(MoneyWatch) I spend a lot of time on conference calls, and getting on the call is often the most difficult part of the meeting. There's a number to dial and a passcode to enter. Some callers get the host and attendee passcodes confused, which leads to entirely different problems. That's why I'm always on the lookout for better conferencing solutions, and I think I've found one.
Speek is a painless Web-based conferencing tool that you can use to chat with any number of remote attendees. Of course, Speek isn't the first service to ever come along promising to make life simpler. Here are some other tools I've recommended in the past:
Using Speek is exceedingly easy. When you visit the site for the first time, you get to pick a URL for your calls (mine is www.speek.com/davejoh). Then, to set up a conference call, just email that link to all the attendees. When an attendee gets the link, they just click it and enter their phone number. Speek immediately calls them back and that's it -- they've joined the call. Callers can also dial in to the call the old-fashioned way (that's mainly for office workers who have an extension) or connect via their PC.
There's also an optional Web component to Speek. The Speek Web page graphically displays all the active attendees, each of whom can send text messages and upload files during the call. Speek can even connect to Dropbox, the popular file-sharing service, to make it easier to share files. You also have a custom dashboard on Speek that lets you see your completed calls, manage your account and control "away" messages that get sent if someone tries to start a conference using your link if you're not online.
Speek works like a charm (and has earned a bookmark in my browser's Favorites). The service makes it crazy easy to get a conference call up and running, and the sound quality is just fine. For now Speek is free, though a pricing model is coming for premium subscribers.
Photo courtesy of Flickr user plenty r