A conference phone is the easiest way to conduct or participate in a meeting. Using a conference phone is ideal where audio is more important than visual. If documents are being discussed, they can be emailed in advance, placed on the web, or use shared cloud space, such as http://live.com, Google Docs, http://dropbox.com, etc.
Most conference rooms are equipped with a conference phone with a built-in speaker and microphone. By simply pressing the SPEAKER button on the phone, a small group (1-8) gathered within 10 feet or so can both hear and be heard. A MUTE button allows you to silence your side of the conversation. The Walla Walla Community College phone system allows for up to 3 remote sites to call one phone number and be joined into one conference call without the need for a separate conference bridging service.
To Make a Conference Call (3 or Fewer Sites):
- Enter 9 (or 8 for SCAN), then the first telephone number
- When the party answers, ask them to hold until you call the other person(s)
- Press the button with the telephone handset icon (Hold) or the “Conf” button
- Dial 9 (or 8), then the second number. When that person answers, let them know you are going to connect them to the conference
- To add a third person, repeat steps three and four
- Press the Conference button again, and check in with all parties
If A Caller Dials Into the Line: Watch for a light to flash. Press CONF to park your current attendee(s) and pick up the next caller by pressing the button next to the flashing light. Press CONF again to join them into the conference.
You do have to pay attention though, so some people prefer an external bridging service where each site calls one central number and the organizer is not the operator, as the following section explains.
For More Than 3 Sites (Or If An External Bridge Is Preferred):
Method 1: DIS ((Washington State) Department of Information Services) Bridge
You can set up a conference bridge at the DIS-supported service in Olympia. Call 1.888.241.7597 to arrange either a:
- “Meet Me” call, set up with the State Operator (charges incurred by each participant)
- “Operator Assisted” call, set-up and established by State Operator (charges incurred by originator)
- “Mix” call (combo of 1 & 2) (charges incurred by originator)
Method 2: Free Conference Call
A free conference call service is also available. It supports up to 97 callers and is easy to setup. Simply go to http://www.freeconferencecall.com/signin.asp and follow the instructions.