Whether you’re overseas and urgently need to speak with your team back at home or have associates scattered around the world, hosting an international conference call is a fast, affordable way to have a conversation with a group of two or more people.
However, making an international conference call isn’t as simple as making a traditional phone call. Rest assured, it’s still easy, especially if you have a reliable, no-contract-required international conference call plan.
Why Choose a No-Contract international conference call?
Conference calling plans typically come in two flavors: contract-based and no contract plans. With a contract-based plan, you must sign up for a specific time period and pay a monthly fee for a predetermined number of conference calling minutes. With a no contract plan, you are not locked into a plan or required to maintain the plan in any way; you simply pay as you go. If you only need to make one international conference call a year, a no contract plan allows for this without penalizing you. If you need to make a 100 international conference calls a month, you can do that too.
How to Initiate an International Conference Call
Once you have a calling plan, you can either preschedule your international conference call or hold an impromptu one. In either case, your attendees will need to be invited to the call. Start by scheduling the call in your international conference calling plan’s account management dashboard. Once scheduled, you can then email the call’s details to the people you’d like to attend.
These details will include:
The call’s date and time
The phone number to call in the guests country
The conference’s PIN number
Because of the global nature of the international teleconference, many of your attendees will be located in different countries. This brings a few challenges to overcome including: time zone issues and toll free access problems. Thus, you’ll need to address each.
For example, a 2:00pm call originating in Los Angeles will take place at 11:00pm in Rome. To further complicate matters, that same call will occur on a different date if you have participants located on the other side of the International Date Line. For example, it would be scheduled for 5:00am in Singapore. Not only is it important to be aware of these differences, you should provide attendees with the correct time and date for their local time.
The next issue to overcome is the actual phone number itself. If you plan on offering toll free access to the international conference call, you can’t simply give everyone the same American 800 number because that number won’t work internationally. Instead, each country has its own toll free numbers. Therefore, your callers in Rome will dial a different toll free number than your callers in Singapore.
The numbers used to access your teleconference ring into the service providers conference calling bridge. In order to connect your attendees into the correct “conference room,” a PIN or access code is used. Each attendee must tell the conference calling bridge which conference room they want to join; they do so by entering the PIN or access code assigned to your conference when you originally scheduled it.
If this sounds complicated, don’t worry. Your international conference calling plan handles most of this for you. You’ll be given a list of toll free numbers and PINs to share with participants.
Alternately, you could use the automated group dial-out feature to pre-program the phone numbers of your call’s attendees. When it’s time for your conference call to begin, the automated group dial-out tool will automatically call all of your participants and prompt them to join the teleconference.
Recording Your International Conference Call
Many conference call hosts choose to record their calls. Recording calls ensures that attendees have the opportunity to review the call later if desired, and it also allows absentee participants to listen in after the fact. In some cases, call recording is used for documentation purposes whereas in others, it’s used as a training or educational tool.
For example, if your international conference call is intended to provide your team with formal training, it makes sense to record the call and the reuse it later when new team members need to participate in the same training. This can free the facilitator of the training from having to conduct a second (or third, fourth, fifth, etc.,) training session covering the same information. It can also ensure consistency as all team members will hear the same message.
Hosting an international conference call is a great way to stay connected with a globally diverse group of people. Not only is it an affordable option that’s available on a no contract, pay-as-you-go basis, it’s easy to use. Extra features such as auto dial-out and MP3 recording make using an international conference call system even easier and more beneficial.
International Conference Calling Tips for Moderators
You’ve just signed up for an international conference calling plan, now what? You’re officially a global conference call moderator. As the moderator of an international conference call, you have several roles and responsibilities. Use these tips to make your first, and subsequent, global conference call, a success.
Get to Know Your International Conference Calling Plan
As with any type of service, it’s smart to get to know the various features your new international conference calling plan offers as well as how to use them. Spend time exploring your online account management dashboard, read any tutorials or quick start guides offered, and set up a test call. By getting to know your international conference calling plan in advance, you’ll be less likely to stumble when you need to make your first conference call.
Don’t worry, international conference calling is easy to learn and use. Spend a few minutes getting acquainted.
Plan Your Conference Call in Advance
Whether you’ve moderated hundreds of global conference calls or are about ready to host your first one, planning your call in advance is advisable. Think about what the call’s purpose is, what needs to be discussed, and who needs to attend. By determining these three crucial points, you can then figure out how much time to allot for the call (based on the purpose and discussion points) as well as which countries will be involved in the call (based on who needs to attend).
Allotting sufficient time for the call is smart as you must manage costs and be respectful of your participants’ time. Ideally, you’ll want to stay within your budgeted timeframe without going overtime.
Identifying the countries involved in your international conference call helps you to schedule the call so that it’s as convenient as possible for the bulk of your participants. You can also use your country list to see if it makes sense to use moderator dial out to some countries. Some countries have dramatically higher rates for callers to call into your global conference call than it would cost for you to dial them directly. Look up your international conference calling plan’s rates for each country and choose moderator dial out where it makes sense. You can set up automatic dial out to these participants. At the appointed time, the system will dial them and connect them to your teleconference.
Take Advantage of Your Plan’s Tools and Features
Once the global conference call begins and all participants are on the line, begin your conference. While you could conduct the call successfully from this point forward, your international conference calling plan has several tools and features that can enhance the conference. Make sure to use them!
For example, what if one of your participants calls into the call from a noisy environment and doesn’t know how to, or has trouble with, mute the phone? Instead of subjecting all participants to background noise, you can mute the participant’s noisy line. You can also mute all participants’ lines except yours when you speak if desired. This is ideal for teleconferences where the moderator presents content to an audience of listeners.
Your international conference call can also be recorded for future use if desired. Create an MP3 recording of your call with just a few mouse clicks in your online conference call management dashboard. After the call completes, you can use the MP3 recording as you see fit. For example, you could make it available to participants who were unable to attend the call live, you could create a podcast, you could post it on your internal website for your employees to listen to at their leisure, and more. Many global conference call users use conference calls to create information products and then sell their MP3 recordings to interested parties.
If you need help during your international conference call, a live operator can help. Make sure to take advantage of operator assistance as needed. By handing off a problem to the operator, you can resume your presentation. For example, if a participant has emailed you informing you that for some reason she cannot connect to the conference, you could have the operator attempt to connect her to the call. This way, the teleconference is not unduly delayed due to a small hiccup affecting just one caller.
Holding a global conference call is a great way to communicate with participants located all over the world. It is also extremely affordable. With a pay-as-you-go international conference calling plan, you can hold conference calls as often as needed without minimum usage requirements. Make the most of your plan by taking the time to get to know it, planning your calls, and taking advantage of the tools and features available to you.
International Conference Calling for Healthcare Professionals
International conference calling is an important tool for healthcare providers around the world. Whether you’re a hospital administrator, doctor, nurse, dentist, chiropractor, researcher, insurance professional, or lab technician, international conference calling allows for cost-effective global collaboration no matter where you, your patients and your colleagues happen to be located.
What is International Conference Calling?
International conference calling is conference calling for participants located around the globe. While your facility may have a sophisticated phone system with conference calling capabilities, international conference calling brings its own set of challenges that your hospital PBX is not likely set up to handle.
For example, if multiple participants are located in different countries, many will have difficulty dialing an international phone number. International long distance fees may also be a concern, potentially stopping some participants from calling. While you could give participants your toll free number, it won’t work internationally, eliminating that as an option.
With international conference calling, these issues are handled. First, you’ll need to sign up for an international conference calling plan with a telecommunications service provider. Don’t worry, international conference calling plans are available on a pay-as-you-go, no contract basis with low per minute rates to hundreds of countries.
Once you have a plan, you can set up international teleconferences easily using an online account management dashboard. Simply select a time and date and schedule the call. You’ll be given a list of international phone numbers to distribute to attendees. If you opt for a toll free international conference calling, each participant can dial a toll free access code that will work in their countries. No matter which international phone number each participant is given, all will be connected to the conference calling “bridge” where an auto attendant will prompt them to access the conference call’s PIN number (which will be provided to them with the phone number). From there, your international conference call begins.
Is Conference Calling Still Relevant in the Instant Messaging Age?
Conference calling is a tried-and-true technology that continues to be relevant despite instant messaging, email, and video chats. There’s no need for anyone to use a computer in order to participate in a teleconference. In some countries, your colleagues may have limited access to the Internet, making Web-based conferences impossible. In addition, if you intend to hold a conference with a large group, using conference calling is the easiest option that can accommodate a huge number of participants.
Ideas for Using International Conference Calls in the Healthcare Industry
There are many terrific potential uses for international conference calling in the healthcare industry. Below are just a few ideas of how you might be able to connect with colleagues in a teleconference:
Consult with specialists – Do you have a patient with an unusual condition? You could hold an international conference call with leading specialists from around the world and get your questions answered. Likewise, if one of your patients is overseas and suffers a medical emergency, you could consult with his or her doctors as needed using an international teleconference.
Hold training sessions or workshops – Teleconferences are a great way to exchange knowledge. Whether you need to discuss new medications, sales techniques, practice management concepts, or insurance billing, an international conference call could be an effective medium for bringing a diverse group together.
Collaborate with healthcare professionals around the world – Traveling to other countries and touring healthcare facilities has its value, but it also has its costs both in terms of time and money. By using international conference calling, you can continue learning about other countries’ healthcare systems in an intimate, but less expensive, setting.
Speak with other researchers – Compare notes with other researchers no matter where in the world they may be. Whether your colleagues are conducting field research or you want to reach out to other experts, holding an international conference call is a cost-effective way to connect with others.
Stay connected with your team when traveling beyond borders – Whether you’re in Haiti on a humanitarian mission or in Italy on vacation, international conference calls allow you to speak with two or more team members from around the world.
Not only can you use international conference calling for global collaboration in a variety of scenarios, you can also record your teleconferences for future reference or use. You could use MP3 recordings of the call to refresh your memory, have the recordings transcribed, or make them available to your colleagues as appropriate. Recordings are also useful for training-related conferences because everyone can hear the same material both now and in the future.
Using an international conference call is easy, cost-effective, and beneficial to healthcare professionals who need to communicate with others around the world. How will you put international conference calling to good use?
How to Keep Your International Conference Call on Track
When it comes to international conference calling, your calls can easily run over your allotted time. Not only can individual speakers dominate the conversation or send the conversation off track, questions and answers sessions at the end of a global collaboration call can quickly gobble up valuable conference calling time.
While you certainly want to answer everyone’s questions, international conference calls that continue beyond the scheduled timeframe can quickly become more expensive than planned for. After all, you pay per participant, per minute.
In addition, participants may be reluctant to join future international conference calls based on fears that their time won’t be respected. Keeping your budget intact and your participants willing to join you in the future requires managing your international conference call to keep it on track.
Create a Global Collaboration Agenda
In order to stay on track, you will need a solid plan for the international conference call. The best approach is to create a global collaboration agenda and map out every topic you want to discuss. Your agenda could be as formal or informal as you need it to be.
For example, you may prefer to keep it simple by listing topics of discussions and assigning time limits to each one such as the following:
• Introductions / icebreakers – five minutes
• Discuss sales figures for quarter 1 − ten minutes
• Brainstorm ideas for increasing sales – ten minutes
• Training opportunities – five minutes
• Company news – five minutes
• Questions and answers – ten minutes
If you prefer more details, your global collaboration agenda could include the names of individual speakers, descriptions, and exact times such as the following:
8:00am – Introductions / icebreakers: Nancy introduces herself and asks each participant, one by one, to do the same.
8:05am – Discuss sales figures for quarter 1: Bob presents first quarter sales figures for the company as a whole. Recognizes Region 2 for top sales performance.
8:15am – Brainstorm ideas for increasing sales: Nancy guides the team through brainstorming session.
8:25am – Training opportunities: John from HR introduces new online learning portal and recommends the social media selling course for each regional manager.
8:30am – Company news: Nancy discusses pending acquisition, reassures team that it’s a beneficial move that brings more opportunities for personal growth.
8:35am – Questions and answers: Nancy and Bob to field questions.
8:45am – international conference call ends.
No matter how detailed you prefer to make your international conference calling agenda, the most important task is to identify the topics and allot sufficient time for each one.
Share Your Agenda with Participants
Agendas are valuable planning tools for international conference call moderators. However, they’re also useful for your call’s participants. If, in the example above, Nancy were to keep her agenda to herself, Bob and John might not realize that they’re expected to discuss first quarter sales results and training opportunities.
In fact, they’ll likely arrive unprepared because it’s impossible to read Nancy’s mind. Bob may need to excuse himself for a few minutes to find, download, and briefly analyze the latest sales figures. Meanwhile, John, who’s on the spot and unprepared, may discuss the wrong training program.
By sharing her agenda with Bob and John, Nancy is taking another proactive step to ensure that the global collaboration call moves efficiently from one topic to the next and that the exact topics she wants to address are discussed.
In addition to sharing the conference’s agenda with other speakers, consider sharing it with all participants in advance. This gives them a chance to prepare as well, and it shows them how their conference call time will be spent.
Use a Timer during the Conference Call
Use either a stopwatch or a timer during the conference call to ensure that each topic stays within its allotted time period. As the call’s moderator, you should take an active role in managing the call. For example, Nancy might prompt Bob that he has two minutes left to wrap up his presentation by saying, “Bob, this is fascinating.
You have about two minutes left. Would you mind telling us which region had the most sales this quarter and how other regions might emulate their success?”
Allow for Questions and Answers
Scheduling time for questions and answers at the end of an international conference call provides participants with the opportunity to ask questions. It also allows you to revisit topics that may not have had enough time to explore thoroughly earlier.
Make sure to schedule a Q&A session into each international conference call. Doing so gives you a little extra padding should your call run longer than expected. At the same time, if there are no questions, or if the Q&A session ends early, you can release participants from the call a few minutes early. No one appreciates a meeting that runs long, but most everyone appreciates getting out early.
Virtual Team Collaboration with an International Conference Call
As part of a virtual team, you may be called upon to work with people scattered across a wide geographic area. When that area crosses international borders, simple phone calls suddenly become more complicated. Hosting an international conference call is one way to facilitate global collaboration amongst your globally diverse team. Here’s a quick look at how you can use international conference calling without spending a fortune.
Start by signing up for an international conference calling plan. These plans are available on a no-contract, pay-as-you-go basis. By choosing a no-contract plan, you have the flexibility you need without getting locked into a yearly service that you may or may not need.
Schedule an international conference call. You can schedule your calls in advance or hold an impromptu international conference call if desired. Once your call is scheduled, you’ll need to let your virtual team members know which phone number to call in order to join the conference. With an international conference call, participants receive a local or toll free number to call that is specific to their countries. This addresses several concerns your team members may have about joining an international conference call. For example, the phone number will be local to each individual; no one needs an operator to help them connect to your call. In addition, your team members won’t need to worry about incurring expensive international long distance charges on their personal phones (the host of a toll free international conference call call typically pays for the call).
Hold the international conference call. At the appointed time, everyone dials their assigned phone number, enters an access code, and collaborates. Optionally, you can set up the system to automatically dial participants. Moderator dial out features are useful in several ways. For example, not only can you preprogram participants’ phone numbers into the system and initiate automatic dial out, you can also dial some participants individually in order to take advantage of lower per minute calling rates. This simple act could save you nearly 20 cents per minute depending on the countries involved. Moderator dial out also helps to ensure that no one forgets about the call.
In addition to selecting an international conference calling plan on a no-contract, pay-as-you-go basis, you can reduce your global collaboration costs by actively managing your conference. Use the tips below to squeeze the most value out of each international conference call you host.
1 Create and follow an agenda. Agendas are a terrific time management tool that help keep meetings and teleconferences on track. Using an agenda forces you to determine what to discuss and how long to discuss it. In order for an agenda to keep a teleconference from going over its time limit, you must actively follow it. Use a stopwatch, clock, or timer to time each segment of your international conference call. When the time limit is reached, move to the next agenda item. Leave a few minutes at the end of the teleconference for questions or to further discuss items that ran out of time.
2 Invite the right people. Because you pay for an international conference call per minute, per participant, you’ll want to make sure that you’re inviting the right people to attend. While your virtual team may consist of 20 members, is it necessary for the entire team to join every conference call you hold? For example, if you need to hold a conference call to brainstorm ideas for your company blog, your accountant, office manager, and legal advisor may not need to attend.
3 Record your teleconferences. If you decide that it’s not necessary for every team member to join your live international conference call, consider recording the call and making it available to the other team members to listen to at their leisure. Call recordings are also useful for participants who missed the live call or who live in time zones where live attendance would have been impractical.
4 Ask participants to use landlines rather than mobile phones. Calling rates are generally less expensive for traditional landlines than they are from mobile phones. If your virtual team is on a budget, asking participants to call from a landline instead of a cell phone is one way to reduce your call’s cost. You can check rates online to see which countries have the largest gap between landline and mobile phone rates.
Global collaboration using an international conference call is an affordable way for virtual teams to communicate. Affordable, no-contract plans are available loaded with desirable conferencing features including moderator dial out and MP3 call recording. How will your virtual team put international conference call to good use?
Using an International Conference Call – Global Collaboration Made Easy
Do you need to brainstorm ideas, go over project work, or introduce new products to a group of two or more people around the world? With the help of a low-cost international conference call, global collaboration is a simple matter of dialing a local or toll free number, entering an access code, and speaking with your collaborators.
Not sure you need an international conference call for global collaboration thanks to your phone system’s conference calling feature? While many corporate phone systems have complex PBX systems loaded with calling features, including conferencing, challenges arise when your collaborators are located around the world. For example, if your main phone number is an American 800 number, your collaborators located outside of North America won’t be able to connect using that 800 number. Sure, you could give them the standard local phone number to dial, but it will be unconventional looking to international callers accustomed to their own country’s dialing conventions. Plus, your callers will likely be concerned about the potential long distance costs they’re likely to incur.
How International Conference Calling Works
With an international conference call – global collaboration plan, you can overcome these challenges. With an international conference call, each country involved in the call a unique phone number for participants to dial into the conference. For example, your participants located in Italy will dial either a local Italian phone number or a toll free number for Italy while your participants in India will dial an Indian local phone number or toll free number for India. Local or toll free access depends on how you set up your international conference call.
Global collaboration using local numbers is one option. However, participants could still incur toll charges when dialing a local phone number in their country. For example, in a large city such as Los Angeles, dozens of calling regions exist as do multiple area codes. Simply ordering a Los Angeles phone number doesn’t guarantee that it will be local to your Los Angeles participants. With that in mind, most businesses opt for toll free international conference call – global collaboration plans.
There are hundreds of toll free access numbers to countries around the world. If your international conference call – global collaboration plan does not have a toll free number for one of your collaborator’s countries, an easy workaround is available: moderator dial out. Moderator dial out allows you to dial a given participant, or group of participants, directly. Their phones ring and they are connected to the international conference call. Global collaboration really is as easy as that!
Estimating Your international conference call Costs
As the host of the international conference call, global collaboration costs are billed to your account. In general, you will incur costs on a per participant, per minute basis. Per minute rates vary based on the country of each participant. For example, rates for callers located in the United States will be much lower than for callers located in the Philippines. Another factor that influences the rate charged for a given participant is whether or not the caller dialed from a mobile phone or landline as calling costs for the different phone types can vary.
You can look up international conference call calling rates to get a better idea of how much you will pay per minute for each caller based on the caller’s country. From there, you can estimate the cost of your overseas conference call if desired.
The cost of your international conference call is far less expensive than holding a face-to-face meeting. Holding an international conference call meeting is much easier, too. With a low-cost international conferencing plan, you can collaborate with others as needed with minimal hassles and dramatically lower costs.
International collaboration using a conference call is a cost effective choice that allows you to accomplish many tasks without the high cost of travel. For example, you can negotiate deals, conduct training, conduct creative brainstorming sessions, get feedback, conduct research, and much more with an international conference call. Just about anything you can do face-to-face, you can do on a teleconference. However, with audio-only conference calls, you may miss non-verbal cues such as facial expressions. In addition, not all callers will recognize one another’s voices. Use these tips to enhance communications during an international conference call.
Ask each participant to announce their names and departments before speaking – While you may recognize Glen from accounting’s voice, other participants might not. Asking each participant to quickly say their name and department or job role before they speak helps give context to their comments.
Use active listening techniques – Some participants may be difficult to hear or understand for any number of reasons. As the moderator of the international conference call, part of your job is to ensure that everyone is heard and understood. If the sound is muffled or a person’s accent heavy, it’s helpful to repeat what you believe was said and ask the speaker to confirm. For example, you might say, “Barbara from our San Diego logistics office just said our freight contract expires in two weeks. Did I hear that correctly Barbara?”
Allow a few minutes for questions and answers at the end – At the end of the international conference call, open up the meeting for questions and answers. As you wrap up the call, thank participants. You might even leave the lines unmuted for a few minutes, allowing for a little friendly banter which builds a sense of camaraderie.
Many international conference calls suffer needlessly because of telephone system quality issues. Many communications problems can be avoided by choosing an international conference calling plan known for quality connections.
Strategies to inspire attendance of International Conference Calls
Hosting an international conference call involves more than signing up for a teleconferencing account, scheduling the conference, and inviting participants. It also means keeping conference call attendees engaged and interested. If you’ve ever attended a boring or useless conference call, you know the pitfalls of poor planning. Use these tips to plan an engaging international conference call.
Determine what you want to accomplish before you schedule the call. By planning your topics beforehand, you’ll have a better idea of how much time you need. If you only need 20 minutes to accomplish the goal of the international conference call, schedule accordingly. Your participants would prefer a short, on-task meeting over an overly long one with no clear direction.
Create and distribute an agenda for the call in advance. Again, your attendees will appreciate knowing what to expect and how much time they’ll be required to invest in the teleconference. The agenda will also be helpful for potential attendees to determine if their attendance is necessary.
Adhere to the agenda’s topics and time limits. If you’ve designated 10 minutes for an individual to speak on a given topic, you may need to jump in if the speaker goes over the allotted time period. As the moderator of the call, it’s your job to moderate the pace of the call. If a speaker doesn’t use up the entire allotment, you can either use that time for questions and answers or wrap up the call a few minutes early. It’s helpful to have a list of alternate topics to discuss if time allows.
Use icebreakers at the beginning of the call. With an international conference call, you’ll have participants from around the globe. A quick icebreaker game or a short round of introductions can be fun and interesting to callers. For larger groups, individual introductions are time-prohibitive. In this case, a few shout outs, such as “We have callers from Hong Kong, Canada, London, and South Africa.” If you’re using the chat tool in conjunction with your international conference call, you could also prompt attendees to enter their names and locations in the chat box.
Offer an incentive to stay on the conference call. Staying on task and delivering relevant content are vital to your teleconference’s success. However, people often sneak out toward the end of the call for any number of reasons. One way to keep them tuned in is to offer an incentive at the end. It could be as simple as randomly awarding a $10 Starbucks card or offering a special offer on a product of interest to your attendees.
With advance planning and a solid agenda, your next international conference call can be a resounding success!
Holding an international conference call can be a one-to-many experience with the call’s host doing most of the talking or it can be much more collaborative. In either case, the success of the call often relies on how engaged attendees are. For example: Is the content relevant to them? Is the pace appropriate? And do attendees have the opportunity to share their thoughts or ask questions? Use the tips below to create a more engaging international conference call:
Prepare all participants – Everyone should understand the purpose of the call as well as their individual roles. Create and share the conference call’s agenda in advance so that all participants can prepare accordingly. If you expect individuals to contribute, let them know so that they understand your expectations and can arrive prepared. For example, if you expect the graphic designer to share three concepts during the call, the designer may want to upload PDF files of the design to a file-sharing site in advance so that the files are readily available to call participants during the teleconference.
Acknowledge attendees throughout the teleconference – You certainly don’t want to feel as though you are talking to an empty room; and your attendees don’t want to feel as though they’re not present. One way to avoid this is to use the interactive chat feature included in your international conferencing account. For example, you might encourage attendees to enter their questions in the chat box. If you do, have a co-moderator monitor the chat. Your co-moderator may be able to answer some of the questions in real time. Likewise, the most relevant questions can be selected to discuss during the Q&A section.
Respect everyone’s time – Finally, a bored audience is a disengaged audience. Keep your teleconference on task and relevant. Stick to its agenda and end the call on time – if not earlier if you’ve accomplished everything earlier than expected.
How Do Companies Use International Conference Calling?
Companies use international conference calls for all kinds of purposes. For some, the international conference call is a cheap way to keep virtual teams connected. For others, teleconferences are a convenient way to share ideas with a global audience. Some sales professionals use conference calls to pitch their products or negotiate deals. The possibilities are endless. Below are a few ways that businesses of all types have used international conferencing:
School is in session – Virtual schools, charter schools, colleges, and other educational institutions often use teleconferences as part of their distance learning programs. For example, students may be required to attend weekly teleconferences where they’ll be able to hear the instructor’s lecture, get their assignments for the week, and have the opportunity to ask questions. Schools also use international conference calling for administrative purposes such as staff meetings and as alternatives to in-person meetings.
Legal proceedings – Court reporters, lawyers, and litigation support services firms often use international conference calling to conduct some legal proceedings. Not only does doing so eliminate travel, it’s possible to record conference calls and the calling plan can create an accurate record of who was present during the call.
Board meetings – From charitable organizations to Fortune 500 companies, many businesses use international conference calls to hold virtual board meetings with attendees scattered around the world. This saves on travel expenses while accomplishing the agenda items.
Mentoring and coaching – Many businesses and entrepreneurs use teleconferences to mentor and coach others. One of the benefits of using an international conference call to host a mentoring or coaching session involves recording the call for later use. Not only can the original attendees benefit from the session, future ones can listen to the call and receive the same information.
These are but a few of the many ways that businesses use international conferencing. How will you use your international conference calling plan?
Virtual teams are made up of team members who typically work independently of one another. Some team members may work from home while others might work in various branch offices. Some may even belong to other companies. For example, a virtual team of volunteers coordinating a charity even may have team members from multiple organizations.
While face-to-face team or committee meetings are often held, they can also be impractical especially if the team is scattered across a large geographic distance. To solve this problem and facilitate communication, many virtual teams use international conference calling.
With conference calling, each person simply dials a designated phone number, enters an access code, and begins collaborating. No one needs to travel, and the international conference call can be as long or short as necessary. In addition to these obvious benefits, conference calling also allows for:
Call recording – By recording the call, individuals can go back and listen to it as needed. In addition, the call recording can be used as “meeting minutes” or be transcribed. Absent team members can listen to the call after the fact. Superiors and colleagues could also be invited to listen to the call after if appropriate.
Collaboration and team building – While email solves many communications challenges, it doesn’t necessarily build camaraderie. By holding regular conference calls, virtual team members can get to know each other on a more personal basis.
Anytime, anywhere conferences – With a pay-as-you-go teleconferencing plan, you can hold virtual team meetings anytime, day or night. There’s no need to preschedule your conference, allowing you to hold impromptu conference calls as needed.
Virtual team members often have conflicting work schedules, especially when working across multiple time zones. While some international conference calls may require some participants to attend at odd hours, they can do so from their homes or other remote locations. There’s no need to dress up, either.
If you have an international conferencing plan, you also have a host of features that you may or may not know about. The following four conferencing features are among the most useful. Use them to control the cost of your international teleconference, find out who is in attendance, record your conference for later use, and eliminate background noise.
Moderator Dial-out – Moderator dial-out allows you to dial participants directly rather than requiring them to dial into the international conference call. While you may not want to do this for every single attendee, it makes sense to do it for some. For example, dial-out rates are typically less expensive than toll free charges. If a participant lives in an expensive country, it could make sense to dial that participant directly. You can even preschedule dial-out and let the international conferencing plan dial a group of attendees simultaneously.
MP3 Call Recording – Recording your teleconference provides you with options later on. For example, you can share your MP3 recording with participants who were unable to attend the live call or who want to re-listen to the call. You could even repurpose the audio by using it as the basis of a podcast or informational product.
Attendance Tracking – Most international conferencing dashboards provide you with a real-time display of the conference call – including a list of attendees. Use this feature to document attendance.
Background Noise Control – Did you know that you can mute noisy callers? In some cases, you may want only one line open, the line of the person currently speaking. In others, you may want everyone’s line open so that the entire team can brainstorm ideas. While you can instruct everyone of how to mute and unmute their phones as needed, inevitably someone will forget. When this happens, distracting background noises such as computer chimes, ringing telephones, nearby chitchat, and even barking dogs disrupt the conference. The responsible caller may be unaware of the problem (or may even have stepped away from the phone). As the moderator, you can identify the source of the noise and mute it directly from your account dashboard.
These international conferencing features are easy to use, and they deliver important benefits. Make sure you know how to use them before your next international conference call.
Recording conference calls is a simple matter of clicking a button in your conference calling dashboard (if this feature is offered by your service provider). While you may not have given much thought to this feature, there are many benefits to recording conference calls. Below are just a few creative ideas to prompt you to click that button the next time you host a conference call.
You can include participants who were unable to attend the live event. By recording conference calls, you make it possible for those with schedule conflicts to listen in after the fact. For example, if you held a conference call and one of your law firm’s attorneys could not attend because she was in court all day, she could listen to the call later that night, the following day, or at some point in the near future. Recording conference calls allows absentee participants to receive the full value of the teleconference despite schedule conflicts. This also reduces your burden because you do not need to rehash everything that was discussed.
You can use conference calls to create reusable resources. Conference calls are often used for training purposes. By recording these teleconferences, you can reuse them indefinitely. Not only can this save time and resources, it also ensures that future trainees receive the same exact training and guidance that the original participants received.
Participants can listen at their leisure. By recording conference calls, you can offer participants a convenient option for receiving information. Not only can they choose when to listen to the recording, they can do so from virtually anywhere. MP3 recordings, for example, can be downloaded onto portable music players. Your participants could listen to your conference call while jogging, working out at the gym, or commuting to or from the office.
You can create podcasts with a conference call. While you may see your conference calling plan as an internal communications tool, your marketing team may see other possibilities. For example, you could create podcasts by recording conference calls and saving them as MP3 files. From there, you can upload them to iTunes or your website if desired. You could even create a series of audio recordings for a paid membership site.
Recording conference calls creates a valuable, reusable resource that you can use time and time again. You can use your MP3 conference call recordings internally or create podcasts for a wider audience. The possibilities are endless!
Is a Pay-as-You-Go or an Unlimited Conference Call Plan Right for You?
Thinking of signing up for a pay-as-you-go or an unlimited conference call plan but not sure which one makes the most sense for you? Here’s what you need to know before you make your choice.
How Pay-as-You-Go Conference Call Plans Work
With a pay-as-you go plan, you do just that. You pay for each conference call as you go. Though both pre- and post-paid plans are common, you typically pay only for the minutes you use.
These plans are extremely flexible. They are ideal for companies with erratic usage patterns. If you don’t expect to make any conference calls some months, a pay-as-you-go plan with no minimum usage requirements is a terrific choice because you won’t have to pay for a service that you aren’t using. Meanwhile, on the months when you need to make conference calls, you can do so at a fantastic rate. In fact, you can make unlimited conference calls with a pay-as-you-go plan; however, you will be responsible for paying for all of the minutes you use. If you frequently have high volume months, an unlimited plan may be a better option.
How Unlimited Conference Call Plans Work
An unlimited conference call plan allows you to make an unlimited number of conference calls for a flat fee. Though “unlimited,” most unlimited conference call plans do have limits. For example, your plan may limit the number of participants you can invite to each conference call. Your flat monthly fee will reflect these limits. The more attendees the plan allows, the higher the monthly fee will be.
Which Plan is Right for You?
Let’s say you have five partners who need to speak on the phone regularly. You could either pay as you go or get an unlimited conference call plan for up to five participants. In order to determine the best option, consider the following:
How often do the partners need to use a conference call each month?
Will usage be consistent or will there be some months where no activity is expected?
How many minutes in total will be used in a typical month?
What are the per minute rates for a pay-as-you-go plan? How much will a typical month cost?
What is the cost for a suitable unlimited conference call plan? Is it less than the pay-as-you-go plan?
Is the cost of an unlimited conference call plan low enough to justify keeping the plan during slower months?
Are the per minute rates of a pay-as-you-go plan low enough to justify a few higher volume months?
The right type of conference calling plan will depend on your usage and the answers to these questions. If you choose a no-contract plan, you can change plans as your usage patterns change.
After signing up for an international conference call plan, you have access to a valuable communications tool that can bring your entire global team together. While most conference calling services are generally easy to use, time differences can make scheduling a conference call challenging. Below are a few tips to help you schedule a global teleconference that accommodates most of your team.
Identify all countries and states/provinces involved in the international conference call. Use either an Excel spreadsheet or a piece of paper to list each country that will be involved in your call. This list may be overwhelming at first, especially if you have a lot of countries involved. If you have participants from large countries such as the United States or Canada, your list will need to be broken down further into states and provinces to accommodate different time zones. At this point, don’t worry about the size of your list; it will become more manageable as you break it down into time zones.
Use a world time zone map. GreenwichMeanTime.com has a world time zone map that you can print. Use a highlighter and mark each country. Not only will you be able to see which time zones your callers are in, you may also see clusters of callers in the same general time zone. This will make it easier to choose a time that’s most convenient for the majority of participants. Look for clusters that span an eight-hour time period as you may be able to schedule a call that occurs during business hours for all of those countries.
Choose a convenient time of day for the majority of your participants. While your company may be based in New York, if the bulk of your international conference call participants are located in Naples, Italy, it may be best to schedule your call during normal business hours in Naples. Note that there’s a five-hour time difference between New York and Naples. This means that you could schedule an international conference call that takes place during normal business hours for both countries. In this example, a call that takes place at 9:00 AM New York time would be convenient for your Naples participants because it would be 2:00 PM local time for them.
Finally, use MP3 recording to record your international conference call so that participants who cannot participate have the option to listen in after the fact.
US conference call with employees, virtual team members, colleagues, and business partners scattered across the United States, collaboration becomes more challenging. While a variety of online technologies and mobile apps help facilitate collaboration, sometimes you need to connect audibly.
Hosting a U.S. conference call is a great way to get the entire team together for a voice meeting. While free and low-cost conference calling options are available, it’s important to find the right balance between features, quality, and cost. Though paid and toll-free plans may be more expensive than a so-called free US conference call, it is possible to get the features you want at an attractive and affordable rate.
The Problem with Hosting a Free US Conference Call
Free conference calls aren’t as free as they sound. If you choose a free conference call plan with a local phone number in Washington, DC, everyone who calls in from outside of the area will incur toll charges. This option can be attractive in some circumstances but is detrimental in others. For example, some participants may have concerns about how much the call will cost them; as a result, they may opt out of the call. If your U.S. conference call involves an interesting prospect, the prospect could be concerned about the non-local phone number or question your cost sensitivity to others or credibility.
Some free US conference call providers offer free conferences with advertisements. Others use unreliable VoIP telephone networks with poor sound quality. Ads and interference may be fine when you need to collaborate with your assistants but could be disastrous when your professional image is at stake.
If your US conference call will involve customers, prospects, VIPs, or budget-conscious consumers, it’s smarter to provide them with toll-free access to the conference call or use the moderator dial-out option, if available, to call these individuals directly.
US Conference Call Conference – A Paid and Affordable Alternative
In the US, toll-free conference calling rates are extraordinarily low. While you’ll pay for each minute per participant, per minute rates of less than a nickel a minute are available. Imagine a 60 minute U.S. conference call with five participants at a rate of 4 cents per minute. The entire group could collaborate via the US conference call for just $12 per hour.
Holding a toll free U.S. conference call is an affordable choice that doesn’t jeopardize your reputation or subjects your participants to advertisements or toll charges. It’s not necessary to enroll in a long-term conference calling contract, either. Choose a pay-as-you-go conference calling plan and enjoy low-cost conference calling as needed.
Tips to Lower the Cost of Your Next International Conference Call
To frame this post correctly, these are tips about reducing costs on professional, high quality, business class, full service, excellent line clarity, toll-free international conference calling. Versus a conference call service which provides an experience similar to when you were a kid and created your own walkie-talkie system made out of two cans and a string 🙂
Being able to say “That went well” after your overseas conference call. Isn’t that the goal?
Instead of: “people were cut off and we couldn’t hear some participants, and some couldn’t dial-in, the call sounded muffled, voices were fragmented. My boss was not happy“.
No joke, this is what we hear from customers that have tried many international conferencing alternatives but always come back to wanting their call experience to be great for everyone on the call as opposed to having numerous quality issues too lengthy to go into here. Most of the problematic conferencing services claim to be free.
Hosting an international conference call is a cost-effective choice for communicating with colleagues, employees, customers, vendors, suppliers, partners, and even loved ones from around the world. Not only can the entire group discuss important matters using a low-cost international conference call, several options are available to further reduce the cost of your next call. Use these tips to plan and execute your next global teleconference.
Identify the countries with the most expensive international conference calling rates – International conference calling Toll-Free access rates vary dramatically by country. For example, you’ll pay about 10 times more per minute for a caller in the Philippines than you will for callers in Canada. If your international conference call is just a few minutes long, this may not be a big factor; however, if your call lasts an hour, you’ll pay nearly $50 for each caller from the Philippines and about $3 for each caller from Canada for that 60 minute call.
Use moderator dial-out for callers with expensive calling rates – Moderator dial-out is a feature that you can use to take advantage of lower per minute rates. With this option, the chairperson dials callers in expensive countries rather than requiring them to dial into the international conference call. Participants are still able to participate in the global teleconference, but your costs will be significantly lower. For example, you could slash your per minute rate for callers from the Philippines by about 70 percent.
Dial-out works for any country. Country rates are usually lower than toll-free number access using dial-out. The host has no constraints as to what country the participant is located in. Only the participant’s overseas phone number is needed for the chairperson to dial-out to the attendee and place him/her into the call. Dial-out rates depend on the country. You should compare dial-out rates to toll-free access rates.
Encourage mobile participation – While your current international conference calling plan most likely works on mobile phones, VoIP phones, and landlines alike, callers using mobile phones to dial into your international conference call may be subject to excessively high mobile calling rates. If you are hosting the call and offering toll free access to participants, encourage participants to dial from landline phones if at all possible. Use your best judgment on this one as you may not want to impose on VIPs and potential customers. That said, if you have employees sitting at a desk with both a landline and a mobile phone, it makes sense to ask them to use the landline.
In order to slash the cost of your next international conference call, focus on the participants that are most likely to incur the highest costs. Use Leader dial-out to reduce your per minute rates for participants from expensive countries.
Whether you’re forming a committee, organizing a team of service providers, or need to communicate with managers from branch offices, conference calling is a cost-effective means of communication.
All you need is a conference calling plan and the desire to hold group meetings over the phone. With the right calling plan, you can hold impromptu and scheduled conferences with minimal fuss.
Why Use Conference Calling
Any time you have three or more individuals working on a team from different locations, phone communications become more difficult. Rather than holding multiple phone calls, use a conference call to keep everyone informed and engaged.
Conference calling allows you to:
Hold group meetings over the phone – Why hold a meeting in the office or a conference center when your entire team can collaborate over the phone?
Eliminate costly meeting room rentals – If you usually rent meeting space, a conference calling plan can quickly save your business a substantial amount.
Record group conversations for later review – Some conference calling plans feature MP3 recording. You can then email the MP3 file to team members who were unable to attend the teleconference.
Eliminate travel expenses – Need to meet with team members from across the country or around the world? Instead of booking flights, rental cars, and hotel rooms, plan a conference call. Just about any topic can be discussed in a teleconference.
Improve productivity – Conference calling requires much less time than physical meetings. There’s no commuting, no need to take anyone on a grand office tour, and no need for small talk before and after the meeting. Simply host the conference and begin at the appointed time.
Hold impromptu meetings – Conference calling can be used on the spur of the moment, allowing you to hold meetings with key team members during times of crisis or inspiration.
How Conference Calling Works
When you think of conference calls, what comes to mind? Complicated phone systems and speakerphones are no longer the norm.
Today, conference calling service providers make conference calling a simple process that can be carried out on any phone including mobile phones and smartphones.
Here’s how it works:
Sign up for an international or domestic conference calling plan, ideally one with low per minute rates and no monthly fees, contracts, or penalties.
Notify your participants when the call will take place.
Share the conference call’s details including scheduled time, phone number, and “PIN” number with attendees.
At the appointed time, everyone dials the phone number, enters the PIN number, and the conference begins.
As the conference moderator, you may have several tools available to you in an online dashboard. For example, you should be able to mute and unmute callers, dial participants, and start MP3 recording.
Once the conference is over, everyone hangs up. Depending on your conference calling plan, you will most likely be billed per minute, per participant.
Conference calling is a low-cost alternative to holding live meetings.
The more you use your conference calling plan, the more indispensable it will become.
Any successful business will usually agree that communication is crucial to the attainment of business goals and objectives especially for business entities that are global.
Advancement in technology has led to the development of conference call features that enables collaborative meetings over the phone without requiring physically being together in a boardroom.
However, it is recommended to plan well for this event so as to ensure that everything takes place as planned.
Below are some tips on how to plan a conference call like a professional.
Set the date and time:
Just like face-to-face meetings, you have so set a date and time that you intend to hold the meeting. If some of the participants are located in different time zones, ensure that you facter in their local time so as to avoid any conveniences. Bottom line is, the set date and time should be convenient for all the participants, if possible.
Communicate with the attendees:
It is important to send an agenda and communicate it all the associates so as to keep them informed on the specific topics that will be discussed during the meeting. This will help them prepare and save time. In addition, it will provide them with all the relevant information such as dialing instructions as well as Pin Numbers so as to ensure that the meeting takes place smoothly. In addition, you should develop a criterion that will be used to ask and answer questions so as to foster attainment of the meeting objectives.
The agenda should encompass all the topics to be discussed. Be sure to allocate enough time to each task so as to achieve the expected results. Remember to send the final agenda document to all the members to avoid any confusing during the meeting.
You may want to contact the attendees just to be sure that they received the agenda.
Let us proceed and look at some of the major benefits that can be derived from this form of communication.
Conference calls are more economical on time and money since participants do not have to travel to the designated conference area. Instead, all they need to do is ensure that their telephone line or internet connection is working. This in turn helps businesses save thousands of dollars that could have would have been spent on housing and transport costs.
Most conferences calling services can be accessed from virtually all online platforms. Hence, businesses are able to still hold meetings and carry on with their daily business activities conveniently. In addition, it is possible to re-organize or re-schedule the meetings in case of any unforeseen occurrence easily. It is also important to note that this mode of communication is not prone to various problems such as traffic jams, flight delays and a long list of other items associated with meetings in another city or country.
Virtually all businesses have strict confidentiality rules. These calls are totally safe and secure since only the participants have access to the system. All attendees will have their caller ID’s visible to the host who uses the free online roster feature.
Conference call is indeed the most convenient and modern way of holding corporate meetings especially the international conference call.
We offer the best conference call services at very affordable rates. In order to meet diverse client needs, we have tailored out services into different packages hence no matter your specific needs we have a solution for you.