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What Is a Conference Call & Best Practices!

What Is a Conference Call & Best Practices!

A conference call allows numerous people from different locations to join the same call at the same time.

Depending on your team’s needs and budget, it might take the form of an audio, video, or online conference. It is similar to any other business meeting, except that it is held on a desktop, laptop, or mobile phone—ideal for enterprises’ changing communication and collaboration demands.

Conference calls function similarly to phone calls, but link more than two people.

They also provide further features, such as the option to block undesirable visitors.

There are also other ways to initiate a conference call, making them a more versatile and powerful alternative for group calls.

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  1. The host adds participants to the call: The host initiates the call by dialing the number of each participant. Other participants join the call as the hosts dial additional numbers.
  2. The participants connect to a conference bridge: Invited participants are able to join a meeting by dialing a number or entering the meeting ID, which will connect them to a conference bridge. Conference bridges serve as virtual rooms that enable users to host or join meetings.

Voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) conference calls provide even more additional functionality compared to landline solutions. For example, once a VoIP-based conference call begins, the participants will have access to various features, such as screen sharing, the mute button, meeting recording, and co-annotation. Only the host is allowed to end the meeting, while participants may leave at any time.

Types of Conference Calls

When we talk about what a conference call is, there are three types that come into mind: audio, video, and web conference. Knowing the difference between the three is important to learn how to utilize each tool for your conferencing needs.

Types of Conference Calls
How It Works
Audio Conference
Connects multiple users together to communicate via landline or any VoIP-based phone service.
It is a cost-effective conferencing tool since it only relies on telephone lines. It’s also very accessible and easy to set up.
This conferencing medium doesn’t support visual images, so it’s not advisable for meetings that require AVPs (audio-video presentations).
Video Conference
Participants join a shared virtual space through webcams to engage in a real-time, audio-visual call.
It curbs the lack of face-to-face interactions by allowing participants to see everyone else’s facial cues and body language.
Network instability is a common problem in video conferencing, which leads to blurry images and loss of visual cues.
Web Conference
Enables users to conduct a presentation or event online, while participants interact through screen sharing or whiteboards.
The sophisticated features of a web conference enable teams to share information while bringing an immersive experience.
The cost of web conferencing is a little expensive because it involves a suitable software provider, initial setup fee, and adequate training.

Conference Call Best Practices to Follow

Now that you know how conference calls work, let’s discuss the best practices to follow during a meeting. All these tips apply to audio and video conferencing, so remember which ones you’ll be doing with your team.

1. Test Equipment & Connection

Before setting up a conference call, make sure your phone system and internet connection are fully functioning. For hosts or presenters, important files and screen-sharing tools should be accessible. Check whether your webcam, speakers, and microphone are working properly and ensure your visual background is not too distracting.

2. Manage Background Noise

Choosing the place to call in is an essential consideration when hosting or joining a conference call. If you’re calling from your home, children yelling or barking dogs are a potential source of distraction. Participants should practice putting themselves on mute if they’re not speaking or in a noisy environment.

3. Record the Meeting

Save everyone’s time from taking notes by recording your conference calls. It’s a convenient way to save meeting content, rewrite project details, or share with teammates who couldn’t make it. It will also serve as a record for future meetings or for verification of decisions.

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4. Invest in Appropriate Conference Call Software

When looking for a new conference call provider, choose the ones with a high uptime service level agreement (SLA) of at least 99.999%. This way, the chances of call dropping are almost zero. Additionally, look for providers that offer high definition (HD) voice in their packages to ensure optimal voice quality during conference calls.

5. Use the Right Collaboration Tools

Enhance your conference call experience by utilizing the tools offered by your service provider. Screen sharing is particularly useful if you’re using the platform for presentation or training purposes. If you want to keep track of the entire conversation, look for providers offering a live transcription feature to convert audio into a written text document. Other tools include co-annotation, whiteboard, in-meeting chat, and virtual background.

Top Conference Call Providers

The best conference call services provide businesses with impressive sound quality, a user-friendly interface, multiple collaboration features, and a secure platform. With so many conference call services on the market, it’s tough to choose which one suits your team’s needs. To help you decide, we provided the top four providers for small businesses based on cost, features, and ease of use.

RingCentral is among the best conference call services thanks to its comprehensive features, suitable for businesses looking to scale. Its audio and video conferencing capabilities enable users to hold instant meetings with access to various collaboration tools, such as document sharing, team messaging, and call recording. Plans start at $19.99 per user, per month for up to 20 users.

Nextiva ranks high on our list of the best business phone systems because of its powerful VoIP platform. By subscribing to the Professional plan, users have access to unlimited conference calls for up to 40 participants, while video conferencing allows up to 250 attendees. Since it comes with a mobile app, it works best with teams wanting to manage their communications from anywhere at any time.

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GoTo Connect is a unified communication software that lets users host video conferences and online meetings. For its audio conferencing features, Nextiva allows users to dial into meetings with numbers from over 30 countries. All plans include number porting, unlimited extensions, and call forwarding. It also offers collaboration capabilities such as screen sharing, remote desktop control, and drawing tools.

Zoom is the industry leader in the video conferencing market and ranks as the top provider in our list of the best free conference call services. Its free plan allows users to host unlimited group meetings for up to 100 participants with access to a wide variety of collaboration tools. These include meeting recording, co-annotation, screen sharing, and breakout rooms.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How much is the minimum cost of a conference call service?

Conference call fees are divided into two cost structures. Some offer pay-as-you-go plans, while others charge a flat monthly rate for unlimited use. With pay-as-you-go plans, rates typically range from 2 to 10 cents per minute for each participant on the call. Meanwhile, monthly plans range from $15 to $40 per user, per month. However, some providers will charge extra fees for additional features, such as transcripts and call recording.

Should I get a free or paid conference call service?

If you’re looking to save money or a budget-friendly way to communicate with your teams, getting a free conference call service is a practical choice. However, it’s important to note that they offer fewer features than paid services. Invest in a paid plan if you want to support more call participants with access to various collaboration features, such as call recording and co-annotation.

How do conference call services benefit remote workers?

Conference call services provide multiple benefits to remote workers, specifically in making communication more accessible within a company. Even if everyone is geographically distributed, a good conferencing call service makes it easy to connect all employees without being in the same location at the same time.

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Bottom Line

A conference call is an audio teleconference or an online video meeting that allows several individuals to speak from anywhere in the globe at the same time. As we transition to online environments, it is essential to use conference calls to interact with our colleagues and enable collaborative work experiences. To make your conference call meetings more effective and productive, seek for providers who give tools and services that facilitate team collaboration.

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