’re hosting the conference call, you also have the ability to mute the lines of other participants.

Get a Microphone

Use a good quality cardioid microphone or headset. Cardioid microphones pick up audio from directly in front of the microphone rather than in a 360 degree field. Thus, when you speak into the microphone, your voice will be picked up but noise from behind the microphone (such as a computer fan running) won’t be picked up. If you used an omnidirectional mic, it would pick up everything. You could also use a standard headset typically used for phone calls.

Wear headphones

Not only do headphones help you to better hear other call participants, they’ll reduce the likelihood of audio feedback (make sure to turn off your computer’s speakers). Feedback occurs when a microphone picks up its output such as when you have the speakers turned up too high. Bypassing your speakers and wearing a headset will eliminate that problem.

Test Audio Video Conference Call Gear

It’s smart to join audio and video conferences a few minutes early to make sure that you have plenty of time to test your microphone, speakers/headset, and webcam.

Ready to improve audio on your next conference call? Start by testing one of our affordable audio, video, and web conferencing services today.

Try For Free

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Improve Web Conferencing

How to Improve Web Conferencing Engagement

Improve Web Conferencing Engagement

Ease of use and more comfortable end-users don’t necessarily mean that everyone is engaged during web conferences. Some people still dread them. Maybe they’re camera shy, or perhaps they simply prefer meeting in person. Some may be bored or unsure of what their role should be. Whatever the case, if you want your web conferences to be productive, increasing your participants’ engagement levels should help. Below are a few tips to consider to Improve Web Conferencing engagement.    

Technology and user adoption rates have converged, making web conferencing an increasingly popular communications tool. It’s become so easy, that obstacles that used to make web conferencing impractical no longer exist. Users are accustomed to clicking a link to launch a web conference in browser and signing in. Since most computers, tablets, and smartphones are already equipped with microphones, webcams, and speakers, there’s no need to purchase or set up equipment.

Be Selective

Your entire team doesn’t necessarily have to attend every single web conference you host. While it may seem to make sense to gather everyone into a longer session, it could be an engagement killer. Consider holding smaller web conferences with select individuals.

Run a Tight Ship

One reason people dread meetings is because they tend to drag on without a clear agenda. Creating an agenda and allotting a certain amount of each time per item is a good start. While you’re at it, assign a few key roles: timekeeper, chat moderator, and official note taker.

Send Personal Invites to Improve Web Conferencing

While most web conferencing software will automatically invite attendees, providing them with the pertinent scheduling and access information, sending a personal invitation gives you the opportunity to engage with participants before the conference.

For example, you might write, “Hey John, I’d like you to present the new product demo tomorrow during our weekly web conference. I put you down for 7 minutes. That should be enough time to show the video and share the story behind it. Let me know if you need additional time or have anything else you’d like to share.”

See what we just did? We set expectations. John now knows exactly what’s expected of him, so he can prepare accordingly. He’ll know to have the product demo video ready to go when it’s his turn to present. Not only can this help John better understand his role and eliminate any uncertainty he may have, we’re helping him to become more invested in the web conference. We asked for his input. He’s no longer an idle participant. This is true of the people you’ve asked to be the timekeeper and note taker, too.

Since John will be ready to present, there will be less time wasted waiting for him to locate and load the video. This improves meeting efficiency which will help with everyone else’s engagement.

Have a Little Fun

As your web conference gets underway, warm everyone up with a fun activity. For example, you could ask everyone to take and share a picture of their current view. This is fun when your team is located in different states or countries. Don’t spend too much time on this — just a quick warm up. Schedule this at the top of the agenda and then quickly jump into the heart of the web conference.

Draw Out the Introverts to Improve Web Conferencing

Web conferences are great for introverts, but they may still have trouble getting a word in if others tend to dominate the conversation. Periodically call on individuals, asking for their input. Encourage participants to use the chat box to jot down their ideas and questions throughout the presentation. Ask your chat moderator to keep track of these questions and ideas (culling out any duplicates or comments that have been resolved) so you can address them  during the Q&A.

Keep Your Web Conferences Short

Shorter, more focused meetings tend to be more effective than long, drawn out ones, so keep your web conferences short, too.

Send a Follow-up and Share Your Notes and Web Conference Recordings with Participants

Finally, after the meeting, promptly send a follow-up, wrapping up what was discussed and what needs to be done. Including your notes and the recording is helpful.

Improve web conferencing engagement starts with a reliable, easy-to-use desktop web conferencing solution.

Try a free 30-trial of Video Pro video conferencing today and put these tips to good use!

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International Conference Call Minimize Distractions

How to Minimize International Conference Call Distractions

A few years ago, researchers from Research Now surveyed business conference call users about their experiences. They found an average of about 13 minutes of every conference call was wasted on interruptions and distractions. If your typical conference call runs about a half hour in length, losing 13 minutes to distractions puts a serious damper on the productivity of your global audio conferences. Fortunately, you can take matters into your own hands to minimize distractions and keep your calls productive.

Let’s look at the most common international conference call distractions so that you can recognize and avoid them:

  • Getting started — Small talk, finding out who’s on the call, waiting a few extra minutes to ensure everyone else has had a chance to join the call, sending text messages to attendees who haven’t joined the call, is one of the biggest distractions. If your global conference call starts at 9:00am, many attendees will have joined a few minutes early. Waiting until 9:05 or 9:10 to start could mean up to 15 minutes of time wasted. Multiply that times the number of attendees you have on the line and you’re looking at a serious loss of productivity.
  • Late joiners — Late joiners are disruptive, too. They may announce themselves and apologize for their tardiness — or even expect a quick synopsis of what they’ve missed. 
  • Background noise — It’s a common conference call courtesy to mute microphones when not speaking, but this doesn’t always happen. Whether someone doesn’t know any better or merely forgot to mute their line, background noise can be very distracting. For example, if a participant is typing notes on a keyboard, the sounds of typing could easily be heard by all. Likewise, landscapers with lawnmowers and leaf blowers outside one of your attendee’s office could drown out the speaker’s voice.
  • Fumbling with screen sharing — For video conferences, screen sharing is a useful tool. However, if the other person is unprepared for the handoff, it could be a time-consuming task to get up and running.

You’ll always need to get the global conference call started, have late joiners and attendees who fail to mute themselves, and you may need to share each other’s screens from time to time in a video conference. So, how do you manage all of the above? Here are a few ideas:

  • Set expectations and start on time — Let your attendees know your global conference call will start promptly at the scheduled time, and suggest that they dial in a few minutes early to give them time to enter their passcodes and get settled. Depending on the nature of your conference call, you may even want to lock your conference once it gets underway. If so, let them know the call will be locked promptly, which is another incentive for attendees to be on time.
  • Use operator assistance to track down late attendees — Locking your conference calls will eliminate the international conference call distractions of late joiners, but you may still want them to be able to attend your conference call, even if they must join late. Our operators can help and join dial key attendees who may have forgotten or had issues joining your call. Designate one of your colleagues to coordinate this or make arrangements before the conference call to have an operator track down any absentee participants. Meanwhile, start the conference call while without them. The operator will take care of the pleasantries and join these latecomers into your conference call in progress.
  • Use the live event viewer to mute any noisy or unmuted lines — Our live conference viewer provides you with a graphical list of attendees and the status of their microphones. When you hear background noise, a quick look will show you exactly which attendee is responsible. From there, a simple click of a button will mute that caller’s line to avoid those audio international conference call distractions.
  • Give the other presenter(s) a heads-up about screen sharing — If you know ahead of time who you might want to share their screens, it’s helpful to let them know you’ll be calling on them to share their screen at some point in the video conference. This gives them time to prepare a short presentation and have it open and ready on their computers. It also affords them the opportunity to close any other open applications that could be distracting when their screen goes live. If they’ve never used screen sharing, offer to do a quick practice run beforehand so they feel comfortable with how it works.

Whether you’re hosting a small audio conference with your distributed team or a huge global conference call with dozens of attendees, minimizing distractions will lead to a more productive call.

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Conference Call Issues

How to Share Confidential Information More Securely During a Conference Call

Have you ever shared confidential information during a conference call? When discussing important matters with colleagues and business partners, it’s almost a given that you might discuss sensitive information. In fact, a Research Now Survey revealed that 93 percent of respondents had done just that on a conference call and 20 percent admitted to doing so frequently.

Conference Call Issues and Security

So, is that a problem? After all, you probably signed up for a conferencing plan specifically so you could communicate with your team, partners, and other key business associates on any number of topics. Assuming your call participants should be privy to the information, shouldn’t you be able to speak freely?

Absolutely, but it’s smart to make sure that uninvited guests are not lurking. Read our article on how to improve conference call security to learn the best practices for securing your conference calls. Here are a few more tips to consider when hosting an extremely confidential conference call.

  • Remind attendees of the confidential nature of the call — At the beginning of the conference call, remind everyone that the call is for their ears only. Ask them to close their office doors for privacy, and if they are in a public space, to please leave the call until they can find a private environment.
  • Consider Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) — You may even want to use non-disclosure agreements, especially if the conference call involves highly sensitive information or is part of a merger/acquisition process. If your attendees have already signed NDAs, remind them that the call is covered under the NDA.
  • Prohibit call recordings — As the moderator of the call, you can certainly initiate a recording, which you will have full control over. Let your participants know that you’ll be recording the call should anyone need to review the information and explicitly state that any other recording is prohibited. Later, when sharing the audio file with participants, host it on a password-protected server and set an expiration date to assist with this conference call issue.
  • Don’t overlook other media — Many businesses use audio conferencing in conjunction with web conferencing for a richer multimedia experience. You may want to prohibit screen captures or limit the information that you share in your presentation. Similarly, it’s not unusual to share files or send attendees files as email attachments during or immediately following a conference call. PDF’s are another conference call issue. A little advance planning is helpful. For example, if you have a PDF that is relevant to the call but with a few lines of sensitive information, you could either password protect the PDF so that only your attendees will be able to open it in the future or redact the information you want to protect from prying eyes.

Conference Call Issues and Steps

Will these steps (in conjunction with dialing participants directly, locking your conference calls, and other conference calling security measures), stop all corporate spies, hackers, or unscrupulous individuals from their evil deeds? No, but they will put attendees on notice that you take the protection of your information seriously and that they should, too.

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CU SeeMe Early Video Conferencing Tech

Origins of Telecom: Early Video Conferencing Tech – CU SeeMe

CU SeeMe - Zeljko.filipin [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

Video conferencing has become the next best thing to being there in person, but it wasn’t always as easy and intuitive as it is today. In 1964 the first video phone technology, called Picture Phone, from AT&T debuted at the World’s Fair in New York. The 1980s saw the first video conferencing system from Compression Labs. By the 1990s, Macintosh released CU SeeMe, the first video conferencing software for personal computers, but it was limited to Macintosh users until 1995 when Windows version was released — and it was nothing like the full screen, high resolution video conferences you’re familiar with today.

CU SeeMe v0.1 arrived in 1992 as a video conferencing application that had no audio for the first two years of its existence. While you and another participant could see one another, you couldn’t hear each other unless you used a phone. Back then, webcams were not common. Thus, users needed to purchase a webcam in order to use the app. Likewise, Internet speeds back then were much slower than we’re accustomed to today with most users using dial-up networking. The video images were displayed in tiny 4-bit grayscale windows measuring either 320×240 or 160×120.

CU SeeMe was initially developed by Cornell University Information Technology as a free desktop videoconferencing tool to be used over high-speed campus-wide / company-wide LANs. While intended for high speed networks in an enterprise-type environment, individuals found their own uses for CU SeeMe, using the app over their slow dial-up networks to work, play, and interact with one another.

Users could also connect to what was known as a “reflector,” which gave them the ability to join a virtual community filled with other CU SeeMe users. More than 30 users at a time could join real-time video chats on any number of topics.

By 1994, audio support had been added, allowing for real-time videoconferencing without having to use a separate phone. However, many users didn’t use audio, opting instead to use the text chat feature included in the software. The use of voice was sometimes frowned upon due to factors such as the work environments at the time and the fact that many users didn’t have sound cards and speakers, and thus, wouldn’t be able to hear the audio.

In 1998, the commercial licensing rights were transferred to White Pine Software. A series of mergers and acquisitions and rebranding followed.

Today, CU See Me is largely a relic of the past, but it set the stage for the desktop video conferencing tools of today.

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Sources:
http://ftp.icm.edu.pl/packages/cu-seeme/html/Welcome.html
http://sattlers.org/mickey/CU-SeeMe/index.html
http://www.umich.edu/~comm464/virtcomm/mingchen/
https://www.eztalks.com/video-conference/history-of-video-conferencing.html
http://www.internetnews.com/bus-news/article.php/48951/White-Pine-Takes-Ownership-of-CU-SeeMe.htm

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