Whuda thunk that technology startups would seek to make teleconferencing more fun? The new options for meeting people via phone are very cool indeed. Instead of the traditional phone number and PIN code, the new systems connect with the web, smart devices and your computer with just a click of a button rather than a series of pound signs and access codes.
One shiny new tool is Speek. Go to their app or the site, and you’re prompted to create a private URL for your teleconferences. Then send that link to your invitees, and they can connect through devices or computers. The system will even call out to participants at their desktops or dial a phone for them through a device.
On your Speek site, you can watch the interactions, mute and unmute callers and invite more attendees. You can also drop files into the web interface to share with others. Speek even offers to create a Dropbox folder for your account that will save the shared documents.
UberConference is similar to Speek with a limit of five participants, but you can earn spots for up to 17 by spreading the word. When people call in, they show up on your own UberConference web page, and from there you can share files, record the session, mute or unmute participants and more. When people speak, their icons (or pictures if they’ve hooked up their accounts) pop to the top of the screen.
If you pay for the UberConference pro version, the system will actually call participants for you at the appointed time. And iOS and Android apps let you take all the features on the go with you.
If you’re not ready for web-based audio conferencing, there’s always the reliable free conference call companies such as the appropriately named FreeConferenceCall.com. I’ve long relied on sites like FreeConferenceCall.com for a free phone number and PIN that I can share for teleconferences. Up to 96 attendees can join in by dialing a regular old U.S. phone number. The attendees incur regular charges for making a long-distance call, and no one has to pay any extra. Because so many people have flat-rate plans for calling or lots of minutes through their business accounts, there’s no need to feel guilty for not offering a toll-free number.