Why Teleconference is better than “Telepresence”

What is a “Telepresence”?

The word “telepresence” conjures up images of the movie Avatar. It is supposed to imply that you actually have a “presence” in the room. Telepresence is a glossy marketing term that really means: “unnecessarily expensive teleconference”. A standard video conference call will give you exactly the same “presence” in a room.

For free!

A picture really is worth 1,000 words. This picture of a “Telepresence” group tells you everything you need to know about why teleconferencing is better than “telepresence.”

Unless you’re looking for a way to throw money off the back of a train, that is.

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3 reasons environmental organizations use conference calls

Like many other forms of social justice, environmental activism is changing. Organizations are sharing knowledge globally, and using simple technology to connect social movements. In the 21st century, activism is all about bringing people together across distance and experience.

In the Arab Spring, the primary “weapon” used was the telephone.

Conference calls live at the very heart of the new communication technology. For environmental non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the questions are not so much “do you” use teleconferencing, but “what features” do you use.

And also that great question, “Why?”

The three main reasons Environmental NGO’s use conference calls are to save money, to be more effective, and to walk their own talk. Like so many organizing strategies, the three are complementary, and help with achieving short, medium and long-term goals.

But all three, in their own way, help reduce the number of grants you need to write.

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What makes conference calls so useful to scientists?

Scientists pursue discovery in a highly competitive environment. Funding is tight. Knowledge is hoarded. The first one to publish gets all the glory, and often the financial rewards. Yet nowadays scientists often collaborate on projects even though they might belong to many different institutions scattered across the globe.

Conference calls are becoming more useful to scientists every year, as cost-effective teamwork becomes an increasingly central factor in discovery and invention.

Science is learning to crowd source, but it hasn’t always been so.

In 1895 when Alfred Nobel died, he held over 300 patents. He went down in history for inventing dynamite and establishing the Nobel Prize.

But one thing he couldn’t foresee was how his limit of maximum three shared recipients per prize would become wildly obsolescent over time.

He didn’t anticipate how important teamwork would become to science.

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Mobile Conference Call Apps Shatter the Boundaries of Time and Space

Organizations know that meetings are necessary to keep communication flowing between staff teams.

Unfortunately, the more staff you have and the more spread out they are, the more difficult it gets to assemble the right people in the same room at the same time.

Luckily, you don’t have to be Einstein to figure out how to engage all those people in space-time. The simple solution is to use Web Conferencing for meetings.

Even if you all work in the same building, by eliminating the “travel and assembly” portion, conference calls gives you the freedom to make it easy and convenient for staff teams to communicate better.

Mobile Conference Call Apps shatter the boundaries of time and space to take this freedom to a whole other level.

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A look back at 2015

Last year was a huge year for all of us here at FreeConference.com – we expanded our team, redesigned our entire product and launched a completely overhauled website, and on top of it iotum Inc (our parent company) was honored with inclusion on the Inc 500, Profit 500, and the Deloitte Fast 50 and 500. Here’s a look back at some of our biggest changes and a little bit of insight into our process.

First, the biggest and most obvious change: our …. well, everything! We completely overhauled the whole product – we introduced download-free video and screen sharing, international numbers, PINless-entry and more. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, though; let’s start where we all do, the website.

Some of you may remember our old website – needless to say, if we were going to make changes, this would be the place to start. The whole project took us the better part of a year – from the earliest designs, to copy and through pretty intensive analytics efforts, this was one BIG project.

old and new freeconference.com websites
Old vs. New FreeConference.com home pages – what a difference!

But it didn’t just stop at the surface of the website, there was a lot of internal user interface design happening in tandem. This wasn’t just a facelift, after all, this was a complete product overhaul, and one we were determined to do right.

In the summer we began a private beta test of the new product. Over the span of 3 months we engaged with a core group of long-time users to help us build the new FreeConference; we wanted to know what worked and what didn’t, what they wanted that we didn’t have, and how we could make our service easier to use. Ultimately, we ended up with a conference dashboard that looks something like this:

old and new freeconference.com dashboards
Old vs. New FreeConference.com dashboards – simplified and streamlined!

As we neared the end of our beta tests, we were finally ready to launch some two of our biggest new features, ones we’d been excitedly testing in our offices for months: download-free video and screen sharing.

When we created FreeConference 15 years ago we were the only independent, free, web-based conferencing product (and not just all together, we were the only one in each of those categories) and, at the time, it was a revolution. But times have changed, and so have we. Phone conferencing will always be the core of our product, and we will always strive to make our phone-conferencing systems as high quality and easy to use as possible, but it was time to adapt – and since we’ve never been in the business of simply borrowing someone else’s technology, that meant it was time to innovate (you don’t get to be the first conference calling company to support a call of over 250 people by waiting for someone else to do it first).

And so we developed an HD, in-browser, no-download, completely integrated, totally free platform for screen sharing, and web and video conferencing.

Download free video and screen sharing from FreeConference.com
Screen sharing in action!

Like I said, it was a big year.

Since we launched video and screen sharing we’ve been hard at work developing even more amazing, free features – including PIN-less call entry, text-message notifications, and mobile apps – and affordable paid bundles for our premium add-ons, because every business should be able to afford truly great conference calling.

We’re so proud of our entire team for pulling off such a huge amount of work in such a short time – and we can’t WAIT to show you what we have in the pipes for 2016.

Happy New Year to you and yours!
The FreeConference Team

Why Entrepreneurs Love Teleconferencing

If you wonder why entrepreneurs have a love affair going with teleconferencing, the answer is quite simple.

They were made for each other.

Entrepreneurs swim in a shark-infested sea of risk management. They thrive on innovation. Entrepreneurs are natural efficiency experts, and above all, they know how to bootstrap.

And the feeling is mutual. Teleconferencing loves entrepreneurs because entrepreneurs get teleconferencing.

It’s nice to be understood.

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The Tao of New Year’s Resolutions for Businesses.

 

Christmas can be tiresome, because it is now all about buying something. New Years is different. If you make a New Years Resolution, the holiday can be less about buying something and more about being something. This works for businesses too. We’re always being told to invest thousands of dollars in better Customer Relation Management (CRM) tools, shiny new websites or expensive consultants.

Does everything have to cost so much? Could we not just be a better business?

A wonderful way to become a better business is to improve our communication. After all, we don’t have to go out and buy new staff; we can just help them be more efficient and productive.

One of the simplest ways to improve communication in any organization is to use more conference call technology.

Why Conference Calls are so convenient

Everybody has a phone, and a phone is all you need to make a conference call. Everybody has a computer, too, which unlocks another level of convenience with Screen Sharing and Web Conferencing. You don’t have to purchase anything to take advantage of conference calls.

With Call Scheduling, you can automatically send out Invitations and Reminders, and set up Recurring Calls. You can use the Moderator Controls located in your Personal Meeting Room to make sure everybody can hear clearly.

Beyond the basics, there are an amazing number of features and possibilities available, like Call Recording, where you can get an MP3 file of your call emailed to within two hours for podcasts and videos, and Transcription, where you can get your meeting written out as a Word Doc.

But even with all these Features, the entire infrastructure needed is all in the Cloud, and it is maintained and upgraded by FreeConference.com. None of these teleconferencing features require downloads or software licenses. There is literally nothing to buy.

How Conference Calls help you become a better business

Conference calls make it so cheap to keep in touch with high quality audio calls and even Video Conferencing, that they let you have as many meetings as you need. While this can really matter if you have been trying to save money by cancelling transcontinental trips, it can still make a huge difference with a staff team located in a city, or even in one large office building.

Conference calls start when everyone picks up the phone.

There are no elevators, stairwells, hallways, meeting rooms, planes, trains or automobiles involved. Travel time and office disruption can be thought of as “meeting friction.” Reducing meeting friction is the easiest, most profitable way to promote communication in an organization.

Being a better business

A New Year’s Resolution to become a better business by practicing evolved communication is so much better than presenting Santa with a huge shopping list.

Like they say: you have to be the change you want to see in the world.

Conference Calls and Multidisciplinary Design Teams

What will soon be North America’s tallest wood framed building is under construction at the University of British Columbia (UBC). One of the world’s new “wooden skyscrapers,” it demonstrates that
environmentally friendly wood can be used as the framework to build large structures just as economically and safely as less ecological concrete, glass and steel.

One of the key tools in both its conception and construction will have been the conference call.

The project brought together a dozen partners, and engaged a design team on several continents. An incredible amount of information needed not only to be shared, but worked on in a collaborative process.

As a new project under a very public microscope, the residence couldn’t afford mistakes.

The project is a perfect example of how conference calls can help keep a multidisciplinary team connected for a successful project.

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3 ways to get your business prepared for a better New Year

We live in a culture obsessed by finding what’s new and exciting. That means, if you want your business and organization to prosper, you’ll not only have to deliver your product or service, but do it in a way that captures people’s imagination with the latest social media trends.

Champagne doesn’t just taste good; it has bubbles.

New Year’s is a great time to reflect on how you can prepare your business for a better year ahead.

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5 Reasons Consultants Use Conference Calls

If you are a consultant, closing new contracts is probably the hardest part of your job. Organizations are always afraid of change, even if they know they need it.

Of course, one of the biggest fears clients must face is their misunderstanding that organizational development is a cuttable “cost”, when it should be thought of as a vital investment. But it isn’t just the fees that scare customers away, it is the perception that the consulting process will incur organizational costs by chewing up too much precious staff time.

Smart consultants mention the use of conference calls in quotes because offering powerful, efficient and flexible communication technology as part of your package can help overcome those fears and close the deal.

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