Teleconference - Teleconferencing Services - Join or Host Meetings Anytime, Anywhere
Staying connected with your team is essential to making sure they are performing effectively, especially when they’re working from home. If you can’t do face-to-face meetings, you can try hosting a teleconference instead.
But what is a teleconference meeting?
A teleconference is a virtual meeting between two or more participants, usually conducted through either an audio or video call. It’s a simple but effective way of communicating with your team even when you’re all out of the office.
Traditionally, teleconferences were done through conventional telephone lines and were limited to audio. However, they have since evolved to include more features such as VoIP and video.
Although landline teleconferences are still around, conducting meetings online or using VoIP is more preferred by businesses nowadays. As such, we will be focusing primarily on contemporary, online-based teleconferences.
Want to know more about how teleconferencing can help your business? Read on to find out about its advantages, which conference type is the best for your team, and how to start a teleconference yourself.
Types of Teleconference
There are many types of teleconferencing services, but they can be categorized into two main groups: audio-only or video-supported. Both types have their own pros and cons. Let’s look at the differences between them to help you determine which one is more appropriate for your team.
Audio teleconferences, commonly known as conference calls, are just like normal telephone calls, except there are multiple participants dialed in.
Is there a limit to how many can join a meeting? Yes, but most VoIP conferencing services can still support hundreds of participants at a time. Even most landline teleconferences can support up to a hundred, so it’s unlikely that the limit will pose an issue.
One advantage of an audio teleconference is that you can participate without an internet connection. Even if you’re using a traditional landline phone system, you’ll still be able to join or host conference calls.
Thanks to this, you can join the conference from almost any device that supports telephony. So you can dial in from your landline, mobile phone, or even your computer. This flexibility is perfect for teams that are frequently mobile and on-the-go.
With video conferencing, you’ll have a live video image feed of the other participants, making it feel more like a face-to-face live meeting than a phone call. You also have access to more collaboration tools.
For example, you can use screen sharing to easily illustrate points without having to send files. Video teleconferencing is preferable for meetings that require visual aids like seminars and presentations.
Most conferencing services can support more than 100 people in a session, so it’s a good choice for both large or small teams.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Teleconferencing
More and more companies are starting to appreciate teleconferencing, and it’s not hard to see why. Although it does come with some disadvantages, it’s obvious that the good far outweighs the bad. Let’s look at the benefits of virtual conferencing, as well as some challenges you might encounter and how to deal with them.
Advantages of teleconferences
- Cost effective - Teleconferences can help reduce the transportation costs of your team because they don’t have to attend in person. You’ll also save on additional utility bills like venue rentals, electricity, water, and even food since you’re not hosting the meeting on-site.
- Time saving - No need to schedule conferences weeks in advance and spend days on preparations. Just send an email invite and dial-in on your set time.
- Easy collaboration - For online and video teleconferences, you have collaboration tools like screen sharing and file transfer, making it easier to communicate ideas and get your entire team on the same page.
- Efficient record-taking - You can record your sessions with video or call recording feature, allowing you to review the conference without having to manually take notes.
- Mobile and Flexible - Virtual teleconferencing is supported in a wide range of devices. You can host or join a call from your phone, tablet, or computer anytime, anywhere.
Disadvantages of teleconferences
- Might encounter technical issues - Technical issues are a common problem with teleconferences, but they are usually minor inconveniences. Problems with audio and video quality can be solved with good equipment and a stable internet connection.
- Difficult to monitor - Making sure your attendees are present and being attentive can be challenging in virtual conferences. A tip to avoid this is to have a roll-call before starting or to take note of who has dialed in. For video conferences, you can also request attendees to not turn their videos off.
- Impersonal - A teleconference can feel a bit impersonal since you can’t see or hear everyone like you would in a physical meeting. But, as long as speakers can communicate ideas clearly then this should not prevent a teleconference from being a success.
How does a teleconference work?
Teleconferencing is not complicated at all. Here are some basic things you’ll need to get started with teleconferences, as well as the steps on how to host and join a conference call.
How do you set up a teleconference?
To get started, you just need to make sure that you have the following requirements ready:
For audio conferencing, there are three access numbers you need to enter a session:
- A dial-in number - this is the telephone number that you’ll need to dial on your phone to join a conference call.
- An access code - this is a unique seven-digit alpha-numeric code that you’ll need to input to join the session.
- A PIN code - Not all conferencing services have these. Some also refer to access codes as PIN code. But usually, the PIN code is entered by the host to use moderator tools like call recording, muting, etc.
Typically, the host will send an email invitation with these codes included as links. If you’re working with analog or IP phones, you’ll have to input these manually. But if you’re calling from a PC or mobile device, all you need to do is click on the codes to take you to the virtual room.
What about video conferences? You need the meeting ID or URL, instead. These are also usually indicated in the invitation email that the host will send out. Just click them or input them manually on your conference app or browser.
A stable connection is necessary to ensure that your teleconference runs smoothly. Audio conferences tend to have consistently good quality since they require less bandwidth to transmit data.
For online meetings, having high-speed internet with minimal interference is essential as it can affect both the audio and video quality of your session. Video conferencing, in particular, is very demanding on internet resources, so make sure your connection is good enough to support it.
If you’re opting for an audio conference, make sure that your phones and conference bridges have good sound quality. It’s worth looking into devices that have noise-canceling features to ensure that your audio is clear.
For video conferencing, you’ll need a high-quality webcam and microphone. Laptops already have these built-in so there’s no need to buy it separately. That said, it won’t hurt to use more good tools to make your conference experience as seamless as possible.
Hosting a teleconference
Once you have your access numbers and equipment set up, it’s time to start conference calling. Here are some general steps you can follow if you will be the one hosting the call.
STEP 1. Set a schedule
From your conferencing app, you can create a future teleconference by clicking on the Schedule Meeting button. Choose a convenient time for the session and list the people who will be joining. Once you’ve filled in and saved the details, you can send an invite to your list of attendees.
STEP 2. Distribute access codes to your attendees
Usually, the invites will have the codes for the conference. All the attendees need to do is click on them. But if you missed some people or you can’t use email to invite them, just give them the meeting ID or dial-in number and access code via SMS or team chat so they can enter manually.
STEP 3. Enter the session on the scheduled time
If you’re the host, it’s good practice to be on the call before the attendees dial in. For audio conferences, just call the dial-in number and enter your host code when prompted. For video conferences, click the meeting ID or URL to go directly into the virtual conference room.
Joining a teleconference
If you’re just an attendee, you’re in luck because it’s a lot easier than being a host. Unsure about how to join a teleconference as an attendee? Here is a quick rundown of what you should do.
STEP 1. Wait for the meeting details
You can’t access a teleconference without the details. As mentioned above, the host will send an invite with the dial-in number, access code, or meeting ID. Take note of the information so you can input them when it’s time to enter the conference.
STEP 2. Join the call with your preferred method
You have several options to choose from when dialing-in to a teleconference. Prefer to be on the go? Join the call from your mobile phone. Want to use all the collaboration tools? Join from your conferencing service’s dedicated app instead.
STEP 2.1 Joining from your phone
Join from your phone by calling the dial-in number with the telephone conferencing app. Enter the access code when prompted. If you’re joining a video conference, just click on the meeting ID and it will take you to the virtual room at once.
STEP 2.2 Joining from a desktop app
Download your provider’s desktop app and login with your account details. Click on the dial-in number or meeting ID that can be found in the email invite to enter the meeting. Input any additional passcodes required if necessary.
STEP 2.3 Joining from a browser
Some services also allow people to join video conferences without signing up for an account. If they have the meeting ID, they can go to the teleconference provider’s website and enter it in the Join Meeting input box. They can start web conferencing directly from the browser.
How can I get free teleconference?
There are many free services available if you’re on a budget. But it’s really worth investing in high-quality technology solutions rather than settling for the bare minimum. Teleconference calling has some great advantages that will definitely benefit your business, so it’s going to be worth every penny.