Using conference calls for business purposes is an efficient way to communicate with remote participants from around the world.
However, teleconference services come in several different flavors, some of which are suitable for some business purposes but not others. With this in mind, view the list of common conference call services below to choose the right domestic or international conference calling service for your specific business purpose.
Domestic Group Audio Calls
Domestic group audio calls are one of the most common types of business conference call. These calls involve three or more participants, all located in the same country.
For example, a lawyer in Los Angeles, California may need to hold a group audio call with a local client, several of the firm’s partners located at various offices, and an expert witness in Chicago, Illinois. Because they are all located in the United States, the lawyer could initiate the conference call using a domestic conference calling service.
Alternately, the domestic group call could be initiated through the law firm’s PBX, assuming it has conference calling capabilities and can support the designated number of attendees.
Generally speaking, domestic conference calls are the easiest for business users to set up, manage, and join. Attendees are typically given an access number (which may or may not be toll free depending on the service) to call along with a PIN number. They simply dial the access number and enter the PIN to join the conference.
International Conference Calls
International conference calls for business purposes work in much the same way, but they involve callers from two or more countries. In our previous example, the expert witness was in Chicago, but what if he was located in Scotland or Hong Kong?
What if one of the lawyer’s partners was in Argentina on a business trip? Domestic conference calling services do not support international callers, and callers from abroad are blocked from dialing US toll free numbers.
Obviously, flying expert witnesses in from overseas would be cost prohibitive, and waiting for the other partner to return could cause unnecessary delays. Using an international conference calling service is a much better choice.
International conference calling involves dialing an access number and entering a PIN, just as with domestic service providers. However, call participants dial local or toll free access numbers local to their own countries.
These international access numbers help keep individual costs to a minimum, eliminate dialing confusion, and connect all participants into a single conference room where they can collaborate, negotiate, build relationships, brainstorm ideas, and more.
Because they are easy for everyone involved, international conference calls are used for a variety of business purposes such as:
- Sales meetings — Bring regional sales managers together in a group audio call
- Mergers and acquisitions — Iron out the details of a merger or acquisition by hosting a series of international conference calls
- Recruiting — Pre-screen international job candidates (and save on travel costs) by holding introductory interviews in a group conference call
- Virtual team meetings — Make sure everyone’s on the same page, despite geographic differences, by holding periodic international conference calls
Web conferencing is also a good option for communicating with a group of participants domestically or internationally, but there’s an added element of complexity as participants may need to install software or use a certain type of device such as a webcam.
Web conferencing does allow for a more interactive experience and is ideal when you need to share your computer screen or present your ideas visually. Participants can view slideshows, share files, and chat via audio, webcam, or text messaging — and participants can be located anywhere in the world as long as they have an Internet connection and a compatible device.
The downsides of Web conferencing include: audio and video quality (data is routed over the Web, so delays, dropouts, and other issues are at play), hardware and software requirements, the learning curve, and Internet access requirements.
When should you use Web conferencing over international conference calls? For business purposes where you need to share files and visual information in real time.
Web conferencing is commonly used for the following business purposes:
- Software demos and training
- “Webinars” where a sales presentation is presented to a group
- Team meetings where files may need to be exchanged or screens shared
- Video interviews and depositions where non-verbal cues like facial expressions can tell more of the story
- Negotiations where it may be expedient to be able to send a contract instantly or set up an account together
Skype for Business
Skype for Business is another cost-effective option that allows you to host online audio or video meetings with up to 250 participants. Skype for Business is available as a standalone plan or as a part of Microsoft Office 365.
Some of the features Skype for Business users appreciate include:
- Integration with Outlook
- File transfers via instant messaging
- Group instant messaging
- Advanced meeting options like polling and Q&As
Skype for Business is often used for internal communications, and some external calls, within an organization, but it can get expensive with its per user, per month fees. To get the best price, you must commit to an annual subscription. Another potential downside is that audio, video, and Web conferencing use VoIP rather than traditional voice networks. This can result in sound quality issues.
As you can see, each of these business conferencing options has its place. If most of your conference calls take place within a single country, a domestic service may be just right. If you need the ability to share screens or files during the conference, a Web conferencing solution or Skype for Business might be just right. If you have international participants, an international conference calling plan will be essential — and sound quality of utmost importance.
Sometimes, simplicity is best, and making international conference calls for business purposes is as simple as it gets when you choose one of our high quality, pay-as-you-go international conference calling plans.
Find out more about US, Canada and International Conferencing Services here