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How to Set Up a Conference Call

November 27, 2018

12:09 pm

As your company grows in size and flexibility, it will become more and more difficult for your team members to stay connected. But there’s no need to shy away from success and expansion, or tie employees to their desks. You simply need to know how to set up a conference call.

In both personal and business relationships, communication is more important than anything. And while texting between significant others works fine, a comprehensive conference call system can make all the difference when it comes to facilitating communication within a growing company.

Everyday users can sometimes have trouble figuring out how to use an advanced conference calling platform, but of course “it’s easy when you know how”. We’ve written this guide to help you learn how to set up a conference call, from start to finish.


How to Set up a Conference Call


Create an Account with Conference Call Software

As with most business tools, conference calling isn’t just readily available at the click of a button. You’ll need to find a conference call service and set up an account for your business, which may take bit of time. Fortunately, we’ve done the research already and found the best conference call services that are available in 2018, so you can get started right away.

 Zoom

Zoom is an incredibly easy to use conference call software with amazing video quality across mobile and desktop services. It comes with a wide range of helpful collaboration features, including their patented Zoom Rooms designed for larger groups to communicate. Audio quality isn’t great, but the ease of use and plentiful features more than make up for it.

Lifesize Square Logo Lifesize

Lifesize is a versatile conference call service that boasts 1080p video and HD audio, so you know you’ll be able to communicate effectively. With interoperability across operating systems and devices, you can use it anywhere at anytime. Plus, it integrates with Cisco, Skype for Business, Avaya, Polycom, Radvision, and Microsoft Lync, so you’ll have plenty of options once you get it set up.

Webex Square Logo Webex

Webex is a conference call system powered by Cisco, a leader in the business communications technology sector. Their platform is affordable, easy to set up, and provides a wide range of communication features that will connect your team no matter where they are. Reviews have shown that this service does experience the occasional bandwidth issue, but with the resources of Cisco, you should be more than fine.

Free Alternatives

If your company doesn’t have a pressing need for conference call software, there are a number of free alternatives out there that can get you by. From Google Hangouts to Skype, these popular services are great when you need to occasionally communicate with someone on your team. Just remember there’s a reason they’re free: expect lower video and audio quality, which may impede productivity, less features, and limits on the number of users who can join.

PolyCom RealPresence Trio 8800Conference Call Hardware

If you’re worried about having to find specific phones to work with these systems, have no fear. Most conference call software will work with a variety of hardware, as well as softphones such as desktop computers, so you can just use what you’ve got.

However, some companies do build specific video end point devices to use with their software or even have conference call phones designed specifically to work well with their systems. Polycom, for example, has a wide range of devices with conference-focused features that can block out background noise, improve audio quality, and provide easy set up with huge color displays.


How to Set Up a Conference Call

Once you’ve set up an account with one of these conference call services, you’ll be ready to start your first online meeting.

  • First, pick a date and a time for when you’d like to hold the conference call.

Any time is fine. There’s no need to request a space from the conference calling software company- a virtual conference room space will be available to you 24/7. You can set up a call as a host, or join as a guest, exactly when it suits you.

Some conference calling software will let you to see when team members are free or not, helping you to pick the right slot to invite your guests, then send out an invite directly from the software.

  • When the time comes, how do your guests join the conference call?

It depends on whether you’re setting up an audio-only phone-based conference call or a video conference call.
The setup process will vary slightly depending on your software choice but the basics are always pretty much the same:

Audio Conference Calls

  • If you’re setting up an audio-only conference call guests will typically be asked to dial in to a specific local number on a phone system.

You”ll be given the number for your guests to dial when you set up your account, or when you choose the date and time of your call. You can then put the right phone number on your invite.

  • Some services will also ask guests to provide a PIN code when they connect to the call, to enter the meeting. This is for added security.

Again, the software will provide you with any PIN codes you need to tell your guests before you send out the invite. You may have a consistent set of PIN codes that guests always need to use when conference calling through your account. Think of these as passcodes for various virtual offices guests might want to enter for virtual meetings there. Alternatively you may be given a one-time PIN code for a specific conference call.

  • Because there’s no video component, audio conference calls will usually insist participants record their names when joining the call, much like an out-going voicemail message.

This is so the host, and others, know who is in the meeting, even if they’re just listening.

Video Conference Calls

In most cases, video conference calls are notably easier to set up compared to their audio-exclusive counterparts.

  • Guests will typically just have to click a link, and they’ll be immediately taken to the virtual meeting room.

Your link is created and can be shared as soon as you choose the date and time for your conference call.

  • In the event you don’t have access to a computer, or even an accompanying app, most services will still allow you to dial in with a provided number as well.

Although you obviously won’t have video capabilities unless you have an advanced video-calling enabled phone handset.

Depending on which conference call software you have and who you’re calling with it, you can even invite guests within the platform itself. Check out this example video from Lifesize that shows you how to do exactly that:


Running Your Conference Call

You might think that the hard part is over now that the meeting has started and everyone has arrived, but running your conference call takes just as much focus as getting it set up.

For one, there are a wide range of features that you should use to your advantage.

  • The mute function is important when you need to keep everyone focused on one speaker
  • The “raise a hand” feature allows meeting guests to interject without being disruptive
  • Screen sharing is perfect for showing attendees how to do something in training sessions
  • Screen recording can make it easy to share video with other coworkers that couldn’t attend

And the list goes on. Hosts will have dominant control over these sorts of features, and each individual software will offer instructions on how to use them. It may be that guests have to dial a specific number or code to “raise their hand” or mute and un-mute their sound on an audio-only call. Or there may be various buttons available alongside video conference calling software.

Conference Call Best Practices

Additionally, there are some tried and tested best practices that you can follow to make sure everyone is getting the most out of your conference call. Check them out below so you can run your meeting as productively as possible.

  • Be on Time: This is good advice in pretty much any setting, but it rings particularly true when it comes to conference calls. There’s nothing more awkward than sitting and waiting for the host to show up, so make sure you keep to your schedule and start meetings on time.
  • Be Prepared: Always make sure you have prepared the flow of the meeting ahead of time so you don’t get sidetracked. The best way to facilitate an unproductive meeting is to wing it.
  • Introduce Yourself: Not knowing who you’re talking to is a great way for a meeting to get off track, particularly when it’s just an audio conference. If you’re the lead for the meeting, be sure to introduce others as well, to foster some collaboration.

Overall, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings, online and in person, when running a conference call. Whether it’s muting yourself in hectic situations or finding a quiet space when background noise gets too loud, being considerate of other guests is the key to a smoothly run conference call.


Ending Your Conference Call

Creating an account, setting up your first meeting, and running the conference call were admittedly a little complicated, but you made it! If you followed the advice above your guests will have been guided clearly, intrigued and engaged for the duration of the call, and have now come away a little smarter than they were before.

It’s time to end your conference call, which is probably equally as complicated and thorough as getting it started, right? Wrong! To end your meeting, all you have to do is hang up and exit the meeting. No log-offs, no exit routines, no cool-downs, nothing! Just close your computer and you’ll be on to the rest of your productive day.


Conference Call FAQs

Learning how to set up a conference call is one thing. But if you’re going to utilize the technology to effectively communicate with your entire team, you’re going to need to know the ins and outs of it. We’ve answered a some of the most important frequently asked questions here.

How many people can join my conference call?

Depends on your software. Most free services allow between 10-25 participants in conference call meetings, whereas paid services will typically allow between 100-250 participants. Some services, like Webex, have enterprise plan options, which allow up to 1000 participants for company-wide meetings or webinars, but this comes at an additional price.

What happens if my guests dial in too early? Or too late?

Whether your conference guests dial in too early or too late, it shouldn’t cause any issue with the overall meeting. Guests that dial in early often simply wait in the virtual meeting room, sometimes treated to hold music provided by the software. If the guest is unusually early, some software prompts users to check the time of their meeting after a period of no activity, or gives the date and time of the next meeting, in case it was changed without the guest’s knowledge.

Conference meeting guests that dial in late similarly have nothing to worry about. They’ll simply be dropped into the meeting with everyone else. If you are late though, your tardy presence will be felt, as most services will announce the name or provide a notification when someone enters a meeting.

Does it cost money to dial into a conference call?

Very rarely will you have to pay to dial into a conference call, with any service. You’ll almost always be provided with a free PIN code or URL that should take you directly to the meeting in question.

The only time you might be asked to pay for access to a meeting is through a free service, and that’s only if the host asks you to split the costs. But if you’re holding a smaller meeting, there should be no reason to pay an additional fee.

What about international guests dialing in from other countries?

If your conference call services uses the internet to connect guests, there should be no difference between local and international conference calls. However, some services require guests to dial in with a local number, which can complicate international meetings. Fortunately, most services will provide alternative local numbers for international users to avoid long distances fees.

Why should I pay for conference call software when some services are free?

Excellent question. While free services get the job done, they leave a lot to be desired, particularly with larger companies across large distances. Free services forego added features like polling and annotating, which makes effectively communicating a bit more of a hassle.

Additionally, paid services provide higher quality audio and video, so it feels like you’re actually in the room, rather than talking through a garbled connection. You’ll be able to actually communicate with your team, and isn’t that the point?

Are conference call discussions, screen sharing and recordings secure?

Conference calling is typically a very secure business. Even the free services provide thorough encryption of sessions, with PIN codes or unique URLs, which makes it hard for anyone to hack them. Conference call features like recording and screen sharing don’t hinder these security measures, so use them as you see fit.

How do I stop conference call echo or unwanted feedback?

If you’ve been in a conference call before, this has no doubt happened to you. Fortunately, there is an easy solution to this common problem: turn your volume down!

Unwanted echo or feedback often happens when one participant’s volume is too loud, and it’s feeding back into the microphone. If adjusting the volume doesn’t help, insist that all conference guests mute their microphones when they aren’t talking. It’s a bit of a hassle, but so is listening to that horrible echo.

Do conference call providers offer free trials?

Depending on the service, you should be able to try out a conference call system for free for at least a few weeks. With free trials ranging from 14 days to a whole month, you’ll be able to see which service works best for you, before shelling out the big bucks.


Get Conference Call Software Today

Conference call systems come in all shapes, sizes, and prices. To fully understand how a conference call system can help your company, get a tailored quote from a conference call company today by simply filling out this quick form for your free no-obligation price quote.

Click here to get a customized price quote for web conferencing services now

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Conor is a writer, comedian and world-renowned sweetheart. As the Assistant Editor and Writer at Tech.Co, he’s written about everything from Kickstarter campaigns and budding startups to tech titans and innovative technologies. His background in stand-up comedy made him the perfect person to host Startup Night at SXSW and the Timmy Awards for Tech in Motion. In his spare time, he thinks about how to properly pronounce the word "colloquially." Conor is the Assistant Editor and Writer at Tech.Co. You can email him at conor@tech.co.

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