How to Record Conference Calls — Answering Reader’s Question

Carolyn writes with the following question about recording conference calls:

I’d like to have a conference call with the two speakers and interview them in much the same way as I’ve heard you do. I’d like that interview to be a podcast and am wondering what I need to do besides record the phone conversation. Recording is a free feature of http://www.freeconferencecall.com/; the only cost is your long distance charges if they apply. However, you mentioned Skype on your site and so I downloaded that. I can see that two benefits to using it over freeconferencecall.com are that it is free (or maybe $29.95 per year for me, but how about my callers?) and that it won’t conflict with my land line (calls from the other line won’t beep through).

You can use Skype to talk to numerous people (in Skype, go to Tools > Create a Conference Call.) If you talk to more than 4-5 people, though, I believe the quality degrades. You’ll also need software to record Skype calls. I recommend Pamela for Skype. Pamela records both you and the caller on separate tracks, so you can adjust volume levels later. Skype does cost money if you call landline phones in the U.S., but it doesn’t cost your callees.

If your callers have Skype connections too, then it’s free for you. Expect differences in volume levels between you and your callers.

You can also use www.freeconferencecall.com, as you mentioned. But I haven’t tried it. I did try Freeconferencing from LiveOffice for a podcast with three callers plus myself (and blogged about it here). I learned about this service from a post on Chris Pirillo’s site — I can’t find the post, but here is a related one. The only charge is that you must dial a number in Minnesota to connect to the service. Otherwise, it’s free.

It would have sounded better if I used a landline. One drawback was that all voices were on the same track, so it was difficult to adjust audio levels. Never use cell phones for call recording, by the way. It results in poor sound.

You can edit the podcast in Audacity (or other audio software). I would be happy to publish interviews related to tech comm on Tech Writer Voices.

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By Tom Johnson

I'm a technical writer working for the 41st Parameter in San Jose, California. I'm primarily interested in topics related to technical writing, such as visual communication (video tutorials, illustrations), findability (organization, information architecture), API documentation (code examples, programming), and web publishing (web platforms, interactivity) -- pretty much everything related to technical writing. If you're trying to keep up to date about the field of technical communication, subscribe to my blog either by RSS, email, or another method. To learn more about me, see my About page. You can also contact me if you have questions.

6 thoughts on “How to Record Conference Calls — Answering Reader’s Question

  1. Scott

    Tom,

    A great set of links. One tool that I like to use to record Skype calls is PowerGramo (http://www.powergramo.com/). It’s kind of like Pamela, but I find it a easier to use. The full version, which costs $24.95, lets you record conference calls. But that might be a bit more than some people want to spend.

    Scott

  2. Tom

    Thanks Scott. I was thinking of Powergramo as I wrote that, but since I hadn’t used it, I felt hesitant to recommend it. But you guys have used it and it seems to have worked very well.

    Which brings up another question – I haven’t heard any podcasts from you lately. Have you been busy?

  3. Scott

    Tom,

    >Have you been busy?

    The short answer is yes. The slightly longer answer is incredibly busy, both with business matters and personal things. So much so that we haven’t been able to do much podcasting and blogging lately. On top of that, we’ve moved our Web site to a new host, switched the blog to WordPress, and are in the process of giving the site a face lift.

    Aaron and I are hoping to get back on track in the next couple of weeks.

    Scott

  4. Joseph Hollak

    Great post.

    I was thinking as I was reading that the Pamela app that you mentioned was exactly what I was looking for.

    Then I found bad news.

    It will not run for us Mac users.

    Any other Mac users out there with suggestions on what to use to record a Skype call?

  5. Gina Smart

    PubClip lets you record conference calls to MP3 files. The service allows you to record any phone call using your 3-way calling. There is a flat fee and no additional per minute charges. You can simply save or download the audio file to your computer but you can also share, publish or stream the file. You can publish to podcasts, blogs, emails or web pages. All files remain private unless you choose to publish.

    To try it for FREE go to http://www.pubclip.com

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