Joining a formal conference call from a mobile device is inevitable at some point -- whether you're in a hotel room in Beijing, on a construction site in Dubai or outside your son's suburban hockey rink. Fortunately, BlackBerry and other mobile devices make joining a conference call easy. Assistance from companies that provide conference hosting services also can put you in touch easily with the other participants.
The process of joining many formal business conference calls hasn't changed much since everyone participated on a landline. You're given a phone number to call to connect to the specific conference and a PIN to use for security. Specifically, you:
- Dial the number at the correct time.
- Wait for the prompt after you're connected.
- Enter the PIN you received.
- Announce yourself to the group when you're connected to the conference.
The big difference with a mobile phone is being able to join the conference from your own personal device, anywhere, any time.
Some conference hosting companies like Vello Corp. offer a paging service to make joining the conference even easier. This solves the problem of remembering phone numbers and PINs -- and trying to punch them into your mobile device while you're doing something else. With the Vello service, your phone rings at conference time, and you're automatically connected with everyone. Currently available for BlackBerry users, the service is being rolled out for other mobile devices and requires registration for Vello conferencing services. [source: Vello press release].
Whether you're paged or you dial in, take care of a few details before joining the conference so you can participate politely.
Here are some suggestions that Treo manufacturer Palm Inc. offers from seasoned pros:
- Make sure your phone is charged before joining the call. Nothing is more frustrating than suddenly dropping out in the middle of a conference because you're out of power.
- Look at the signal strength bars on your screen. If you only see one or two, try to move to a better location.
- Right before the call, flip your mobile device's ringer switch to off to reduce distractions. This mutes systems sounds and alerts except for the microphone and phone speaker.
- If possible, don't use the speakerphone on your mobile device during conference calls. The sound quality isn't as good, and straining to hear you may frustrate other participants.
- Background noise also can be a problem. If you're alone, use a headset to keep ambient noise at a minimum.
[source: Palm's Knowledge Base]
During the conference call, keep your focus on what's being said. Most mobile devices will allow you to send text messages, check your calendar, play games or use other non-Internet applications while you're on a conference call. Resist the temptation, and you won't find yourself saying, "I'm sorry . . . what did you say?"
Participating in a formal business conference call is one thing. Hosting is another. Keep reading to discover your options for hosting a conference call from your mobile device.