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Two Great Tools for Recording Phone Interviews

Writers, journalists, content marketers will find these free tools useful

· Tools,Writing

Whether I'm reporting a story or doing an important client call, I often find it helpful to have an audio recording of a phone conversation that I can access later or send off for transcription. After trying various approaches, the two tools I have come to use most and find reliable are:

Zoom and FreeConferenceCall.com. I use Zoom more often (probably about once a week on average), but I have always received good recording quality and service from both.

Here's a brief overview of each service and what I like about them:

Zoom offers paid plans, but I have found the free plan more than suitable for my purposes. It provides unlimited time for 1-on-1 meetings, and it's easy to record from your computer as this helpful video with screenshots shows:

Typically when I'm recording a call, I schedule it ahead of time, and Zoom has a free Chrome extension which integrates easily with Google Calendar. Once installed, you get a button in your Google calendar, which will automatically add the meeting information when you click it. This is super convenient!

The other thing I really like about Zoom is that it gives you the option to dial in from a phone (and the number is included in the calendar invite it provides) OR to connect from the computer. Since I usually just do audio (no video) for calls, the flexibility is great -- the people I speak with don't have to be in front of the computer while chatting. Also if you use the phone option, you don't need to download anything to connect.

Another excellent feature is the "iPhone one-tap" -- this is basically a hyperlink that you click once from the calendar invite on your smartphone. It dials in to the call and adds the meeting ID at the appropriate time. No toggling between windows and scrambling to find or add the right code! My one beef is that calling it an "iPhone one-tap" is a bit misleading since it works for Android too.

I've been partial to using Zoom from my laptop and have found it a great option when I'm out of the country. They offer a free mobile app -- I just haven't tried it out.

FreeConferenceCall.com is another easy, quick way to record calls and doesn't require you or the other people on the call to be at a computer. The basic, free plan offers a max. of 1,000 callers (probably way more than you'll ever need) and the limit on each call is six hours. If you are doing a group interview, this might be a better option than Zoom since it caps meeting times (I think around 40 minutes) if you have more than two people participating.

After signing up for a free account, you get an email providing you with your own dial-in number, access code, and host pin. While this doesn't seem to matter with how phone plans in the U.S. are configured these days, it's worth noting that their free plans don't give you a toll-free number. When you register, you also get an online meeting ID, and it looks like they too have free options for online meetings. I haven't tried it out so can't speak to that.

As I looked through the website while writing this, it looks like FreeConferenceCall.com also has a Chrome extension for scheduling. Nice!

Recording a call is no hassle. Just press *9 and 1 any time during the call to start recording. All participants are notified that the recording has started. The service provides up to 1GB of recording space, and recorded calls are saved to your online account.

Happy free call recording!

Let's keep in touch. I send periodic emails with smart ideas for living, learning, and creating on your own terms.

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