Conference calls have become the need of the hour with more and more companies having remote employees and outsourcing manpower from different parts of the country or abroad. Conference calls are just another form of meeting. No problem if you are working from home, own a business or want to stay in touch with friends or relatives, you can take the benefit of free services available in the market.
Currently, the world is going through the worst of its times as Coronavirus has taken a toll on different parts of the world. To reduce the spread, most of the workers, employees, students, etc., have been advised to work from home. For the time being, you will need the calling software every other minute.
Now, if you are wondering which free service you should use, Google Voice is the answer. When you need to talk to multiple people simultaneously or even a single person, Google voice conference call is one great option. It is quite easy and straightforward to configure and manage an audio conference call with this program. Google voice is even useful for business purposes where you need to conduct a meeting with more than one person.
Highlighting Features of Google Voice Conference Calling
Let’s first know about the highlighting features of Google Voice Conference Calling:
1. Unlimited Conference Calling and SMS
Google voice comes inexpensive as a conference calling solution, as the subscription plans start at just $10 per user per month. You can make unlimited free calls to the United States from anywhere, or even from the US to Canada. United States citizens also get unlimited free SMS messaging. Google voice is way cheaper than the standard cell phone and landline packages, and there are no minute restrictions or overcharges as well. However, you will need Google Meets or Google Hangouts to use the conference calling feature of Google voice.
2. Calls Screening and Filtering
Just like you can filter emails, Google Voice lets you filter incoming calls so that you can manage them more effectively and boost productivity.
Be it a call from someone you don’t want to talk to, a spam call, or any unwanted call, you can set Google Voice to send such calls to voicemail or block them altogether. You can also set a voicemail message for a particular number if you want.
3. Compatibility with all Devices
Google voice gives you a free phone number to get unrestricted access from any device. You can use your Google voice number on any device such as Android, iOS, and web applications.
4. Variety of Plans
Google Voice offers a variety of plans:
- The Starter plan at $10 is best for conference calling for teams of up to 10 members.
- Upgrading to the $20 per user per month Standard plan will allow unlimited users and domestic locations along with some additional features such as ring groups, eDiscovery for calls, SMS, and voicemail records, and multi-level auto attendants.
- The Premier plan starts at $30 per month and is best for people who work internationally. This plan supports international locations along with all the features that you get in the Standard Plan.
You must select a plan that best fits your business requirements.
Requirements to Make a Google Voice Conference Call
To initiate a Google Conference call, you will need:-
- a Google account,
- a computer, smartphone, or tablet with the Google Voice app installed; for computers, you can use it through the web.
- a stable internet
If you have a Gmail account, you can start using Google voice right away.
How Do I Setup A Google Conference Call?
To initiate a Google Conference call, you need to have a Google account, computer, smartphone or tablet that has the Google Voice app installed. If you have an Android or iOS device, you can install the app and for a computer, you can use it through the web.
If you have a Gmail account, you can start using the Google voice right away.
Getting Started with Google Voice
- Go to the Google Voice website and click on one out of the available options- ‘For Personal’ or ‘For Business’.
- Clicking on ‘For Personal’ will ask you to choose from the next three choices- Android, iOS or Web. If you are using it on your phone, you will be directed towards the app link otherwise towards the ‘Google Voice Sign Up’ page.
- On the next page, enter a city or area code to get a phone number of that region.
- Go through the available numbers and choose one for you as your Google Voice number, click on ‘Select’.
- Then verify your existing phone number using the ‘Verify’ button.
- Enter a number to link to your Google Voice account where your incoming calls will be forwarded, then press ‘Send Code’.
- Enter the code that you have received on your phone and tap ‘Verify’ for confirmation.
- Click on ‘Claim’ to confirm the call forwarding to that number and press the ‘Finish’ button to complete the setup process of Google Voice.
- Again click ‘Finish’ to open your Google Voice account.
Clicking on ‘For Business’ will take you to the ‘Get Started’ page.
Google Voice- How to Start An Audio Conference Call?
Before learning about the conference call, let’s know how to use Google voice to make free phone calls to a single person, here are the steps:
- Log in to your Google Voice account and click on the button ‘Make a Call’ given on the left.
- In the ‘Call’ section, enter a name or number and hit the green phone icon to let Google dial the number.
- Google Voice will call the number and connect you to it.
You can even use Google Voice to make free PC to phone calls by installing the free Google Voice and Video Chat Plugin, also known by the name of Hangout Plugin.
Now to make a conference call via Google Voice, here is what you need to do:
- Make sure to inform all the participants in advance that they should call you at the pre-decided time. The first step is to make a call through Google Voice to any of the people or let one of them call you.
- Once the call is active, start adding other participants when they dial the number. You will get an alert for the incoming call and to accept the call, press 5 after listening to the message about making a conference call.
- You can even record a conference call, for instance, if it is for business purposes, but you need to turn on the option from the settings under Incoming Call options.
- All participants will then be added to the conference call. Press 4 to start recording the call and all the participants will be alerted when the recording is started and ended.
What is the Participants Limit for Google Voice Conference Call?
Only 10 participants are allowed with a free Google Voice account while with a paid Google Voice account, you can add up to 25 people in your conference call.
25 might not be enough for a huge enterprise and in this case, for a conference call, you can use Google Hangouts Meet (a video conference call service included with your G Suite license) that allows you to include up to 250 participants on a video or regular conference call.
Tips to Make the Best Use of Google Voice Conference Calling
To ensure maximum benefit and best experience with Google Voice Conference Calling feature, here are some quick tips for you:
1. Inform the Time in Advance
Conference calls consume a lot of time, hence make sure you inform everyone in advance who is going to be a part of the call to be ready at a fixed time. This will keep the participants informed about when to call you; you just have to press 5 to add every subsequent call.
To organize your calling schedule, you can create a Google Calendar invite and add Google Voice Conference Calling as an event before sending out invites to your guests, or you can simply send an email.
2. Manage Routine Workflows
Google voice can be a great tool for managing everyday workflows with scheduled conference calls. Through the admin control center, you can customize number assignments, porting, auto attendance, call forwarding, and much more. Apart from that, you can also assign one of your Google voice numbers to different users.
Note- Google voice is not compatible with third-party software, hence you cannot integrate it with a CRM, helpdesk, or other apps.
3. Say NO to Spam
Receiving spam calls can easily ruin your day and it also puts your personal information at risk. The good news is Google Voice takes care of spam calls when you use it for making conference calls. It uses AI technology to filter spam calls and even lets you view spam calls, texts, and voicemails from the Google Voice app.
4. Call Recording
Google Voice even lets you record calls with just a single click. All the participants have joined the call, you can start recording by pressing 4 on the dial pad. Doing this will play an automated announcement for all the participants that the call is being recorded. To stop the recording, you will have to press 4 again or just end the call. The voicemail tab will have all the call recordings that can be used for future reference.
Google Voice for Free Conference Call- A Yay or Nay?
Google Voice is not a conferencing service basically, so you cannot have higher expectations. However, it performs decently when it comes to making a group phone call. You can only add 10 people with a free account, that’s a limitation too.
What makes it great is its ability to connect the participants’ calls from any type of phones such as Android, iPhone, a Skype number or another Google Voice number.
There are no tools available to manage the people in the call and you cannot send an invite as you can do with other video conference call services. Conference Calling on Skype has some additional features as compared to Google Voice.
Another limitation is, free calls using Google Voice can be made up to three hours at a stretch, after that it will be disconnected. You will have to call the number again. Also, the calls are free only if you call someone in the United States or Canada or else it will cost you a few bucks. All in all, Google Voice has the required conferencing features that anyone with basic devices can use. It integrates well with the smartphone and iPhones, so a thumbs up from my side.