A conference call is an audio call in which multiple participants all join the same call at the same time. Most commonly, people join conference calls by dialing a shared conference number on their phones. In recent years, the term conference call has also been used to describe group calls held by computer using software like Skype, UberConference, and other computer-based audio technologies. A conference call that includes real-time video of participants is called a video conference, and one that includes screen sharing or other real-time content sharing is known as a web conference.
How do conference calls work?
A conference call is a telephone call involving multiple participants. Also known as a teleconference, people invited to the meeting can join by dialing a number which will connect them to a conference bridge. These conference bridges act as virtual rooms that allow several people to host or join meetings.
Today, it’s more common to host conference calls online. But if you don’t have internet access, it is also possible to do it through a landline.
A conference call meeting is just like any other business meeting. The only difference is that it’s conducted through phones rather than in person. It’s an effective way to stay connected with your team without having to meet face-to-face.
Thinking of conducting a conference meeting through a call? We need to discuss what conference calls are and how they work first. Then, we’ll go over basic steps to help you set up your first meeting. Finally, we’ll look at some tips on how to behave professionally and impress others during your calls.
Let’s get right into it.
What do you need to start a teleconference?
The most important things you need to participate in a conference call are the following:
- Dial-in number
- Access code
- PIN code
You will need these numbers regardless of whether you’re holding your meeting online or through a landline. There are a couple of providers offering conference services that don’t require access or PIN codes, but most services have them for added security.
A dial-in number is the telephone number that participants will need to dial to enter a conference call. These numbers are given to you by your service provider. You can also purchase a dedicated dial-in number, a code directly tied to your personal account.
With a dedicated dial-in number, you won’t have to share conference lines—so there’s no need for you to make a reservation before hosting a meeting. This means you’ll be able to teleconference anytime.
Toll vs toll free numbers
Dial-in numbers are either toll or toll free. Participants are charged with call fees if they use a toll dial-in number. On the other hand, the host shoulders the call fees if the dial-in number is toll free.
Local vs international numbers
Participants can join conference calls from anywhere in the world. If you’re calling a local number, you only need the phone number itself and the access codes to enter the call. Take note whether the number is toll or toll-free to avoid any surprise charges to your bill.
If you’re calling internationally, you need to add a country code at the beginning of the number you’re dialing. Each country has a unique code, so make sure you know the one you need for your meeting. Usually, the country code is given along with the dial-in number, written in parenthesis.
Let’s take for example a number like this:
In addition to a dial-in number, you will also be provided with an access code to input when you join a teleconference. Access codes are usually seven symbols, and if you’re the host, you need to distribute the code to the meeting participants.
Sometimes, access codes are also called PIN codes and they serve the same purpose. But for most services, PIN codes are used by the host to start the conference. This also allows them to access special features like conference lock, recording, caller count, and more.