Conferencing App Comparison: Which App Is Right for You?

Regardless of company size, industry or job function, PGi can help you improve collaboration and get better results through our award-winning conferencing solutions. Each of these different conferencing apps are appropriate for different use cases. Check out our overview to help you determine which of these apps would best fit your specific needs based on the features and benefits of each:

iMeet – All-in-One Conferencing Collaboration

iMeet® is a cloud-based service that is designed to provide high-quality web and personal video conferencing. iMeet is as simple as a phone call, but much more enriching, powerful and fun! iMeet combines screen sharing with crystal clear, multi-point video in a virtual meeting room that is perfect for achieving face-to face interaction, without the travel expense. Designed for clarity and instant access to anyone, it combines the best parts of web, video and audio conferencing with social networking.

Features:

  • Host or join a meeting with up to 125 participants
  • Personalized meeting URL makes it easy for guests to join your meeting
  • Easily connect to audio using your 3G/4G wireless network or Wi-Fi
  • Record your meeting
  • Run your presentation, or pass control to someone else, right from your mobile device
  • Cloud-based file storage
  • Share files and chat with others in the meeting
  • Allow guests to share their desktop screen
  • Automatically syncs contacts across all of your devices
  • Free for guests

GlobalMeet Mobile – Simply Better Web Conferencing

GlobalMeet is the fastest and easiest way to start or join a conference call on your mobile device. GlobalMeet for iPhone dials your conference call access numbers and passcodes for you automatically. GlobalMeet is an easy-to-use, state-of-the-art meeting solution that gives you a fast and easy way to start your audio conferences. No access numbers to remember or passcodes to dial. GlobalMeet automatically connects you to the meeting with one touch on your iPhone.  With GlobalMeet for iPhone, you can take command of every meeting, even when you’re on the go, with your favorite GlobalMeet features right at your fingertips.

Features:

  • Easily host or join a meeting
  • Invite guests via email or just dial your to your guests
  • See who’s talking with GlobalMeet Active Talker®
  • Lock, mute or record your call with a single click
  • Adjust participant volumes and mute noisy lines
  • Get one click access to participant profile and contact information
  • Upload and present files (iPad)
  • Schedule a meeting (iPad)
  • Global VoIP Softphone
  • Manage all audio and web conference settings
  • Launch an impromptu meeting

iMeet Agenday Smart Calendar – Mobile Conference Call and One-Touch Dialing Tool

The iMeet® Agenday mobile app is a calendaring and mobile business productivity application that allows you to improve connectivity for the on the go professional.  You can easily join web and audio meetings right from your calendar, with one-touch access. For a mobile workforce that utilizes Apple, Android or Amazon phones, iMeet Agenday brings business productivity to the calendar. With weather, driving conditions, LinkedIn and Facebook integration, your workforce will be better prepared for meetings. Using iMeet Agenday, you can quickly orchestrate meetings on-the-fly with the ‘Meet Now’ functionality.

Features:

  • Consolidated view of all your calendar activities: Outlook®, iCal®, Google Calendar™, Yahoo and more
  • Initiate ad hoc or scheduled team calls in one touch
  • Poll meeting participants for the time and date that fits everyone’s schedule
  • Send email and smart text message notifications in one touch
  • Get turn-by-turn driving directions
  • Update Salesforce.com while on the go
  • Social network integration
  • Customizable alerts
  • Group calling calls multiple participants simultaneously
  • Access your entire schedule via the full Agenday Apple Watch app

Whether you’re having a meeting with 10 people or 10,000 people, we can help your organization communicate and collaborate more effectively. Click here to see PGi’s full suite of conferencing and collaboration solutions.

When Should You Escalate Conference Calls to Online Meetings?

Despite all of the advances in online meetings, conference calls are still indispensable in business collaboration. Nothing beats the familiarity of a telephone, even if it is now mobile and smart, which makes conference calls still the fastest, most convenient and most accessible form of communication.

However, not every meeting is best suited for audio-only meetings. Sometimes, you need visuals to better communicate, engage and solve problems with the people on the other end.

All-in-one, “all-you-can-meet” conferencing solutions now let you choose the best way to communicate for each unique meeting, and they offer a unified communications and collaboration experience so you can effortlessly glide from one virtual meeting type to another.

So when should you escalate conference calls to online meetings? Here are some examples:

  • When you need to share content immediately and securely, escalate to online meetings. Online meetings include web conferencing features like cloud-based file storage and screen sharing so you can instantly share the agenda you forgot in the invite or collaborate on a document in real time. And, because everything is encrypted and available only to attendees, it beats sharing files on emails that can easily be forwarded or accessed by unintended third parties.
  • When you need to communicate a complex idea, use visuals. Our understanding of some concepts is limited by language alone. The richness of streaming videos, presentation slides and screen sharing better breaks down hard-to-explain ideas, and the non-verbal communication that accompanies being on webcams assures nothing is lost in translation.
  • When you need to address a sensitive matter or resolve a conflict, turn on your webcam. You cannot communicate empathy, sympathy, concern or sadness on audio only, and you won’t be able to discern the depth of emotions of the other party. It’s easy to reduce the person on the other end to a stance or position when all you see is a name, but when you can hear and see the other person, you’re better able to develop empathy on both ends and resolve sticky situations.

If you’re using an all-in-one collaboration solution like iMeet® or GlobalMeet®, you have the option to easily escalate from a conference call to a video conference. Simply click the camera icon to turn on your webcam or remain on audio only using the static user image cubes as visuals for who’s talking. And you’ll never have to take roll call again.

Learn More

Featured Image Source: Pexels

Can VoIP Save Your Business Money?

Looking for new ways to save your business money, enhance communication and collaboration and support your distributed workforce? Give your collaborators more ways to connect with Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP).

VoIP Eliminates Costly Phone Lines
Softphones and audio conferencing applications that facilitate VoIP are now so common and familiar at work that businesses can completely eliminate the costs of maintaining traditional phone lines. All-in-one audio, video and web conferencing is now so seamless and user-friendly that workers can not only connect to meetings but also one-on-one calls just as fast as they can dial a phone.

Because voice information is transmitted through the Internet, the costs of making calls via VoIP are rolled into your regular Internet bill, and, SaaS-based conferencing solutions replace unpredictable spikes in minutes with steady, monthly rates. If you rely on VoIP as a complete alternative to desk phones, you don’t even need to invest in phone hardware or additional IT resources to maintain your audio conferencing solution.

For some businesses, desk phones could very well be a thing of the past. Softphones and mobile apps are increasingly important to the mobile workforce, as 79 percent now telework, and 74 percent of remote workers use these tools over traditional phones on a daily basis, according to VoIP comparison research firm Software Advice. Besides better mobility, VoIP audio conferencing also supports the unified communications and collaboration experience increasingly demanded by users.

VoIP Saves Money on International Calls
On the other hand, traditional phone lines still offer audio quality and reliability that VoIP can’t, yet, but even as a supplement to desk phones and mobile devices, VoIP audio options will save your business money. If your business collaborates with freelancers, telecommuters, global branches or clients around the world, VoIP saves you the costs of making unlimited international phone calls. Likewise, when you, your mobile workers or your sales team are on the go, VoIP acts as your professional, cost-effective, mobile desk phone.

To get the best of both worlds, make sure your all-in-one conferencing solution offers both VoIP and traditional phone lines as options to connect. By providing workers with a global, hybrid, IP audio network, you let employees, customers and external collaborators choose the most convenient way to collaborate for them.

Learn more about VoIP and the importance of hybrid audio.

Audio Conferencing Integration Case Study: Northwestern University

To facilitate their rapidly evolving online learning programs, Northwestern University uses a combination of independent learning and interactive audio and web conferencing sessions, which help them reach more potential students, increase engagement, improve student experiences and maintain high retention and graduation rates.

However, students and faculty commonly experienced dropped connections on the VoIP-only web conferencing solution. Losing class time, momentum and opportunities to connect, NU needed an integrated audio solution to support synchronous online learning, better manage disruptions and guarantee seamless sessions.

Using PGi hybrid audio conferencing integration, NU enriched online student experiences, realized more value from their existing investments, increased the versatility of their technology for wider use cases and accelerated pilot online learning programs with better adoption, according to Instructional Technologist Alyssa Dyar.

“The PGi integrated audio solution is pretty flawless. Students just type in their phone number, it pops up and there’s not a lot for them to do. If someone can’t get the code right, dialing out is really quick.”

How to Host a Conference Call

Though fast and simple, conference calls can be messy and confusing without the right guidelines and preparations.

Missing visual cues, you don’t know who’s speaking, when it’s your turn, what someone really meant and what page of a document everyone else is on. These are common conferencing calling traps that, when left unchecked, can collapse the productivity of your entire call just like a gaping sinkhole.

Control the chaos and avoid these mishaps by getting a little more organized. Use the following tips to experience better conference calling and collaboration.

10 Steps to Organize a Conference Call:

  1. Set a clear meeting agenda. Organize meeting objectives in an outline for a clear path to follow. This way, you’ll be able to get your audience back on track and remind yourself when you’re chasing too many tangents.
  2. Find the best time to meet. Conference calling that’s too early or too late winds up with late arrivals or participants hanging up early, as well as callers that are too distracted or too tired to participate. To make it easy (especially if you’re dealing with multiple time zones) send a free/busy poll to everyone at once with options for them to select.
  3. Send a calendar invite. Creating calendar invites is easy, but consider adding these extras for a more productive meeting. First, include the agenda and let your attendees know how they should prepare. Should they brainstorm ahead of time, come with questions or read over other attachments beforehand? Also, make it easier for mobile callers by including links to apps with one-click access. Don’t forget to set a reminder notification at least 15 minutes before the meeting.
  4. Find the mute button. If you’re new to playing host, practice with the technology. Find all the buttons on your visual conference calling controls, as well as your speaker phone, like how to mute a single line or all callers at once.
  5. Join early. Dial in at least five minutes before the start time to welcome participants and ensure they have everything they need to participate.
  6. Kick off with ground rules. To minimize disruptions, set quick guidelines. For instance, let callers know that putting the call on hold initiates hold music, that they need to state their name before speaking if it’s a large call or new group and to mute themselves at all times unless they’re speaking. In fact, include this conference call flowchart in your invite so they get the picture.
  7. Ask questions. This is a surefire way to get engagement and to make sure participants understand the conversation. Using your visual display of who’s on the call, direct your questions to someone new each time so everyone pays attention instead of multitasks.
  8. Jot down ideas, questions and feedback. Many conference calling solutions provide a recording and meeting summary afterwards, but if you want to be an active listener and better host, take notes during the meeting, too.
  9. Wrap up with action items. Outline any next steps your participants need to take so everyone leaves with a clear understanding of their responsibilities. In addition, use wrap-up time to review what was and was not accomplished and to ask callers what they think could be improved on the next call.
  10. Follow up with an email. Recap your meeting, next steps, assigned roles and deadlines in an email so everyone has a clear, written summary to cement what they learned and what’s next.

What else can you control for better conferencing calling? Your technology. Request a demo today of GlobalMeet® Audio to find out why PGi is one of the most trusted audio conferencing providers!

How to Build Stronger Relationships with Audio Conferencing

Beyond products and revenue, business will always be about people—without customers and fans or employees and partners, a company is nothing but a name and a logo. Whether you’re wooing new customers or improving teamwork, building relationships can be the difference between the success and failure of both your job and your company’s brand at large.

Relationship building no longer happens just face to face. It occurs over emails, tweets, webinars, instant messaging and other virtual forums that make it quick and convenient to do at a distance.

While these tools all have a place in connecting with the people powering your business, nothing beats the speed and human touch of a good, old-fashioned phone call. Don’t overlook audio conferencing as a tool to build stronger relationships.

Why You Still Need to Pick Up the Phone

Audio conferencing will improve your business relationships and ensure that they are long lasting ones.

  • Phone calls are quick. Every salesperson knows that the faster you respond to a lead, the better your chances are of turning them into a customer. That’s because prompt communication demonstrates your genuine interest in helping someone, and unlike email and social media, you don’t have to wait for the person on the other end to find your response when you call. So if you want to make someone feel like you really care, try audio conferencing instead of sending an email or waiting to find a time to meet.
  • Conference calls are convenient. Not everyone is always in a setting to turn on their webcam for an online meeting, but people are more likely to answer a phone call, no matter where they are. And even when someone joins an online meeting on the go, most people prefer a more reliable, higher quality audio connection over VoIP.
  • Audio conferencing is more personal. If you want to get to know your teammate or a sales prospect, it sounds much more authentic to go off your talking points when you’re on the phone rather than email. Getting to know someone on a more personal level and hearing each other’s voice helps you develop trust and rapport. Plus, everyone has different communication preferences and learning styles. For instance, some prospects may prefer talking with sales primarily over emails, but many people still prefer the personal, instant, human interaction of phone calls.
  • Conference calls offer richer feedback. Building relationships requires you to not only reach out often but also to listen and learn about the other person, and conference calls help you do that better than text-based tools. Knowing how someone says something, not just what they say, tells more about what they’re thinking and feeling. Hearing pauses, sarcasm, laughter or a grave tone reveals hesitancy, anger, joy or concern, and you wouldn’t be able to pick up those insights just by reading a response. As a plus, audio conferencing captures all of that deeper data in a recording so you can go back and further analyze and archive your conversation, too.
  • Calling gets you in the door. How many times have you ignored an email? While most people are bombarded with emails, updates and messages, phone calls and voice mails don’t typically arrive by the hundreds every day. People will be much more likely to engage with you and remember you if you call.

If you want to accelerate relationship building and improve the quality of your relationships with customers, teammates, vendors or partners, audio conferencing should be part of your communication strategy.

Even if you’ve moved on from in-person meetings to video conferencing, having an all-in-one conferencing solution that includes crystal clear audio will ensure you stay in touch even when you don’t have the time for a formal online meeting or aren’t in the place to turn on video.

Learn more about the benefits of audio conferencing and all-in-one collaboration solutions for sales professionals and marketing teams today.

Featured Image Source: Unsplash

How & Why You Should Record Conference Calls

The evolution of the conference call has made it easier than ever for businesses to meet with employees and prospects locally and globally. Whether through just audio or with integrated video, web and screen sharing, conference calling features allow for more engagement with meeting participants, no matter the location. But what if you or another attendee can’t make the meeting?

That’s where the record button comes in. Similar to the DVR you use to record the shows you don’t want to miss, the record feature on web conferencing solutions, like PGi’s iMeet®, records your conference calls. This feature isn’t just for those missing out on a meeting. Check out how different aspects of the business can benefit from hitting record when conference calling:

Sales:
The days of the door-to-door salesmen are long gone, but that doesn’t mean that your sales reps can’t replicate that age-old tactic. In order to reach prospects, and save money on travel, sales teams can use the record feature by creating a video message for prospects.

Instead of having to deal with the hassle of aligning schedules with a prospect for a conference call, sales reps can simulate a meeting by using the record feature. Reps can use audio, video and share their screen to issue an impressive digital sales pitch.

After recording their pitch, the sales rep would simply send the prospect a link to the video. From here, the prospect can access the entire recording and contact the sales rep with any additional questions.

HR:
Imagine there is a candidate that you’d love to interview, but they’re hundreds of miles away. Do you fork over the expense of a flight and accommodations? Now, HR teams can utilize web conferencing tools, like iMeet, to meet with potential candidates.

Rather than dealing with scheduling conflicts with interviewers and risking the expense of a travel to meet with a candidate that could end up not being the best fit, HR teams can use the record feature when conference calling to make sure everyone can meet the candidate.

And if someone isn’t available for the interview? Simply send them a recording of the audio and video interview so they can get a feel of the candidate without having to try to reschedule.

Marketing: 
Have a new product you’d like to show off to investors or industry analysts? Using the same tactic mentioned above for sales departments, marketing teams can showcase their new products through audio, video and screen sharing recordings. Record the “conference call” and simply send the link to anyone who needs to know about your new product.

Corporate Communications:
If you’re working on internal communications within a company, using the record feature can help you get information to your business quickly and effectively. This works especially well if you have a hard-to-pin-down executive who would like to get out a message to his or her employees. Have the executive deliver a presentation and record it, then send the recording to you to disseminate to the company.

This feature also works well if you’re hosting a virtual town hall. If your company is full of remote workers that may not be able to meet in-person for a quarterly town hall, use the record feature when conference calling to ensure everyone stays in the loop with important business updates.

Regardless of your goal, utilizing the record feature on a conference call can make sure you get any necessary information to the right people. If you’re ready to see how the record feature can help your business save time and money, try PGi’s iMeet, free for 30 days.

What Is VoIP Call?

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is the technology that allows you to make calls directly through your Internet connection for fast, mobile and affordable web and audio conferencing.

Traditionally, when you make calls by dialing on a telephone or cell phone, you connect via PSTN (public switched telephone network). Alternatively, VoIP converts your voice information to a digital form that is transportable through the Internet, bypassing the additional costs of connecting via telephone.

You’ll often hear the term “softphone” used in relation to VoIP, but the two are not quite interchangeable. Unlike VoIP (the means that you connect), a softphone is the software (or the medium) that facilitates VoIP calls with an interface and features that behave much like a typical telephone.

What Is VoIP

VoIP Puts the Hybrid in Audio Conferencing
The integration of VoIP is exactly what makes PGi’s audio conferencing a hybrid solution. From one, easy-to-use interface, you choose how you want to connect (VoIP or PSTN) for the utmost convenience from your desktop, laptop, tablet or mobile device.

And that same industry-leading, hybrid audio network is integrated across PGi’s portfolio of collaboration solutions for a simplified, seamless experience. That means whether you’re hosting an online meeting or connecting to a conference call, you’ll have an integrated VoIP softphone option available for more flexibility.

While VoIP is an excellent option to have for cost and convenience, on the other hand, VoIP-only collaboration solutions also benefit greatly from hybrid audio enhancements. No matter how you’re connecting, with a web conferencing solution or unified communication (US) suite, you’ll encounter the same limitations to meeting when you’re missing either PSTN or VoIP access options.

Because organizations increasingly need to connect outside of the company, and because users are increasingly mobile, hybrid audio integrations are popular add-ons to VoIP-powered collaboration solutions.

Learn More
Want to keep learning about VoIP and its impact on your audio conferencing? Click on these links for more resources:

  • More callers are connecting to conference calls from mobile devices than ever, from all over the world, and VoIP technology makes it easier and more cost-effective to connect around the globe. Read more about why VoIP matters in How to Improve Conference Calls with New VoIP and Mobile Technology.
  • When it comes to VoIP audio bridges, PGi wrote all of the software. Learn why off-the-shelf bridge software can’t deliver the same redundancy as PGi’s server-based VoIP bridges in The Strength of PGi’s Audio Conferencing Backbone.
  • The ability to join a conference call via VoIP is useful for sure, but what if you could seamless switch from VoIP to PSTN during a meeting? Read about the invisible innovations in audio conferencing that you don’t think about and what’s in store for the future in Is the Conference Call Still Relevant in 2015?

Featured Image Source: freeimages.com

3 Things to Look for in a Conference Call Solution

Yesterday’s conference call essentials were features like recording, reporting and toll free access numbers, but as the conference call becomes ubiquitous, users want more from their audio solutions.

So what should you shop for now to stay ahead of the curve? Here are three things to look for in a conference call solution:

  1. Hybrid audio. Some providers only offer traditional phone line connectivity, which means you cannot dial in from your desktop. A hybrid audio network also lets you seamlessly join conference calls by VoIP, which is not only more convenient for many users but also more cost-effective for international dialers. Some providers may accommodate VoIP with third-party integrations, but this can increase your costs and complicate billing.
  2. Full integrations. Web and video integrations are quickly becoming must have features for conference calls, but not all providers keep your full-featured audio controls intact with integrations. You may lose some conference feature choices, compromising your consistent user experience.
  3. Meeting management. Conference calls are now so pervasive in the workplace, many users no longer want a solution that just helps them host meetings – they want a solution that helps them manage more productive meetings. So here’s what you need: a solution with a web interface, calendar integration and mobile applications. Intuitive desktop and mobile visual controls make it easier to control the conversation, while calendar integration makes it easier to schedule and track meetings. One-click joining and visibility on who’s speaking means you can start on time, end on time and stay on track.

Aside from these modern audio essentials, your buying decision should depend on your unique needs.

Of course, ease of use and mobility should always be on your high-level considerations, and don’t just focus on the solution – evaluate the audio provider, as well. You’ll also have to choose between on-premise or SaaS solutions, whether you’ll need operator assistance and how much flexibility you need when it comes to pricing.

To make more informed decisions when it comes to the tough choices, search and subscribe to PGi’s Collaboratory now. You’ll find the latest insights on how to buy and make the most out of conference calls so you can skip ahead and focus on what matters most – collaboration.

How to Keep Your Audience’s Attention During a Conference Call

Audio conferencing is a powerful business collaboration tool and remains one of the simplest ways to get a group together to discuss new ideas, report on progress or share a status update.

However, conference calls represent a unique challenge for meeting hosts: how do you keep an audience engaged with only your voice? Here are a few tips to keep your conferencing guests attentive:

Introduce Everyone
At the beginning of any conference call involving new voices, take a moment to give everyone an opportunity to introduce themselves. By attaching names and titles to voices, your guests will be more apt to listen to what insights and suggestions each individual can bring to the table, as opposed to tuning-out a disembodied, unidentified speaker.

Tip: Choosing audio conferencing software with a visual component – a desktop or mobile app – will make it easier to identify everyone on the call and know who is speaking when.

Ask Questions
One of the best ways to keep any meeting audience engaged, whether in-person, on video or on a conference call, is by regularly asking questions.

This is especially useful in certain meeting types such as product updates or trainings. Asking your guests if they’ve understood the presentation, have any additional questions of their own or something as simple as whether they can hear you clearly is a quick way to ensure that your message is being heard loud and clear.

Keep Things Moving
Make a point to set an agenda before your conference call and do your best to adhere to it. Meandering conversations and lengthy tangents will quickly bore your attendees and encourage multitasking or inattention.

By maintaining your agenda and shifting topics regularly, your guests will stay more engaged.

Take Breaks
For longer conference calls, the audio-only experience encourages multitasking and zoning out. Since participants are not on video, it’s much easier to take advantage of the relative anonymity and let yourself get distracted.

Empower your attendees to stay on task by regularly taking breaks during longer conference calls. The mental and physical refresher prevents meeting burn-out and is beneficial to all parties, including you as the host!

 

Weighing the Pros and Cons of Conference Calls

Conference calls are an important collaboration tool for businesses today, bringing together both internal and external stakeholders for large-scale scheduled meetings or for quick, ad hoc conversations to brainstorm new ideas or hash out an existing problem.

However, different teams and even different individuals within your teams have unique ways that they prefer to work with others; their “collaboration style,” if you will. When evaluating a collaboration solution for your company, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of particular methods in order to ensure you’re offering the right tools to the right people.

Let’s take a look at some common pros and cons of conference calls:

Pros of Conference Calls

Simplicity: In terms of ease of use, one of the primary benefits of conference calling is that it leverages technology that everyone already has and is familiar with: the phone. While other online collaboration tools such as virtual meeting software have developed intuitive interfaces and access methods, it’s still an additional layer of technology that can be confusing or fail. Joining a conference call is as simple as entering a phone number, or even having the conference dial out to a phone of your choice.

Mobility: Conference calls are inherently mobile because anyone can join from their smartphone, either through a dedicated mobile app or by simply dialing the conference line directly. While the majority of collaboration solutions now feature a mobile component, audio conferencing is perfectly designed for mobile meeters and on-the-go workers.

Calendar Integrations: Scheduling conference calls is relatively painless thanks to integration with systems like Microsoft Outlook, allowing for quick invite creation with all of the relevant dial-in numbers and passcodes. You can even utilize a smart calendar app which will scrub your calendar for this information and automatically connect you to an audio conference with a single click.

Cons of Conference Calls

Missed Messages: While the number can vary, it’s been said that up to 93% of communication is non-verbal: body language, eye and head movement, etc. Without the added visual component of web or video conferencing, you’re potentially missing out on vital non-verbal cues that can tell you what a customer or prospect is really thinking.

Caller Confusion: Without a visual component, it can often be confusing in an audio conference to identify who is on the call and who is speaking when. This also leads to a lot of “stepping on toes” as different callers end up talking over one another.

Lack of content sharing: While you can always email a document around before a conference call and talk through it, it lacks the intuitiveness of screensharing a document in a web conference. With screenshare, you always know everyone is on the same page.

The Verdict

It’s likely that neither the pros nor the cons of conference calls are enough to make or break them as a business collaboration tool for your organization. Rather, it’s important to be mindful of the benefits and limitations of any collaboration method you employ so that you can utilize the right solution for the right team, meeting or situation.

 

How Do I Use Conferencing Apps for Better Meetings?

Need to meet, but not everyone’s at their desks? Then try using conferencing apps for better meetings.

Apps help you quickly connect from your desktop and applications like Outlook and Lync, as well as mobile devices increasingly making up the new, virtual workplace. No matter how you connect, they offer the same full-featured experience so you can take meetings on the go.

Boost Productivity for Better Meetings

Conferencing apps help you boost productivity and alleviate some of your biggest frustrations with meetings, like:

  • Late starts: Here’s how a mobile app helps get everyone to a meeting on time: by making joining even easier and by providing meeting notifications. Whether it’s a desktop or mobile device app, attendees bypass passcodes and connect automatically. Plus, apps organize every meeting on workers agendas and remind them when a meeting’s about to start.
  • Missing attendees: Increase attendance by letting workers join meetings from anywhere via mobile apps. When your employees are still on the road or working from home, they’ll still be able to meet face-to-face with the simplicity of an app.
  • Rescheduling: You don’t have to cancel meetings when you’re away from your workspace even if you’re hosting them. A conferencing app gives even the host the ability to create and control meetings on the fly from any device. In fact, one PGi client, Mercedes-Benz USA, said a colleague gave a presentation from a rest stop while traveling using the mobile features of GlobalMeet Audio®.
  • Information gaps: Ever had important information on the tip of your tongue? Make it easier to recall details during meetings. After you upload files to your online meeting room, you can access that information directly through the app. Plus, all of your contacts and calendars are auto-synced across devices.

Connect Your Mobile Workforce

Powering the mobile workforce is a huge benefit of conferencing apps, and although for many they may still be a “nice to have” feature, workers will probably access most of their meetings via apps in the future of work.

The ability to schedule, share, organize and join meetings with one touch across tablets, smart phones and even wearables will be essential to the growing telecommuting workforce and global enterprises.

Even the in-office worker will increasingly rely on mobile apps to meet as more employees choose, bring and use their own devices at work. Roughly 40 percent of U.S. employees of large enterprises already use personally owned devices for work, according to Gartner.

Download Free Conferencing Apps

Ready to go mobile with your meetings? Get your free conferencing apps from PGi:

How to Choose an Enterprise Audio Conferencing Solution

For large enterprises, audio conferencing is an essential tool for driving collaboration, productivity and business results. While many enterprises may have the resources to try and tackle their collaboration solution on their own, increasingly, multi-national corporations are recognizing that they don’t possess the necessary skillsets. And furthermore, they can burn considerable resources trying to create something that already exists in the marketplace.

However, with so many employees relying on your conferencing solution, how do you properly evaluate an enterprise audio conferencing solution and provider to ensure reliability, consistency, security and ease-of-use?

Like any enterprise software purchase, there are several key areas to consider when purchasing audio conferencing to ensure it meets your organization’s needs, scale and reach.

Provider’s History, Reputation and Customer Base
While collaboration start-ups can grab headlines and VC funding, few companies in the world are equipped to support the collaboration needs of the largest global corporations. One of the first areas to evaluate when comparing providers is how many other large companies they’ve successfully supported, how successful they’ve been in doing so and their level of experience in the marketplace. Case studies, customer testimonials, reference customers and more are all invaluable assets throughout the conferencing buying cycle.

Conferencing by the Numbers
When supporting thousands of employees, numbers become very important to your conferencing solution, both in terms of simultaneous users and simultaneous meetings on your provider’s network. Carefully evaluate the meeting capacities that are available in the conferencing solutions you evaluate to ensure that they meet your needs, from the smallest ad hoc conference calls to large, company-wide events.

In addition, once the decision is made to deploy a solution to your extensive user base, training programs and resources become paramount to driving usage and adoption to maximize ROI.

Security and Resiliency
Enterprises frequently exchange highly sensitive information and trade secrets during their conference calls, making their meetings some of the most important on the globe. Enterprise-grade security and encryption and centralized IT administration allow your organization to easily establish user permissions at either the individual or departmental level, ensure that and protect valuable company data. And built-in network resiliency and failover helps ensure that your service will always be available for your critical meetings.

Support Structure
Regardless of the strength of a provider’s network infrastructure and resiliency, it’s inevitable that your associates will encounter problems that require customer support. For enterprises, it’s vital to provide access to multiple support avenues, including in-meeting support, live chat, phone support and customer communities in order to meet the diverse needs of such a large employee base.

Furthermore, the reach of multi-national corporations makes global support – in terms of network infrastructure, access points, dial-in numbers and local-language support options – a must-have component of any collaboration solution.

 

Free vs. Paid: Choosing a Conference Call Solution

When evaluating a new conference call solution, one of the most common questions is this: why should I pay for conference calls when there are free solutions available?

Free conference calls may seem like an attractive option, however it’s important to understand the sacrifices you’re potentially making by choosing a free provider. You may ultimately end up hindering your organization’s ability to effectively communicate and collaborate in the interest of saving on cost.

Here are some reasons why you should choose a paid conference call solution over a free one:

1) Choose a paid conference call solution if quality and reliability are important to you and your business.

If you only conduct the occasional audio conference, you may not be worried about scratchy quality and dropped calls. However, if conference calls are a core component of your organization’s communication and collaboration, you need a consistent, high-quality audio experience backed by enterprise-grade network infrastructure that only a paid audio conferencing service can provide.

The spoken word is the foundation of collaboration, and without a consistent audio experience, you simply can’t have effective meetings.

2) Choose a paid conference call solution if you’re a global organization or conduct business internationally.

One of the primary benefits of a collaboration solution like audio conferencing is it lets any business, regardless of size, expand to a global footprint. Unfortunately, free conference call services may not have the global reach, network infrastructure or support capabilities to ensure seamless audio conferencing for your globally dispersed business or your international clients.

However, paid audio conference providers have the resources and infrastructure to support bridges and audio nodes in multiple countries, can provide local dial-in numbers and can offer in-language and in-region support options.

3) Choose a paid conference call solution if you want access to support and service guarantees.

With a free solution, you’re generally left to your own devices should there be service interruptions or technical difficulties. And with no contract or Service Level Agreement (SLA), the provider is under no obligation to ensure that your conference calls work when you need them to.

On the other hand, paid conference call providers offer 24/7 in-meeting, email and live chat support in addition to other support avenues like phone, email and online customer communities.

4) Choose a paid conference call solution if you want full-featured control over your audio meetings.

Free conference call providers often offer minimal additional features, or place mission-critical collaboration features behind an optional paywall or subscription. You may be able to communicate, but any robust scheduling or meeting management features won’t be available.

Paid conference call solutions like GlobalMeet Audio provide a wealth of features, including Microsoft Outlook integration and scheduling, mobile applications, visual meeting controls on your desktop, laptop or mobile device, subconferencing support and more.

While it may be tempting to leverage a free conference call solution for your business, the additional features, network capabilities and support that come with an audio conferencing purchase more than justify the expense.

 

How to Choose an Audio Conferencing Solution

With the incredible pace of innovation in communications technologies—including face-to-face video, instant messaging, mobile applications and more—it can be easy to forget that audio conferencing is the cornerstone of collaboration. Without consistent, high-quality audio tailored to your organization’s unique needs, collaboration simply isn’t possible.

It’s easy to put your audio solution on the backburner in light of the complexity of your other communications software, or to simply continue a long-standing audio purchase. However, audio conferencing has grown increasingly more complex (albeit not as visibly as other technologies), and there are several key things to consider when choosing a solution:

1) How easy is it to use?

You may think that dialing a phone number and entering a passcode is fairly simple already, but audio conferencing solutions have evolved to make meeting entry even easier. Modern tools can auto-connect users via VoIP or dial-out as soon as you’ve joined the conference via desktop or mobile application. It may seem like a small time saver, but multiplied across all of your meetings throughout your organization, those few minutes saved add up to significant cost and time.

In addition, these desktop and mobile applications also provide visibility and feature access that is normally lacking from conference calls, such as a list of participants, indicators of who is speaking and access to volume, muting and subconferencing controls. While these features are normally accessible through a list of “*” commands (and still are, should you have them memorized), having them visible on your computer screen or mobile device creates a more intuitive, efficient conferencing experience.

2) Is it mobile?

While conference calls are mobile by default (since you can always dial-in from your smartphone), mobile conferencing applications offer unique features that have become practically essential in today’s BYOD-driven workplace. These apps offer simple connections and a visible read-out of participants and who is speaking when, in addition to the aforementioned easy access to common features like volume, muting and sub-conferencing or breakout sessions.

In addition, your provider’s invitations should be straight-forward and mobile-optimized, allowing for one-touch dial in and passcode entry.

3) Does it support multiple connection methods simultaneously?

As endpoints, codecs, audio bridges and other technologies that make audio conferencing possible have evolved, the underlying infrastructure of your conference call has also grown increasingly complex. Hybrid audio support, which allows for seamless mixing of VoIP and PSTN within the same conference call, is essential to facilitating freedom and choice for your employees as well as any third-party participants. Without hybrid support, you may overly complicate your audio conferences by forcing a particular connection method.

4) Does it integrate with your existing tools, or offer support for web and video integrations?

Finally, an audio conferencing solution you consider for your organization has to offer seamless integration paths for your existing communications deployments, including unified communications tools such as Microsoft® Lync®.

Or, if you’re also considering web or video conferencing, the purchasing conversation may change to a web solution that includes audio conferencing integration, giving your employees the freedom and flexibility to meet how they want, with no additional costs offer traditional pay-per-minute audio models.

Interested in learning more about purchasing an audio conferencing solution for your organization? Contact a PGi expert today.

How to Conduct Better Conference Calls

Conference calls are notoriously awkward, full of goofs and potentially unproductive, but they’re also a vital component of company communication both internally and externally. When everyone can’t be in the same room, you need a tool to bring them together for discussions and collaboration.

However, attendees on your conference calls aren’t paying attention, and they may even be focusing their attention on other work. Hiding behind the facelessness of audio conferencing, attendees can multitask or mentally check out without ever being seen—missing out on the important message you’re delivering and not offering new ideas to the conversation.

So how do you conduct better conference calls? Here are three ways you can do less and get more out of your calls:

1. Meet less frequently. Our work culture often confuses time and meetings with productivity. Holding lots of conference calls is an easy way to “show your work” as proof of progress and time well spent. However, conference calls that are too frequent are one of the key causes of your attention deficit. Instead, save meetings for when you have completely new, urgent information to share or when you need participation and feedback from others. Save the recaps, alignment and previews for emails.

2. Meet with less people. Only the key players involved in your project or message should be invited to your conference calls. Anyone that’s only loosely affiliated will zone out and feel that their time is wasted, so just include them on your meeting recap emails. Additionally, this will help those actively participating feel more comfortable asking questions and chasing new ideas without worrying about taking up too much time.

3. Limit meetings to less topics. Conference calls are already full of lost and confused attendees between messy dialogues, unclear agendas and repetitive questions (and add to that the nuances of joining and staying connected for mobile callers). Don’t add to the confusion with too many topics of discussion. And if you can say it in less words, do it. Put your stats and facts on paper or slideshows, send them prior to the meeting and resist the urge to read through them word for word.

Sometimes it’s not you, though. Sometimes it’s your technology that holds you back from productive calls.

If your current solution’s missing an easy-to-use visual interface and crystal-clear audio quality, then contact PGi now to try GlobalMeet Audio® conferencing.

Image Source: Gratisography.

Best Practices for Mobile Conference Calls

With a touch of a screen or a few pushes on a keypad, workers can now join their colleagues in meetings from anywhere and any device, saving time and helping bring collaboration into the era of telework and flex work. However, mobile conference calls don’t come without their own unique frustrations.

No matter the device, a conference call should be treated just like any in-person meeting, but attendees often use mobile conference calls to multitask even more than those at a desk or PC. Beyond email and online shopping, mobile users are also driving, ordering lunch and waiting on flights.

The probability of dropped calls, noise and distractions increases when you’re dealing with road warriors, business travelers and other mobile users on the move. Plus, navigating a mobile device makes joining a meeting even more difficult, between switching applications and minding your surroundings.

Despite all of these challenges, more users choose mobile conference calls every year instead of using a landline, and meeting hosts need to prepare for the amplified risks of mobile conference calls.

Your cutting-edge, mobile conference call doesn’t have to turn into a frustrating, antiquated experience for attendees. A set of best practices for mobile conference calls will save the day and help mold your BYOD-happy company into an effective mobile workforce.

Sharpen your hosting skills for mobile conference calls:

-Make it easy to join. Dial-in numbers and passcodes already pain users on a laptop or PC, but think about how much harder it is to find this information on a smartphone. To simplify the process, mobile dialers need a pop-up notification by calendar invite. For global workers, offer international toll-free access so it’s easier to join without long-distance charges.

-Make it easy to rejoin. Attendees on the move have a higher probability of disconnecting and won’t want to rejoin your meeting by entering another maze of access information. Consider an audio conferencing app or smart calendar app that can provide users with contacts and easier meeting access. Instead of navigating between emails and memorizing call numbers, an app can provide one-touch joining.

-Make it easy to hear. Encourage mobile users to go hands-free with a headset for conference calls. Not only does this improve sound quality but also makes it safer for those on the move. Also, unless your mobile guests are on Wi-Fi, discourage soft phones, which can have less reliable service and quality in weak coverage areas.

-Make it easy to digest. Distractions plague mobile conference calls, and the absence of visuals can create difficulty for listeners following the conversation. Mobile attendees need to be able to cut through the clutter and digest your information, so limit your meeting to one main objective, shorten everything, emphasize key takeaways and review action steps.

-Make it easy to engage. Many mobile users will be on the go, so you’re more likely to lose engagement. Here, an email or app where you can share an agenda beforehand will help you stay on schedule so you don’t lose them (or put them to sleep).

-Make it easy to succeed. To improve mobile collaboration, create and share best practices and mobile etiquette with your team. You can integrate these guidelines with your company’s BYOD policy, send a brief reminder before meetings or host an employee webinar on mobile conference call best practices.

To execute these best practices, shop for audio conferencing solutions that offer multiple access points, a visual interface, easy dialing out for the host and simple entry for participants. With BYOD on the rise, such capabilities will practically be required.

GlobalMeet® Audio offers the industry’s best mobile apps on the App Store on iTunes, Google Play and BlackBerry World. Users will find GlobalMeet Audio’s smart features right from their mobile device, including roll call, sub-conferencing breakout sessions, recording, mute and volume control and the active talker feature.

Learn why modern audio conferencing complexity, including increased mobile conference calls, requires evolved solutions to have successful meetings. Download our white paper on The Evolution of Audio Conferencing today.

The Disadvantages of Poor Audio Conferencing Software

The conference call is the champion for dispersed offices and the vanquisher of money-sucking business travel. With all its power comes great responsibility on the part of users, and when audio conferencing goes bad, what should be easy turns into a major pain for businesses.

-So, how’s the family? It’s not often that conference calls start on time. A lengthy login process that makes it difficult to join a conference call means it’s almost inevitable that people will “ding” in right after you start, but hey, at least you gain extra time for awkward small talk with the early birds before the meeting.

-Can you hear me now? Audio quality is essential to the success of a conference call, and because this type of meeting depends on it, any disruptions, lost connections or choppy quality put a halt to the entire meeting. Plus, today’s conference call is a mix of smartphones, Wi-Fi users, VoIP lines and more, creating complexity and adding another layer of risk.

-Who’s speaking? The absence of visuals creates a host of dilemmas and mishaps, most noticeably an awkward meeting. Attendees often face confusion about who’s talking, when to pause and even where a question is directed without visual cues for speakers.

-Is anyone listening? Conference calls make it easier for attendees to hide in the background and multi-task, as opposed to video, and they often lack avenues to engage with participants via chat or file sharing. Constant interruptions may mean participants are missing information, and a meeting without an interesting visual presentation may be more difficult to comprehend, as well as harder to hold attention and help guide the agenda.

-Any ideas? To avoid chaos and confusion, conference calls often require a clear agenda, ground rules on asking questions and other limitations to stay on track. Without any flexibility in a meeting, the host and guests can’t easily switch gears and follow new ideas, which may make brainstorming difficult. Without free flowing collaboration, participation and a group space to record ideas, creativity is nearly impossible, and it’s also too easy for one person to dominate a brainstorm over the phone.

-Can you hear me nodding? Facial expressions and movements help the host understand and gauge how attendees perceive and feel about the presentation. Are they lost, bored or curious about a particular point? Without that instant feedback, it’s harder to make meetings a success.

-Excited? Void of body language, conference calls can also be less personable, which means that motivational speech doesn’t quite inspire and that big company announcement doesn’t amp everyone up quite like you hoped.

-What did we accomplish? Conference calls with constant interruptions and tangents can result in missed objectives, orphaned deliverables and in return, decreased productivity.

Do all these disadvantages mean you should give up on the conference call? Of course not – but you might rethink your solution.

Products like GlobalMeet® Audio, PGi’s high-quality, reliable audio conferencing solution, practically reinvent the conference call. Features like an easy-to-use visual interface easily prevent confusion, interruptions and awkward pauses.

One-click joining eliminates dial-in numbers, passcodes and many of your latecomers. Crystal clear audio quality wipes out choppy, robotic voices and static. You can even integrate your conference call with your existing collaboration tools for better engagement and a better audio experience.

Before you throw in the towel on the conference call, request a demo of GlobalMeet Audio and experience the impact that a superior software solution can have on your meetings.

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Etiquette Tips for an Awesome Conference Call

Conference calls happen every day in the business world. You may find yourself meeting with colleagues, clients or prospects. No matter who is on the line, it’s important that you conduct your meetings in a professional manner. Not only will it ensure your calls are successful, but it will also help leave a lasting impressing on those you are meeting with.

Practice these 4 business etiquette tips on your next conference call to ensure its success:

  1. Have a clear agenda

Before you even begin your meeting, you should build out a clear and concise agenda. This agenda should have all of your major discussion topics listed. Include this agenda in your meeting invitation so all meeting attendees can view prior to the meeting. An effective agenda will help ensure the meeting stays on topic and ends on time.

  1. Distance yourself from distractions

Are you getting ready to join a conference call and you’re working from home? If so, make sure you put some distance between yourself and all of your animals. You don’t want others on the call to hear your dog chasing your cat around the living room. Try and go in a room where you can close a door. That way you can distance yourself from overexcited pets and loud children.

  1. No secret attendees

Make sure all of your attendees are aware who else is on the call. Include the names of your attendees in the body of your invite. Also, use a visual conference call tool that will allow meeting guests to see who has signed into the meeting and who is talking when.

  1. Offer mobile apps

In this day in age, people are always on the go. Whether they’re working from home or even traveling for business, people aren’t always near their computers. Mobile apps allow users to “see” the conference call no matter where they are located. This helps meeting attendees easily follow the conversation and better stay engaged throughout the meeting.

Are you interested in learning more business etiquette tips that can help ensure your next conference call is a success? Be sure to visit PGi’s SlideShare page to view “11 Business Etiquette Tips for Awesome Conference Calls”.

3 Tips for Using a Managed Event Service

Meetings happen every day in the business world. Most of us have even had the opportunity to host a few of our own. Generally, meetings are pretty easy to manage effectively.

However, sometimes we are expected to host meetings that are extremely important. Events such as Quarterly Earnings Calls, Press Events, Corporate Announcements and others usually fall into this category. For these types of meetings, you usually want some extra assistance and resources to help ensure a flawless execution.

Do you not have much experience working with a managed event service? Not a problem. Here are three tips that will help you when using this service. 

  1. Before your call

As soon as you schedule your meeting with a managed event service, you will be assigned to your personal event expert who will take care of all of the details from beginning to end.  You may want someone to coordinate rehearsals before the call or drive interaction through an operator-managed Q&A. No matter how you choose to customize your event, an experienced event expert will be able to walk you through it.

  1. During your call

By the time your call begins, you have already spent plenty of time with your event expert and everything should be in place. During your meeting, your event expert will be able to provide a professional and secure experience for all of your meeting guests. The expert makes sure all attendees are greeted upon entering the call and keep all of your information secure with the latest encryption technology security features.

  1. After your call

After your call, your event expert will continue to provide any necessary follow-up services you wish to have. Demographic information of the attendee list, professional grade recordings or even a full transcript of the call can be arranged.

It’s important to select a high-quality, reliable managed event service to ensure everything goes as planned. PGi’s dedicated event experts have managed hundreds of high-touch audio events for some of the world’s largest companies. Our event managers have years of experience helping customer personalize their events and taking care of all the details.

Would you like to know more about PGi’s expert event management and learn how PGi works with you every step of the way? Click here to read more information, of go ahead and connect with a meeting expert today.