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How to Record Conference Calls -- Answering Reader's Question

by Tom Johnson on Jun 6, 2007 •
categories: technical-writing

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).

There are many options for an audio conferencing line if you need to need to have it recorded. You can also use www.freeconferencecall.com, as you mentioned.

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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About Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson

I'm a technical writer based in the San Francisco Bay area. In this blog, I write about topics related to technical writing and communication — such as software documentation, API documentation, visual communication, information architecture, writing techniques, plain language, tech comm careers, and more. Check out simplifying complexity and API documentation for some deep dives into these topics. If you're a technical writer and want to keep on top of the latest trends in the field, be sure to subscribe to email updates. You can also learn more about me or contact me.

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