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The advantages and disadvantages of conference calls: A summary

Despite having found their place in most people’s everyday work life, the advantages and disadvantages of conference calls remain a sometimes contentious topic. As technology has developed and different types of teleconferencing emerge, the debate gets more complicated. Add the increasing number of alternative affordable communication tools, and it can be difficult to figure out which channel is best for a given situation. To try and clarify things a little, we’re looking at the key advantages and disadvantages of conference calls.

 Advantages

1) Money-saving is a decisive factor in parsing the advantages and disadvantages of conference calls

It would be difficult to think of any enterprise which wouldn’t be cheered by the thought of saving some money. The most successful and profitable businesses can always find something to do with some extra give in their budget. Even organisations which aren’t run for profit like charities can gain a lot and save a lot by conference calling.

There are actually lots of costs which teleconferencing can slash. To begin with, you’re saving commuting costs for all the participants who would have to travel to the meeting. You could also save a bundle on renting out an appropriate meeting space – although there are some great free meeting locations.

There are also all the small, easily overlooked costs that go along with hosting a meeting. Things like providing refreshments or printing materials can quickly build to a significant chunk of the budget by the end of the year. Plus, even something like using electricity to light the room comes at a cost, and every penny counts!

 

2) Conference calls can be totally free

And because there are genuinely free conference call services, you’re not just reducing these expenses. They’re removed entirely! So if budget is a big factor as you weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of conference calls, make sure you research free teleconference providers. Many claim to be free, but end up having unexpected fees. Take a glance over WHYPAY?’s Trustpilot reviews, though, and you’ll know that’s not the case here.

WHYPAY? provides teleconferencing rooms which are accessed by dialing 03 numbers. Thanks to Ofcom rulings, calls to any 03 number must be included within callers’ bundled minutes. That means joining WHYPAY? conference calls doesn’t cost a penny. And because there are no fees or charges for being a member, hosting a call, or any other part of WHYPAY?’s services, conference calling will never have to figure in your budget at all.

So when you’re weighing up the advantages and disadvantages of conference calls against other meeting solutions, bear in mind that it’s one of the few that will have absolutely no cost.

 

3) Save time by conference calling

Not only do you stand to save a lot of money (WHYPAY? users saved well over £1 million in April), you can also save lots of time. And if time is money, that’s even more back in your pocket!

Think about how long it can take to iron out the logistics of scheduling a meeting. It can take time to even find the right space, let alone waiting for it to be available. Difficulties often arise because not everybody can get there at the same time, meaning you have to schedule the meeting weeks or even months in the future.

But a conference call can be arranged really last minute if needs be. People tend to be near a phone anyway, so if they can carve out the necessary amount of time it doesn’t matter if they can’t physically get to you.

This means that in the debate regarding the advantages and disadvantages of conference calls, they’re definitely winning a point in crisis situations. If something suddenly goes wrong, or you need to make a fast decision, conference calling is probably your best bet. You can quickly get the necessary team on the line to discuss the matter at hand, and quickly, clearly, and unitedly find a solution.

Plus, eliminating your commute saves a ton of time as well as money. You and your colleagues will be much more productive by not being forced onto uncomfortable trains or spending hours in standstill traffic.

 

4) Telephones are extremely accessible, a crucial consideration in the advantages and disadvantages of conference calls

These days, you’d struggle to find somebody who can’t access a phone. And if accessibility features strongly as you weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of conference calls, you’ll want to choose your provider carefully. Look for a conference call bridge like WHYPAY?, which allows participants to dial in from normal landlines, conference call phones, mobiles or smartphones. That way, it doesn’t matter where your attendees are. They could be walking their dog, on the train, enjoying a piece of cake in a nice cafe, or even in a phone booth. You really don’t need any specialist equipment to use WHYPAY? conference calls.

And phones aren’t just everywhere, they’re also really easy to use. Given we’re wasting an average of 15 minutes at the start of every single audio meeting just waiting for everybody to manage to join, finding an easier option is a big win in the toss up of advantages and disadvantages of conference calls.

Other online collaboration tools do sometimes offer more features, but they can also be complicated and unreliable to use. People who are inexperienced with that particular software or programme might really struggle, delaying everybody and making the whole conference call feel like a big waste of time.

With WHYPAY?, it’s as simple as dialing the access number as you would any phone number. Then simply enter the conference room number and secure PIN, and you’re in! Getting talking is quick, easy and free for everyone.

 

5) Conference calls allow direct communication

There are some really useful and affordable collaboration tools available, like Slack, LivePerson and Asana. But sometimes, typing won’t cut it. There are things which it’s quicker and easier to express vocally. Signals can get crossed and messages literally and figuratively missed in lengthy IM conversations and endless email chains. Picking up the phone can cut through the nonsense and get people to work, making the whole team more efficient and ensuring everybody fully understand their role.

Plus, conference calls often facilitate a higher attendance. Not only does availability become less of an issue if travelling to the meeting isn’t necessary, but few meeting rooms can hold 100 participants, whereas WHYPAY?’s free conference call rooms can. That means more people can hear information first-hand, rather than relying on it being relayed later. Again, you can find this hugely beneficial in saving time and confusion for all.

 

6) Collaboration and cooperation are powerful business tools and vital factors in the advantages and disadvantages of conference calls

Making sure your team works well together and has strong communication is one of the surest ways of guaranteeing success. We all know the perils of the right hand not knowing what the left is doing: chaos can ensue. Conference calls offer a convenient and cheap way to keep everybody in touch and on-task.

Plus, using WHYPAY? you can schedule recurring calls for as often as is appropriate. Because the conference call rooms can be used for as long as you like and as often as you like, you can talk endlessly with total peace of mind. You can also create multiple teleconferencing rooms for different purposes, projects and groups. And given how easily you can schedule conference calls in your calendar software, people won’t even need to depend on routine or memory to remember to dial in. They might seem like small details, but these are important points in considering the advantages and disadvantages of conference calls.

And not only do conference calls improve internal communication, they also facilitate collaboration outside of your organisation. Because of their mobility and accessibility, you can use conference calls to find investors, partners, mentors, or whatever you might need, anywhere in the world. Which leads to the seventh point in our list of advantages and disadvantages of conference calls.

 

7) You can cast a much wider net

Taking geographical proximity out of the equation means you can appeal to a far greater number of stakeholders and stand to funnel much more investment into your organisation. It’s pretty intuitive maths to think that reaching a wider audience and increasing the number of potential partnerships makes successful alliances and investments more likely.

But you can also widen your net as you search for employees. Conference call interviews are a great way of speaking with candidates from further afield without either of you having to travel. You’ll be able to really find the creme de la creme, and employ the person who will be the best fit.

Even after the interview stage, your successful candidate needn’t be willing to relocate… Bringing us to conference calls’ eighth advantage.

 

8) Flexible working figures crucially in the advantages and disadvantages of conference calls

More and more organisations are awakening to the benefits of flexibility in attitudes to work and attendance. This can take all sorts of forms, from 6-hour working days to less formal shifts, working entirely from home or just having a few days of each week or month dedicated to remote work. You can even take a less structured approach than this, and simply consider allowing employees to work remotely if their circumstances on a particular day (or longer) require it. Although some people think they can’t work remotely, many studies find that flexible work almost always boosts productivity. Plus, it creates a healthier work-life balance. Happier employees are almost always better employees, so everybody wins!

And remote working wouldn’t be a viable possibility without teleconferencing. They’re a vital way of ensuring remote workers feel informed and included, and allow for regular check-ins and hand-offs.

What’s more, remote working is just another way that conference calling can save money. Not only could you save costs on occasionally renting meeting spaces, but you could do away with paying rent altogether. If you’re not ready to go 100% remote, you could also consider options like hot-desking or making use of free meeting locations.

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Disadvantages

1) Technical difficulties

Studies like the survey carried out by Sapio Research find that technical issues are one of the biggest time wasters in teleconferencing. People encounter difficulty joining the call, or often find problems arise in terms of audio and visual quality, or people suddenly losing connection.

Of course, being unable to make out what somebody is saying because of a crackly line gives face-to-face meetings a bit of an edge in the battle between the advantages and disadvantages of conference calls. Likewise, it’s understandable that people might lose focus or give up if they keep having to re-join the call. Not to mention how distracting and frustrating this can be for other attendees – particularly if you keep having to recap the same material.

But again, these issues are quite straightforwardly avoidable. Look back over the hundreds of reviews on Trustpilot, and you’ll get a feel of how reliable WHYPAY?’s conference calls are. Plus, given how easy it is to use, you’re unlikely to ever face technical difficulties conferencing with WHYPAY?.

 

2) No matter the inherent advantages and disadvantages of conference calls, some participants can always be inept

This ties back in to ideas about technical difficulties, but shifts the focus to individuals’ lack of skills and experience rather than failures on the service provider’s part. At the end of the day, no matter how great telecommunications might be, and all the amazing developments and innovations happening, there will always be people who simply can’t keep up. Technophobes are all around us, and as you’ve probably experienced, their ineptitude can prove disruptive for the whole group.

As you compare the advantages and disadvantages of conference calls with those of other communication tools, this one might not help much to make a decision. After all, somebody who struggles with teleconferencing probably won’t find any kind of instant messaging application easier to use. But it does give physical meetings a point. They eliminate the need for any tech-savvy whatsoever.

Still, as we said earlier, there aren’t many among us who can’t use a standard phone. They have existed for well over a hundred years, so it’s not exactly new technology. Choose a conference call bridge like WHYPAY? and even the biggest technophobe out there will be able to dial in without a hitch.

 

3) Some people think conference calls are a waste of time

Ultimately, whether this is true or not isn’t exactly the point. Though for the record we definitely don’t think conference calls are a waste of time, as long as you know how to use them. The issue is that if people approach with a negative attitude, it can have a detrimental impact on the whole meeting. Attendees can feel disgruntled and resentful before the meeting has even begun, simply because of their prejudices against the mode of communication. That can make them less willing to get involved, and mean they’re likelier to become distracted.

To dispel these beliefs, you just need to follow some simple tips on ensuring conference calls don’t waste time. With helpful guides like these, you’ll convert even the biggest teleconferencing cynic.

 

4) You might find a few individuals dominate the discussion

Conference calls can exacerbate the tendency for one or two people to take the lead in the meeting. The problem with this is that just because they’re louder or more confident doesn’t mean they actually have more to contribute, or that their ideas are more valuable. Sometimes the quietest, most reserved person has the most to say. And sometimes, conference calls reduce their opportunity to do so.

The reason audio meetings can worsen the problem is quite straightforward. When somebody has an idea or wants to speak, it’s usually visibly apparent. Whether they unconsciously open their mouth or lean forward, or purposely raise their hand or make some other gesture, people tend to have a way of making their intention known without speaking. Take out the visual component of face-to-face meetings or video calls, and these signals disappear.

There are ways around this, though. Like in any business meeting, planning is important. Draw up a detailed agenda which lays out what topics will be covered, and who will be speaking about each. If you circulate the plan to participants, everybody will know exactly what they will contribute and when. That way, it becomes much more difficult for a few people to do all the talking. Another important thing to do to become the best possible conference call host is familiarise yourself with non-verbal cues…

 

5) An important consideration in the advantages and disadvantages of conference calls is the importance of body language

Communication is what makes conference calls such a powerful tool. Yet body language makes up a huge part of how we communicate. This can be a significant disadvantage of audio meetings, as we miss out on so much of what participants might be trying to tell us.

But all hope is not lost. We actually can pick up on a lot of non-verbal communication over the phone. Think about the noticeable change in someone’s speech when they’re smiling, or how significant stuttering and fillers can be. With a little practice and attention, you can really learn to understand non-verbal cues and become a conference call guru.

 

6) Teleconferencing can feel impersonal

Some conference callers miss the human interactions that happen before and after meetings, as well as non-verbal in the duration. There are those who feel that teleconferences are overly formal and rigid. Some people feel uncomfortable because of the anonymity of the call, too. After all, we’re often teleconferencing with people we’ve never met. And while this links to some of the key strengths of conference calls in their ability to join people across the globe, it can also make participants feel a little less relaxed.

As with most things, though, this is a simple case of practice and planning. There’s a lot of advice available for how to plan the perfect conference call. And while a detailed agenda and focused objectives are crucial, interpersonal considerations count, too. That’s why knowing how to break the ice – particularly amongst strangers – is an important part of being a good teleconference host.

 

7) Inability to easily share content

One aspect of conference calling which gives points to both higher- and lower-tech alternatives is content-sharing. If you hold a face-to-face meeting, it’s generally pretty easy to pass around printed documents or have them presented on a screen. And if you go for a pricier web conferencing option, you can often find document sharing or screen sharing as available features. But speaking over the phone makes it harder to go through reports or graphs in real-time.

Still, given the much higher costs involved for both physical meetings and paid web conferencing solutions, it might be worth sticking to teleconferences. It’s not so difficult to simply email material ahead of time along with the agenda. By taking simple steps like numbering pages, labelling graphs and following the order, it should be really easy for all participants to understand what’s going on.

 

The verdict

We don’t want to take up position too comfortably on the fence as we weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of conference calls. It’s certainly true that different situations have different requirements. Sometimes you might think meeting face to face really is necessary, or that a particular meeting merits shelling out some extra pounds for fancy web conferencing platforms. But for the most part, the drawbacks of conference calls are entirely and easily surmountable.

The best advice is to think carefully about the objectives of your meeting, who needs to attend, and what’s most convenient for them. If an audio meeting will prove too distracting or lacking in document-sharing capabilities, by all means take a different route. After all, people will be more willing and able to contribute if they’re clear and happy. But equally, often conference calls are much more convenient for everybody. They eliminate the time and money spent on travel, and therefore make much fewer demands on your participants than a meeting would. Generally, this means they’ll have more energy and good-will to put into hard work and brilliant ideas during the meeting.

Given conference calling with WHYPAY? is totally free, you might as well try it out! You really have nothing to lose, and an awful lot to gain. To get started, generate a free conference call room by clicking on the button below or visiting the WHYPAY? homepage.

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