No-Fee Web Conferencing From Within Outlook with Google Apps
One of the biggest myths about using Google Apps is that you have to work completely outside the Microsoft Office environment. This is simply not the case; you can work with documents from Excel, Word and more without missing a beat.
Another important thing Google Apps helps you do without having to pay any extra money for the service is web conferencing from within Outlook. Unlike with other video conferencing services, there is no need to purchase expensive equipment or purchase a monthly subscription to a conferencing service. You can do it all with your computer's built-in camera and microphone. Plus, you can invite outside guests to your conference once the conference has started.
Download Hangouts Plugin for Microsoft Outlook to Get Started
All you need to do to add this functionality is download the Hangouts Plugin for Microsoft Outlook. This is completely free and requires no ongoing fees. Once it is downloaded and installed, you'll be able to start a Google Hangout just by clicking on 'Start a New Hangout' in the Outlook menu bar, directly beside 'New Email' at the top left of the screen. You will then be able to talk to your meeting participants using either video or voice, without incurring any long distance fees.
Inviting Guests to Your Conference
Guests working in your company can be added to the call before it starts by clicking on Invite People when you create the Outlook Calendar event. You will then be given an internal list of people to choose from.
If you want to invite external guests, start the call, click 'Invite People' and change the settings to 'Allow' for allowing outside guests. Then use the share link at the top right (looks like a small chain link) to invite guests by email. Guests must have a Gmail account in order to use Hangouts.
So how would you schedule this in advance? Simply start an event in your Outlook Calendar, invite your desired internal contacts, and send the event invite to your external guests by email. Note on the event listing that they will be invited to the conference once the call starts via email and that they must have a Gmail account to participate. Additionally, you can just call a phone number directly from Google Hangouts to add someone to the conference if you want to get around the 'must have Gmail' requirement for external guests; they just won't be able to participate in video conferencing.
Google Voice Lets You Call Free to Anywhere in North America Using Your Computer
Another little-known but highly useful feature is Google Voice. You can get at Google Voice in two different ways - either right from Google Hangouts or from Gmail. To open Google Voice from Hangouts, click the magnifying glass beside your name in Chat, then click the phone icon in the popup window and start typing your contact's name, or type the phone number you wish to call if they aren't listed in your contacts.
Google Voice is very clear and can easily replace your phone system for outgoing calls if you do a significant amount of long distance calling in your small business.