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Audio conferencing supports telephone conversations among three or more participants. This may be accomplished using a conference feature in a telephone (usually with three participants), or, using a conference bridge service allowing many more participants. Some conference rooms use a speakerphone to allow conferencing with both live and remote workers.

Audio conferencing allows teleworkers to work in real time with multiple people, such as a project team or clients. This readily available technology works whenever there are multiple people that need to be included in an audio call, either as participants, or, as listeners to a limited number of presenters. Or, when a video/web conference is hosting a visual presentation, but the hosts want to use a conference bridge for the audio element.

Teleworkers in the pilot project reported a couple of problems that occurred when audio conferencing with a project team:

  • Poor sound quality/difficult to hear
  • Difficulty establishing a connection, resulting in the teleworker missing the first part of the meeting.

In the long run, these situations may be more costly for the organization than investing in a better quality system or service.

Service providers include those offering conferences 'on demand' where a host can set up an ad hoc call (using toll-free number and PIN). Bridge services can offer hosted calls, where participants use a moderator to include or announce participants or presenters.

Audio conference is quick and easy to set up and use. By using a 3rd party service, no special equipment is required. Here are a few tips to improve the experience:

  • Notify participants well in advance of the call and send a reminder the day of the call
  • The call's host should establish the call a few minutes before the appointed time to welcome participants as they join.
  • Participants should announce themselves prior to making a comment until all are completely familiar with each voice.
  • Conference call participants who are in a meeting room with a speakerphone should avoid distracting noises (e.g., shuffling papers), speak loudly and clearly, and avoid side conversations.
  • Distribute handouts electronically prior to meeting time.
  • Calls with too many participants may become chaotic or confusing, unless the majority are limited to listen-only mode.
  • Quieter participants may less likely to engage, unless prompted specifically.
  • Participants should avoid multitasking (such as checking their email) during conference calls.
  • Headsets ensure presenters or participants can engage more easily.

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This page was last updated on May 6, 2009