Audio Conferencing Tips and Etiquette

by : Reggie Andersen

Audio conferencing refers to any situation in which multiple parties are permitted to listen into or participate in the audio portion of a phone call. These can be designed in two ways. Either the person organizing the call phones the other participants and adds them into the call, or the participants call into the conference themselves.

This is done by dialing in to a specialized kind of equipment called a conference bridge, or by using a phone number set up specifically for the purpose. Because most companies don't own conference call equipment themselves, they use a service provider to arrange their conference calls. These providers maintain the conference bridge, as well as providing any phone numbers needed for access to the conference call.

Businesses use conference calls on a daily basis for remote meetings. These can be either internal to the company, or with parties outside the business. It's common to use audio conferencing for meetings with clients, sales presentations, updates, project meetings, and training. Conference calling has the power to reduce the cost and frequency of travel, and permits workers to stay in the office for meetings.

Audio conferencing is also being used increasingly more often in conjunction with web conferencing. This allows a video or multimedia aspect to be added to the meeting. In cases where audio conferencing is being used to assist with presentations, this can be very valuable. Conference calls have also been used with podcasts and social networking. This may seem like it's outside the realm of business, but many companies are now using these kinds of functionality as marketing strategies.

If you're interested in using audio conferencing in your business, here are a few tips to help you succeed:

- Make sure that you understand the functionality that you'll need for your particular call. Conference call service providers offer lots of options, like call recording, tracking the people who've been involved in the call, and multimedia services. You'll need to arrange for all the appropriate features your call will require in advance.

- Organization is key. Be certain that your audience knows when the call is going to happen, where to dial in, and has a reasonable idea what you're planning to address. Nothing bogs down a meeting or presentation like disorganization.

- Use conference calling the smart way. Audio conferencing has the power to save you time and money, while increasing productivity, by bringing distant offices together while minimizing travel. Plan your calls so that you'll be able to get the maximum benefit out of these advantages.

- Avoid using mobile phones for audio conferencing. Their signals and sound quality aren't reliable enough, and can cause problems for everyone. You should be able to hear and speak clearly on any phone you use.

- Conduct a roll call. This makes sure that everyone is present before you begin.

- Remind participants in your conference call to identify themselves before speaking. On the phone, it can be hard to identify the speaker by voice alone, and there are no visual cues to help. Saying who's speaking avoids confusion.