Despite all of the technological leaps made in recent years, conference call services remain one of the most
effective team collaboration tools available. Not only does a standard audio conference calling allow you to connect
a diverse group of team members cost effectively, conference calling services have expanded to embrace today's
Web and video conferencing technologies, making virtual meetings a reality. Let's take a look at the different
ways you and your team can connect.
Standard Toll Conference Calling
A standard audio conference call is one of the more traditional collaboration tools available. These calls are
either toll free with the cost of the call covered by the host or regular "toll access" (not toll free)
calls where each caller pays her or his own long distance rates incurred by the call. Depending on the makeup of
the team and its purpose, you'll want to evaluate which is best. For example, for an internal team of associates
scattered across the nation, flat rate conference calling makes the most sense. The same is true if your call will
be composed of external vendors or suppliers bidding on a project, it may make more sense to let the participants
pick up the cost of their individual connections to the conference call rather than your company covering the entire
An advantage of standard conference calling compared to email and online discussions is that participants can hear
each other and interact. Nuances of speech are more easily interpreted compared to the written word. In addition,
no equipment other than a phone is needed to connect.
Toll Free Conference Calling
A toll free access number to a conference call can remove any hesitancy participants may have regarding the cost
to join a conference call. There simply are no costs for the caller. So, a toll free access number is important
for conference calls that include potential new clients or existing customers where, you as the host, do not want
the invited conferees to pay anything to access your call.
Video Conference Calling
Video conference calling takes the standard phone call to the video level with both audio and video transmissions.
Like an audio call, the ability to hear the other participants speaking to one another allows for stronger communications.
With the addition of video, participants can pick up on non-verbal communications such as facial expressions and
gestures. Video conference call services also help collaborators view each other as "real" people. Video
conference calling requires a webcam and an Internet connection preferably with at least DSL broadband capacity.
Web Conference Calling
Web conference calling adds yet another dimension to the mix. With a Web conference, audio is almost always involved
and video sometimes used, depending on the systems used by participants. However, Web conference calls go beyond
video conferencing in that file sharing and screen sharing becomes possible. Team members can view the same presentations,
graphics, and charts during the conference. In addition, files can be distributed or even worked on during the
event. All Web conference participants need a computer with Internet access and a compatible browser. Depending
on the Web conference provider, a phone bridge using a standard conference call may also be involved.
So, what's the best option of the three? It comes down to the purpose of the meeting as well as access to the specialized
equipment. Do you need a quick weekly meeting to keep all team members informed of the team's progress? Is it important
to see each other via video, such as a "get acquainted" type of meeting? Do you need to share files or
give a presentation? Do your team members have access to the equipment needed to connect? By understanding the
nature of the meeting and the advantages and disadvantages of the different types of conference call services,
you can best match the right type of call for your meeting.
Conference calling services can improve team collaboration and communication. You may need a mix of services that
you'll use periodically as needed. For example, you might hold standard conference calls most of the time with
the occasional Web or video conference. No matter what mix of calling services is right for your team, using conferencing
technologies is a cost-effective way to collaborate with a geographically diverse team.
Does your team need a better way to stay in touch? While email and online portals have their place, it's not unusual
for team members to feel disconnected or misunderstood. Conference calling services can connect the team and enhance
AIT offers a variety of conference
calling services including toll free and toll access plans, international conference calling plans, and pay-as-you