There’s one industry that is thriving more than ever these days. Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS), better known as virtual communications platforms, have exploded in popularity and profits this year. With so many businesses rushing to connect their workers across the globe, there can be a bit of confusion about which services are best. One of the most important features that your solution should have is the ability to make conference calls.
RingCentral’s conference calls are some of the best in the business. It’s no wonder why their software has become one of the fastest-growing UCaaS options. The ability to make a conference call is one of the most widely used features, and RingCentral does not disappoint. Today we’ll look at why RingCentral’s conference calls are some of the best, and show you how to take full advantage of their potential.
Everything You Need to Know About RingCentral Conference Calls
What Is a Conference Call?
A conference call is essentially a meeting held over the phone or, nowadays, through a virtual platform that includes video and audio. If you think back to the Mad Men days, you imagine long conference tables surrounded by suits. Today’s technology allows us to recreate that environment virtually, and potentially with pajamas instead of in fine wool.
A conference call is a great way to get people from all over your company to meet and discuss matters together. Whether it’s for an important company event, a crucial meeting, or just a sales pitch for a potential client, a conference call can do it all. They’ve only gotten stronger as time has gone on.
Today you can set up a conference call in several ways. With RingCentral, you have the option of making your conference call in the classic style using phone lines, or you can go full sci-fi and use their conferencing apps. Let’s look at how each of these works.
The RingCentral Audio-Only Conference Call
In the good old days, a conference call was quite literally a call. You picked up the phone, used a dial in number, and everyone else who dialed that number would be able to communicate with one another. RingCentral’s audio conferences work in the exact same way, but with a few added features.
Since RingCentral uses Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, you don’t actually need a phone line to call in. It’s still possible to connect to an audio-only call with nothing but an old-fashioned rotary phone, but you can use other VoIP services too.
RingCentral can give you a dial in number in over 100 countries, so you can choose the location that best suits your needs for the call. You can also configure a numeric password that guests will have to dial in for extra security. Anybody can join an audio-only call, they don’t even need a RingCentral account.
RingCentral’s Video Conference Call Technology
Audio is great and all, but just like video killed the radio star, modern videoconferencing has put the audio-only call to rest for the most part. RingCentral conference calls go beyond audio and adds video to the mix, along with a ton of extra features. But don’t worry about your clients not being able to connect. If you set up a video conference call, you’ll still get a phone number that audio-only guests can use.
With video conferencing, you’ll be able to see everyone who enters your online meetings using one of RingCentral’s apps. If you’ve used Skype, FaceTime, or Zoom, then you’re familiar with how these work. But RingCentral’s platform allows you to do much more than any of those apps could on their own.
The features that you get depend on the plan you choose. RingCentral Office comes packaged in four different plans. Let’s take a quick look at the differences and how they affect your ability to make RingCentral conference calls.
The lowest tier plan, called the Essentials Plan, does not have any audio or videoconferencing capabilities. But once you move up to the Standard Plan, you get unlimited audio conferencing with up to 1,000 participants! This holds true for the higher-level plans too.
But what about seeing everyone on your screen? That’s what you’re really looking for, isn’t it? Well, the Standard Plan gives you up to 100 people in every meeting. A registered user has to make the meeting, but anyone from anywhere can join as long as they use the RingCentral app. Each user can only create one conference call at a time.
If you upgrade to the Premium or Ultimate tiers, you’ll get up to 200 people in your video conference call. If you need something extra special, quote by clicking “contact sales”. These tiers also include some additional features that we’ll get to later. Your calls can last up to 24 hours, perfect for a company contest to see who can survive the longest meeting in history or for practicing your filibuster skills.
How Do I Conference Call on RingCentral?
Once you have an account set up with the appropriate plan for your business, you’ll be able to make conference calls using RingCentral’s software. However, depending on your specific needs, you might need some extra equipment.
As we transition back to a sort of normal work life, you can expect to see both in-person conference calling and virtual conference calling. In fact, you might have to do both of these simultaneously. For instance, teachers are already doing hybrid classes where some students in the classroom are connected to their peers virtually through a conference call. Many office meetings are happening in the same way, with a group inside the office and others working from home.
Of course, you can do almost anything with your mobile phone, so that’ll work in either scenario in a pinch. But let’s look at both of these situations to see what you need to pull off the perfect conference call and keep your team connected.
In-Person Conference Calling
If you have a group of people for an in-person meeting, but need to be connected to a conference call, then you’re going to need a microphone that can pick up everyone in the room. RingCentral sells several models that are perfectly suited to this purpose. You’ll want an omnidirectional microphone since these can pick up sound from all angles. You should place one computer in the room with the microphone attached.
Likewise, you may need a camera so that your remote participants can see everyone in the room. For these cases, get a good one that captures images in Full HD. You should place it at the end of the room so that you can see everyone at the conference table. Logitech makes great webcams that connect to computers via USB.
Once you have the room set up, all you need to do is use the RingCentral app to start the meeting from the computer in the room. Do some test calls before you invite that huge client in so that you can make sure they get the best impression of your professionalism.
Having a well-equipped room for in-person conference calls is great, but what about all of those people connecting remotely? What about situations where your company has workers scattered all over the globe? That’s where RingCentral’s virtual conference call comes into play.
How Do I Call Into a Conference Call?
While your guests can opt to just call in from a phone and participate with nothing but audio, ideally you’d want everyone to be connected via a computer or the mobile app. This way you can actually use all the features included in your plan. But to take full advantage, you’ll need everyone to have a microphone and a camera.
Once you set it up in the app or your integrated calendar, you’ll get a link that you can send. Before you send your link please check to make sure you didn’t accidentally invite anyone you shouldn’t! Your guests will get a message that says “(Your boss) sent you a link ,and then they’ll be able to join.
Audio and Video Needs
Most laptops these days include both of those, but honestly, the quality is subpar since they tend to be tacked on and not a main design component. For audio, we would recommend a headset with a directional microphone. In these cases, omnidirectional microphones are actually a bad idea since you’re going to hear the kids screaming in the background or the persistent meowing of your coworker’s cat.
For cameras, you can use the same kind of camera that you would for your conference room. These have become quite affordable, and it may be a good idea to buy a headset and camera for all of your workers. Standardizing how your employees connect makes it easier to troubleshoot problems, and it presents a more professional image to prospective clients.
Encourage your workers to use wired internet connections whenever possible. Wi-Fi can work, but many people don’t know how to properly set it up at home for the best results. There’s nothing more frustrating than being in a conference call and having to awkwardly wait for someone’s camera to unfreeze. The endless echo of a disconnecting audio feed is also rather disturbing.
Which Option Is Best?
While you might be more familiar and comfortable with audio-only calls, you’re missing out on so many features if you stick to that method. It’s definitely better to use video conferencing since you’ll have the audio option anyway.
If you’re worried about reaching your participants limit, just remember that you can still have 1,000 people connected via audio even if you reach the limit of 100 or 200 people. If more people try to connect, they’ll be informed that the limit has been reached and they’ll be limited to audio only.
Setting Up a Conference Call
To set up a conference call, all you need to do is go into the RingCentral app and create a new task. You can invite everyone using their email addresses and the system will automatically make a call link if you as the user have permission to create and schedule calls.
But you can make it even easier by using RingCentral’s integration features. You don’t even have to enter their app if you’ve integrated RingCentral into your other software. Here’s how it works:
Can Microsoft Teams Do Conference Calls?
If you use Microsoft Office 365 or Google G Suite, then you probably already use their calendar services to schedule tasks and meetings with your team, and you know they can do calls. But it’s easy to work with Microsoft Teams or Google G Suite and RingCentral. You can link your company’s account to your RingCentral account so that you can create calls from the calendar program you usually use. Just install the Chrome plugin and link the two accounts.
Then when you create an event in Google Calendar or in Outlook, you’ll have the option to add a videoconference to the event. You can then select RingCentral and it will automatically generate a link and phone number for people to enter the call.
If you’re more of a spontaneous, spur of the moment conference caller, you can also just start your own from the RingCentral app and invite people once it’s open. Surprise someone on their birthday or throw a Fun Friday Fiesta after 5 PM!
The Host With the Most
Once your call has been scheduled, you need to enter it first to allow others to join. You can also configure it to start without you, which is useful if you’re setting up the meeting for someone else. You can designate other people as hosts too.
You can configure your default conference call settings within the RingCentral app so that every call you create works just the way you like it. Once you have your settings configured, it’s extremely easy to use RingCentral conference calls.
Features That Make RingCentral Conference Calls Amazing
Now that you’ve got the basics down, it’s time to take a look at all the other features that you get when you use RingCentral’s videoconferencing. It’s much more than just a video call.
All of these features are included with the Standard, Premium, or Ultimate plans, but the higher tiers do include a couple of extra bonus features.
With call reports, you’ll never have to remember who attended the conference call. You can look up a list of everyone who connected and see how long they were there. In addition, you’ll get quality-of-service reports that tell you if anyone had a bad connection. Now you’ll know for sure who was lying about their internet not working.
This works with audio-only participants too. However, if they just dialed in from a phone line, you’ll only be able to see their phone number.
If you opt for the Premium Plan, you also get real-time analytics that can help you analyze who participates more on your calls and how much time your teams spend together.
A New Account Experience
New accounts can obtain a free trial with all features enabled. You can start video conferences or audio conferences with the desktop app, or try using your mobile phone. Online meetings are easy to configure and you have access to customer service whenever you need it.
If you’re having trouble with a dial in number, be sure to allow a full minute for the connection to be made. Dial in numbers are connected using automated technology, which can cause a delay in the phone system. If the problem persists please contact support and they’ll get right on it.
When you install the mobile app, you’ll need to give the phone certain permissions to enable all the features. Consent to receiving calls and emails from RingCentral calls. If you have trouble connecting, you should wait a full minute between phone calls since VoIP uses your internet connection and your mobile device may still be receiving data when you try to call again.
If someone has sent you a link to a meeting, you can get connected by just clicking the button in the email and open the RingCentral phone app. If you get a strange link please check and verify who sent it to you! You have to watch out for the scammers these days. If someone you don’t know has sent you a link, better not to open it. If a problematic person persists please contact support to get that account blocked.
On mobile you may be connected using your internet connection or a local Wi-Fi network. You don’t need to get hit with a big phone bill at the end of the month. You can configure the app to restrict how much data it uses so that you never go over your limit.
With the Standard Plan, you can turn on recording at any moment and keep a perfect record of everything that happens on the call. The recording can be saved to your computer or to the cloud. Call recording works for all types of meetings.
You can use this feature for so many things. It’s great for legal reasons, since you have proof of whatever happened on the call. It’s also perfect for quality control as you can review the tape and give your employees some guidance, just like a football coach.
The Premium Plan automatically records all of your calls without you having to press a single button. If you pony up for the Ultimate Plan, you get unlimited cloud storage as well, so you don’t have to worry about deleting any of your recordings.
Screen Sharing and Annotations
One of the most useful features of video calls is the ability to share your screen and sound. This is perfect for PowerPoint presentations or for showing a video to the others on the call. You can share audio as well, so even the audio-only participants can hear what’s going on even if they can’t see it. When you share the screen, it’ll be added to the recording as well if you’ve enabled that feature.
But if you really want to feel like John Madden and be a true playmaker, turn on the screen annotations feature. You can open up a whiteboard and scribble on it with your mouse or with a pen tablet if you have one. You can quickly draw up circles and boxes to highlight key information. Or just draw funny pictures of your staff, it’s your call.
Multiple people can annotate at once if you allow them, which makes for great collaborative opportunities. Even if you’re not much of an artist, it’s a feature you can’t afford to miss out on. Give it a try at your next meeting and watch the fun ensue.
A Reliable Cloud Network
None of these features would mean anything if the network was unreliable. Fortunately, it’s one of the best in the business. They boast an incredible 99.999% uptime. Although that sounds like a made-up number, they have reported less than 10 minutes of downtime in the last year, so they have proof to back it up.
By using a cloud network, computers all over the world handle your audio conference calls. So even if one data center goes down, the other ones can pick up the slack and keep the system running smoothly. They also use compression technology to keep everyone’s camera feed clear and minimize the strain on individual internet connections.
Your saved recordings can be kept in this cloud too. Anyone in your organization can access the cloud and review the footage. As an added bonus, you can share documents during meetings or through the app, and these will be saved in the cloud as well. Allow a full minute at least for cloud saves to become available, as they need to be processed.
The Key to an Effective Conference Call
All of these features might seem a bit overwhelming. The key is to take your time and practice. Play around with the technology by inviting a few willing participants to try out the features. Experiment and see what works for your business and what features you can ignore.
Be patient too! Not everyone knows how to enter virtual meetings. After you send a link please check with your team to see if they know what to do. Allow a full minute, or several, for people to connect a bit late.
Just because you have all of these incredible options doesn’t mean you actually have to use them all. You can keep it simple, or break out the big guns. When you have a powerful platform like RingCentral, you truly can do whatever you want with your conference call.