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Free online conference calls done right

Online conference calls are supposed to make our lives easier, but the reality is that they're often quite a hassle, with complicated setup, shared conference lines and scheduling mishaps, and limited sharing software that makes it hard to show a PowerPoint deck to a group of remote people. If you're frustrated by your existing tools, check out CrunchConnect, a powerful and free online conferencing tool that seems to get just about everything right.

CrunchConnect is an online conferencing tool from SalesCrunch, a sales automation startup. CrunchConnect is a service that requires just a quick account creation to get started. It also depends heavily on JavaScript, and required me to update every web browser I tried to use it on. Once I got past the initial setup, though, CrunchConnect was awesome.

You can start a meeting with just a few clicks, uploading a PowerPoint deck in the process. Invitees don't need to join CrunchConnect -- just send them an invite or email them a direct link to the meeting. Attendees can see the PowerPoint deck, text each other with an integrated instant messaging tool, and share control of the screen. You can promote anyone on the call to presenter and give them the ability to display their PC. Conference calls also have a dedicated call-in number, so you can let CrunchConnect call you and connect the call, or you can share the number and passcode.

Perhaps the coolest feature is CrunchConnect's tracking tool. When you share the meeting invite, it goes out as a trackable link, which lets you see who opens and reviews your presentation after the meeting is over.

You can try out CrunchConnect for free -- you can store one PowerPoint deck and get 200 conference call minutes. For $39 a month, you can conference up to 10 people with 10 decks, and get 500 minutes. There are additional plans as well, for $59 a month and $99 a month. Check out the full pricing plans at CrunchConnect.