The question of how many participants to have in a conference call can be a tricky one to answer. With all of the different uses for conference calls, there are all kinds of different teleconferences happening. Each will have its own parameters. But there are some general guidelines which apply in almost all cases.
Another thing to consider is that conference calls have a maximum number of participants, set by the conference call provider. To learn more about how many participants you can and should have in a conference call, read on.
Conference calls are an extremely useful business tool, and are constantly becoming more and more simple to make the most of. Still, that doesn’t mean that teleconferencing is always completely straightforward, and there are often a lot of considerations that must be addressed before hosting a call. One important thing to consider is the amount of participants that will be in your voice conference. There can definitely be such a thing as too many people in a call – after all, we have all heard the damage too many cooks can do to a broth.
If you’re wondering how many participants to have on a conference call, remember less is more
Often, the more people you have, the more likely you are to have issues. If you look at simple probability, some reasons for this may become clear. For example, more participants means a bigger risk that at least one participant will have bad reception. They might keep dropping in and out of the call. That can be extremely distracting and disruptive not just for them, but for everybody in the conference.
Similarly, you’re increasing your chances that one of the people in the call will be in a busy, noisy environment. This creates a call during which it can be difficult for people to concentrate and communicate.
There may also be significantly more incidences of participants interrupting each other. People can be unsure of who is speaking. Others might feel too intimidated to make contributions (or simply not getting a long enough pause to do so!). Plus, it’s easier to lose track of the conversation. That’s why when figuring out how many participants to have in your conference call, it’s often wise to err on the side of caution.
Different conference calls require different participant numbers
Unfortunately, though, there is not a black and white number for how many participants to have on a conference call. No single piece of wisdom can ensure you avoid these issues, and others which can arise from going over an optimal maximum participants on your conference call. It isn’t as simple as one magical number which tips a call from just right to too many.
There are lots of different conditions which can vary how many people is excessive in a conference call.
Muting functions affect how many people can be on a conference call
The number of people who will be muted, simply listening rather than participating, can greatly impact on how many participants you should have on a conference call. Of course, if this is the case, one useful alternative to consider might be making use of a call recording function. That way, they don’t need to actually be in the call. They can simply get the recording of the conference after it takes place. They’ll then be able to listen to this at a time that is convenient for them. With this step, you can reduce how many people are on your conference call.
Your conference call structure will impact your maximum participants
Another feature which can make a big difference to the appropriate maximum number of participants is how structured your conference call will be.
If you have a very organised plan of how the discussion will go, accommodating more participants may be easier. You can decide who will need to contribute at which time.
If the call is supposed to be more of a free-for-all, open-discussion atmosphere, a large number of participants may not be ideal.
Are your participants experienced with conference calls?
Moreover, each participant’s experience of conference calling can be extremely important. If you have participants who know very little about conference call etiquette, you may be more likely to experience issues. This includes things like intrusive background noise, interruptions, or people not properly introducing themselves. It’s important that participants know the golden rules, no matter how many participants are in your conference call.
Planning is the key
Clearly, then, conference calling isn’t always entirely straightforward. Next time it’s your turn to organise a teleconference, make sure you plan ahead and think carefully when selecting your participants. Sometimes, it’s great to make use of services which offer a large number of participants at no extra cost. However, at other times it may be more sensible to seek out a conference call bridge which is free to use, and instead hold multiple different conference calls, rather than one with a large number of participants. Or you could always find a provider that offers you both of these things, plus unlimited duration on your conference calls and an unlimited number of times using each conference room.