Sometimes we get a little wrapped up thinking that technology means social media, websites, tablet computers and mobile apps and nothing more. This is actually a trap that we all fall into and I am just as much to blame as anyone else.
Last week, I had a chat with Adrian Segar (to be aired on Meeting Pool later) and he reminded me that technology is not always the latest do-hicky that is coming through the twitterverse, across the internet, or through your feed. Sometimes, technology can be as simple as a pen and a 3×5 note-card.
Adrian has the keen awareness that the best technology for the job means the best tool for the job and sometimes you should not over engineer a problem just so you can build a better mousetrap.
But what if you can use technology to make something better. Such is communication. How we interact. Technology has done wonders for keeping us connected in many new ways. I was shocked (in a good way) when my seven year old wanted to FaceTime his little buddy but there is still a more simple way to connect groups. The conference call.
Technology has given us a way to teach this old dog new tricks. My son may be using my iPhone for 21st century conversation but most of us in the meetings industry are still using our phones for the dreaded 20th century conference call… and it has served us well and will long into the future.
Sometimes a Better Mousetrap
Conference calls are common place. Calls happen with our clients, our vendors, our hotel contacts, our airlines, and a whole host of people that it takes to pull of spectacular meetings and events. If you are really lucky, maybe you will even get all of them on the phone together, that is a joy I cannot express with words… but I digress.
We (the mice) have gotten smarter and we may actually want and need a better mousetrap. Did you know that there are tools beyond your old “phone bridge” or “FreeConferenceCall.com”? There tools out there can actually make conference calls a 21st century powerhouse helping us to get things done, kick ass, and take names.
For purposes of the article, I am only going to dive into the conference call tool that I use. The one that I rely on to make me a happier meeting type person.
I love UberConference. Try it and you will see why. UberConference is beautiful, it is simple, and it makes conference calls betterer. I am not kidding. Move to UberConference and you are not going back to the old way of doing business, ever. Add to the fact that the damn thing syncs with Evernote and it is the new party line for 2013. Now add the fact that and your participants do not need a pin to join the call, and it keeps getting more awesome. But I will stop with the love-in. We should probably dive in to the details because sometimes you have to sell something just to sell it and sometimes peoples need a little convincing before they move away from the old way of doing business.
Might as well start at the beginning.
Creating a conference is a snap and it is done online or through the app (oh, hell yeah, they have an app).
UberConference Full Features List:
Free Core Conference Calls and Features
The calls are free and you can use all of the core UberConference features for free.
Core services include
- You get an assigned number
- Includes an online visual conferencing interface
- Social contact integration included
- Call management including mute, earmuff (make it so someone can’t hear), group chat, and call recording.
Simple Conference Call Set up
This is one of the best parts. When you set up a conference call, ÜberConference can send participants invites or will even call them when the call begins (that is a paid feature). How cool is that.
All you need to do to get a call started or scheduled is log in and click on the “Create Conference” button. You choose whether it is starting now or in the future. My favorite feature is that it now adds it to my Google Calendar (or Outlook) and will even text me when it is time to start.
You then add the people you want to have in the call. You can add a persons email address or phone number. To make life simple, you can even import your contacts into ÜberConference. Once a contacts info is added, if they call from the phone you have for them, they will be placed directly into the call.
Now after you add some people, ÜberConference will send out the call information everyone (Pro people can have the system call participants).
Yes Veronica, there is the PIN backup in case someone has to join the call and is away from their phone.
Recording Conference Calls
- Yep. You can record the call. Creepy yes, useful sure.
Moving past “Who’s on the Call”
With the online visual dashboard, the call leader knows who is on the call which can save time when there are large groups that no longer have to announce themselves, which leads to everyone starting conversations that are totally unrelated to the call at hand. No, I do not care where you went on vacation.
Need to talk about that hotels proposal while the call is going on? No problem, drop the earmuffs on their line and they cannot hear you and your team talking about them, their hotel, and how much they want to gouge you.
Calls are now social
- Link your social media accounts to Uber and you can see other’s social media information. This is HANDY.
Recurring Group Scheduling
Have a standing Monday call with your event planning team? Simple. The pro version handles recurring calls and can even dial up the team every Monday at 9:00 am. It would be perfect if it brought me coffee too, but this will do for now.
Apps and Apps
I will admit that I have not used the Uber app for iPhone (they also have Android) but I do know that people love it. I just tend to schedule calls when I am in the office, when I can dial in from my desk or when I am on the road. If I am driving, I should not be looking at an app.
There is a group chat feature as well for people that feel the need to text other people that are on the call (I admit, I do this).
If you use the Chrome web browser, you can log into the conference call from the browser and skip the dial in.
I am the first to admit that I have used FreeConferenceCall.com. Nothing wrong with it for the most part except when you double book a call and someone else logs in because you have two calls at once. Now, you might be talking about world domination or robbing a casino and if you say too much, you may have to sic the Conference Call Ninjas on them for just bopping into the wrong place. You can skip all that drama with the private call feature. Only invited participants will be able to get in.
Know the Blabbermouth
When someone speaks, the dashboard tells you who it is.
Yeah, you get a rundown on the call. How long, who talked the most, etc.
Yep. While in the call, you can share Box.net files and EverNote notes as well… I will let them explain.
During conference calls, click the share button in the ÜberConference visual interface to navigate though and select the Box files and Evernote notes you’d like to share. When you share items during a call, we add a thumbnail of the document to the ÜberConference and all participants can access it by clicking on it. Each participant’s view is independent, so different people can view different files at the same time. So for example, one person can be checking the agenda or other call notes while another is going through a presentation with the group. The person that shared each item will also see additional controls to delete an item that might have been added by mistake and to refresh content that might have been edited and updated within Evernote or Box during the call. At the end of the call, links to the notes and files are included in the call summaries for easy reference, and access to those documents takes place on Evernote and Box.
Google Apps Integration
If your company uses Google Apps, you can fire up Uber right from Gmail and other Google services. Handy, sure, will you use it? Probably not but it really is freaking cool.
The pro account is only $10 a month so don’t get your panties all in a bunch. Seriously. You spend more per day at Starbucks than one month of UberConference so just order it already (but only if you need it). With the pro account you get things like free call recording, more participants, outbound calling, removal of branding, etc, etc, etc, so on and so forth.
Want to learn more? Just go try UberConference. They are a freemium product so just trying it out won’t cost you a dime.
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