The benefits of conference calling are enjoyed by more businesses today than ever before. Particularly during recent months as the world has faced the coronavirus, businesses have survived in part because of audio and video conferencing.
Conference calling saves businesses time and money by allowing people to meet from various locations. Team collaboration is improved and customer service is enhanced through these relatively new technologies.
How do you know which form of conferencing is the best for your meeting? Should you schedule an audio call or a video chat? In this post, we’ll help you make an informed decision.
What is Audio Conferencing?
Also known as teleconferencing, audio conferencing enables participants to communicate using telephones and/or audio equipment. Communication between multiple users can happen via telephones, mobile phones, speakerphones, or computers.
An audio conference is an easy way to connect with a group. All that’s required is a working phone or network connection. Simply dial the number, enter your unique PIN, and you’ve joined the call.
What is Video Conferencing?
A video conference integrates video with the audio to create what is called a virtual meeting. From any location with an internet connection, participants can join from any device with audio and video capabilities. Users can join the audio by phone and video from a separate device, if necessary.
Some video conferencing solutions allow for screen sharing. This makes your virtual meeting as effective as a face-to-face conference by enabling presentations and other visual interactions.
10 Things to Think About When Choosing Between Audio or Video Conferencing
Both audio and video conferencing have benefits, but sometimes one is a better choice than the other for your call. These tips will help you choose the best format for your conference call.
1. Number of Participants
There’s no way of getting around it – the higher the number of participants, the more effort is required for a smooth meeting. If you have an all-hands meeting with 50 people, for example, a video call could be too much. Do you really need to see all 50 faces? To keep things simple, an audio conference might be the best choice for calls with a high volume of participants.
2. Meeting Length
If you need a quick meeting to discuss one or two points, it might be easiest to have an audio conference. For longer meetings, video conferencing is a good choice because having the visual interaction helps to hold attention for longer.
3. Meeting Agenda or Topic
For some topics, it’s best to be face-to-face. Without visual cues, it can be easier to misunderstand each other. If your agenda or topic could be sensitive in nature, or if the risk of misunderstanding is high, a video conference may be the best choice.
Meetings often require sharing visual information. While documents, slide presentations, photos, and other data can be sent in advance of an audio conference, a video conference simplifies this process by allowing you to share visuals in real-time. You can be sure everyone is looking at the same thing at the same time for clearer communication.
Both audio and video conferences are impacted by the environment of the participants. It’s important to find a spot that’s not too noisy so you can hear everyone clearly.
An advantage of a video conference is the ability to read body language and non-verbal cues, but it also requires a lot more effort to ensure your surroundings are not distracting and that you have adequate lighting.
Audio conferencing, on the other hand, can happen anywhere regardless of light, location, or what you’re wearing.
6. Required Tools
Audio conferencing requires nothing more than a phone. Video conferencing needs more – a device with a camera and microphone. When choosing between audio and video conferencing, keep in mind the accessibility not only for yourself but for the rest of the participants.
7. Network Connection
Video conferencing requires a strong high-speed internet connection to transmit both audio and video data (especially when you add screen sharing to the mix). If the call participants have unreliable internet service, or if you find the call becomes “choppy”, an audio conference might be a better choice.
What needs to happen during your conference? A conversation-only meeting can happen effectively via audio conferencing. But video conferencing allows for some additional functionality:
- Screen sharing
- File sharing
- Instant messaging and chat
- Easy visual recognition of who is talking
Audio conferencing is a great choice for limited budgets. Everyone has access to a phone, so no additional equipment is required. In many cases, audio conferencing is included with your hosted phone service plan. And if you choose to upgrade your audio conferencing equipment, it’s affordable.
Video conferencing requires more hardware and a better quality internet connection. This can make it a more costly option.
10. Ease of Use
Most people are familiar with audio conferencing. It’s effortless to join an audio conference simply by dialing the meeting number or accepting the call. The simplicity of audio conferencing also makes it a great choice for holding a spontaneous meeting. No setup or additional preparation is necessary to invite other participants.
Video conferencing can take a little more effort to host and/or join, though it’s worthwhile when you need or want the extra functionality.
Choose the Best Application for Your Conference Call
Both audio conferencing and video conferencing have their own pros and cons. Before scheduling a meeting, take into consideration the purpose of the call, the participants, and the other factors we’ve covered in this post.
Between the two, audio and video conferencing provide an optimal alternative to in-person meetings and serve as valuable tools for business collaboration. Careful consideration of the best solution for your conference call will improve the productivity and efficiency of your meetings.