How do you make your conference calls? You perhaps place one call at a time and add each person to the conference individually. That’s so last century. What you need is a call conference bridge. Fundamentally, a call conference bridge acts like a hub-and-spoke. Everyone in the conference call dials a local number (spoke) and gets plugged into the conference (hub) automatically.
But here is the juiciest use we can think of for a call conference bridge: if your family is spread across several cities, get them connected for a cozy, never-ending chat. Get mama, chacha, bhateeja, bhabhi, nana, everyone, into one chaotic call and have the time of your life.
Business and personal use
Regardless of whether you are a large company or an SME (small and medium enterprise), a club (single malt buddies) or a special interest group (The Jane Austen Book Club) that needs to communicate regularly through conferences, you should be using a conference bridge. A conference bridge ensures that everyone takes the responsibility to dial into the conference at the same time. Here are a few examples of conference bridge usage: for collaboration, meetings, training, presentations, distributing information to stakeholders, updating calls with clients and agents.
But a call conference bridge is even more fun if you use it for personal purposes. Somehow, you feel you are diddling the phone companies of their long-distance revenue by having multiple people in different cities connected via local calls. And that feeling is worth savouring.
So you may be a bunch of college friends who want to chat, a group of folks who gave their Six Sigma certification exam together (that’s one exam which can be quite a binding force) or elders trying to plan a family wedding—it’s worth exploring the use of a call bridge in every case.
Free conference calls
You can always own a conference bridge—costs vary. But “owning” is a solution for very large organizations. Families who want to jabber for fun can use a free conference call service. Take a gander at Sabse Bolo, the first such free service in India (www.SabseBolo.com).
Sabse Bolo can conference up to 10 callers at a time. If the callers are from Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Delhi or Kolkata, they dial a local number, and avoid long-distance bills.
All you need to do is register on the website, get your “Conference and Personal ID”, and you are set. Next, tell everyone whom you want in the conference to dial in a given number (given by Sabse Bolo) and use the Conference ID and PIN when prompted. That’s it. No set-up. No fee. No special instruments. The service is for you to use 24x7. But, of course, you may have to listen to a couple of adverts before you are placed in the conference.
Features for business
If you have people who need to be conferenced from across the world, you will need to use a paid bridge service. Several, such as the one from Airtel, are available. Businesses should opt for paid services where you have the option of recording, playback and downloading, so that those who missed it can catch up at their own pace. Many services offer handy Web-based, no-cost VoIP connections. And you may want to use one that also offers transcription services for the call.
But the single most convenient feature of a paid service is the dial-out facility. This means that at the time the conference should begin, the service calls everyone, pulling participants into the conference. No one can claim they “forgot” to join the conference.
Security is a reasonable fear: Can a business rival log into the call or listen to the recording? Unfortunately, at Sabse Bolo if you give away the conference call code and PIN, anyone can log into the call.
The audio quality of the call service should be excellent. Otherwise, it can be quite frustrating to conduct the conference. As a best practice, any conference call service should offer an attendant in case you face a difficulty during the call. Finally, the call service should not drop a call.
Arun Katiyar is a content and communication consultant with a focus on technology companies. He is a published author with HarperCollins International and has extensive media experience spanning print, radio, Internet and mobiles.
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