Skip to site content
The Group Travel Leader Going on Faith Select Traveler

Three free phone resources every meeting planner should be using

Sherry Truhlar, of

Serving as a meeting planner, like a charity auction chair, is stressful. Let’s ensure you’ve got at least some basic tools to make planning the event easier.

I often equate running a benefit auction to running a small business. Many small businesses have gross incomes of less than $100,000, so many nonprofit auctions rival the income of a small business. If you are chairing an auction or another kind of event, you have to think like a small-business owner, which entails choosing the right tools to run the operation.

1. Free conference calls: No Cost Conference
Your event committee needs to touch base. Regularly! So use No Cost Conference’s free service to chat it up.  It has successfully managed my tele-classes when I have hundreds of people on the line, so I know it will work for your five-, 10-, or 15-person committee.

One of the great capabilities is the control the moderator has. When everyone starts speaking at the same time (which is easy to do on a conference call), you, as moderator, have the capability to mute everyone, using either your computer or your phone.  As each person needs to give his or her status report, simply un-mute the lines one-by-one to allow individual questions and status reports.

2. Free phone number: Google Voice

If you’re managing multiple vendors (caterer, venue, auctioneer, event manager), Google Voice is great for ensuring you don’t play phone tag. When someone dials your number, it rings ALL your phones (cell, work, home).

If that makes you feel a little too accessible, program the number to ring to a particular phone. Perhaps a call from your procurement chair rings all three phones, but a call from the production company only rings your work and cell.

Or take it one step further. Have messages go straight to voicemail on your computer, where they will then be transcribed for you.

3. Free direct-to-voicemail connection: SlyDial
Assume you need to leave the chatty decorations chair an important message, but you have no time to waste talking with her about her weekend plans with the family.

You can avoid talking with her — but still share the information she needs — by using SlyDial’s voice-mail service. After you listen to a short advertisement, the system will directly connect you to your chair’s mobile voicemail. She thinks she missed your call, but you know better.

With these three tools, staying in touch with your event planning team has never been so convenient.

Benefit auctioneer Sherry Truhlar’s stories and advice have been published in Town & Country, The Washington Post Magazine, Auctioneer, The Eleusis and The Virginia Auctioneer. Her ideas have been broadcast on television shows including E! Style and TLC. She inspires and teaches volunteers how to set new fund-raising records at auction galas. Enjoy her free Auction Item Guide, which lists the 100 best-selling items to sell at a benefit auction, at