We had a conference call this morning with the team that is reviewing and editing my book.

Google+ Hangout: I was on a group call a few weeks ago. It was hosted with Google+ Hangout. The advantage is free conference call with video, recording of the call, and screen share. The disadvantage: it only works 60%. I say 60% because it can host up to ten people, but only six were able to join. For whatever reason, four couldn’t get on.

Skype: It’s easy to make calls with Skype. I do that frequently. I thought a conference call would also be easy. It’s a good thing that several of us started 40 minutes early, because it took that long to get it to work. To add more than one person, or to share a screen, you have to sign up for Skype Premium. The signup process isn’t clear, and after a few minutes, with others waiting on the line, I signed up for a One-Day Pass (US$5). For some reason, even though Skype knew I was in the US, it asked me if I wanted to pay in Euros and seven other currencies. You have to select US$ and then set the preference. The maximum number of people is ten, which isn’t that much.

Some of the callers couldn’t figure out the settings, microphone, sound, etc. It took another ten minutes to get everyone settled down. ┬áIn the end, it worked, but it wasn’t a good experience. Too complex.

GoToMeeting: I’ll try this for the next call. I’ll update this posting.

If you know of a better conference calling service, please let me know!

For any conference call,

  • Remind people to mute their microphones if they aren’t actively talking.
  • There should be a host (who leads the call) and a moderator, who handles the call process: adding people, re-adding people who get dropped, dealing with text messages, emails, and chat messages, and watching the clock.
  • You need the ability to record the entire event, incl. screen shares and video.
  • If the sound starts to break up, turn off video.
  • Start 30-45 minutes early to get everything set up and working