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Find the Best Conference Calling Service for You

By Jaimy Ford for America's Backbone Weekly

If you run a business, chances are at some point you will need to lead a conference call. You many need to host a team meeting with dispersed employees, offer training to new staff, hold an information session with customers or discuss business strategy with an investor.

Conference calls can allow you to stay connected with your entire organization relatively cheaply. The right service can drastically improve your meetings, making them much more productive, less boring and more successful.

But how do you know what type of service to use? Check out these seven popular options:

1. Conference Calling
Ideal for on-the-go business professionals, Conference Calling allows you to dial into a call with one one-push technology right from your mobile phone. And you can host instant conference calls without having to preschedule or use operator assistance. Conference Calling also offers you the ability to schedule calls, record them for later review, monitor who has joined the call through web controls and more.

Pay $19 per month for up to 15 people or 0.02 cent per minute per line.

2. WebEx
For businesses who want to wow customers, investors and the like with sophisticated online presentations, WebEx is a popular choice. This service allows you to easily share slide decks to attendees' video feeds, edit slides, and chat, so it is ideal for collaborating. WebEx is scalable, too, allowing you to connect with large crowds and even host webinars.

Plans start at $24 per month for eight people.

3. Uberconference
One of the simplest conference tools out there, Uberconference doesn't even require you to use a pin. In fact, this service will call participants for you. One of the best features, however, is that you can always see who is talking, so gone are the days of saying, "Who said that?" Easily share screens, and take advantage of call controls, for example, that allow you to mute background noise and text other meeting participants.

You can test Uberconference with the basic free version, or upgrade to packages from $10 per month that offer more capabilities.

4. Infinite Conferencing
Especially useful for large companies—it can support up to 1000 participants—Infinite Conferencing offers some of the best security options on the market. It fully integrates with Microsoft office, offers one-click publishing of Microsoft PowerPoint, Word or Excel files and allows file transfers and slide annotations.

To use the reservationless option, pricing starts at 0.025 cents per minute per user. Operated-assisted rates start at 18 cents per minute per user. You can also opt for other flat-rate packages starting at $15 per month.

5. Zip conferencing
Zip conferencing is built for business owners who only need to use the service once or infrequently, offering an inexpensive pay-as-you-go option. It offers all the bells and whistles, including Microsoft integration, HD-quality audio, global coverage and more. It maxes out at 300 participants, so if you are planning larger sessions, you'll want to pick another option. Pricing starts at 1.6 cents per minute.

6. Arkadin (formally Accuconference)
If you want more interaction options for participants, this service offers polling, chat, and live Q&A options that allow you to engage attendees. In addition, you can record your calls, track participants, incorporate PowerPoint and more. If you want simplicity, the website touts a quick five-minute setup, and the pricing packages are simple too. The Unlimited Plan is a flat $39.95 per month for frequent users or you can purchase pre-paid minutes and pay as you go.

7. AT Conference
For business owners who want to track their expenses more accurately, AT Conference offers flexible billing codes so you can assign time to specific projects, clients and departments. It also provides emailed reports with a complete record of every call, so you can monitor your spending. And it boasts a secure, cloud-based user control center that allows you to manage and control your invoices and payment, add or delete users, access recordings, and generate real-time call usage reports. You don't have to sign any contracts or pay set-up fees either.

You will need to contact the company to receive a quote for the monthly package plan. Or you can pay as you go at 7.9 cents per minute per user.

Take your meetings up a notch by investing in conferencing technology. It's an inexpensive way to ensure your meetings run more efficiently and productively, while building your reputation as a professional, tech-savvy company.

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Jaimy Ford is a professional business writer withnearly a decade's worth of experience developing newsletters, blogs, e-letters,training tools and webinars for business professionals. She contributes to bothThe Intuit Small Business Blog and Docstoc.com. She also serves as editor-in-chief of SalesMastery, a digital magazine writtenspecifically for sales professionals.
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