pros and cons of conference calls

Conference calls are an important collaboration tool for businesses today, bringing together both internal and external stakeholders for large-scale scheduled meetings or for quick, ad hoc conversations to brainstorm new ideas or hash out an existing problem.

However, different teams and even different individuals within your teams have unique ways that they prefer to work with others; their “collaboration style,” if you will. When evaluating a collaboration solution for your company, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of particular methods in order to ensure you’re offering the right tools to the right people.

Let’s take a look at some common pros and cons of conference calls:

Pros of Conference Calls

Simplicity: In terms of ease of use, one of the primary benefits of conference calling is that it leverages technology that everyone already has and is familiar with: the phone. While other online collaboration tools such as virtual meeting software have developed intuitive interfaces and access methods, it’s still an additional layer of technology that can be confusing or fail. Joining a conference call is as simple as entering a phone number, or even having the conference dial out to a phone of your choice.

Mobility: Conference calls are inherently mobile because anyone can join from their smartphone, either through a dedicated mobile app or by simply dialing the conference line directly. While the majority of collaboration solutions now feature a mobile component, audio conferencing is perfectly designed for mobile meeters and on-the-go workers.

Calendar Integrations: Scheduling conference calls is relatively painless thanks to integration with systems like Microsoft Outlook, allowing for quick invite creation with all of the relevant dial-in numbers and passcodes. You can even utilize a smart calendar app which will scrub your calendar for this information and automatically connect you to an audio conference with a single click.

Cons of Conference Calls

Missed Messages: While the number can vary, it’s been said that up to 93% of communication is non-verbal: body language, eye and head movement, etc. Without the added visual component of web or video conferencing, you’re potentially missing out on vital non-verbal cues that can tell you what a customer or prospect is really thinking.

Caller Confusion: Without a visual component, it can often be confusing in an audio conference to identify who is on the call and who is speaking when. This also leads to a lot of “stepping on toes” as different callers end up talking over one another.

Lack of content sharing: While you can always email a document around before a conference call and talk through it, it lacks the intuitiveness of screensharing a document in a web conference. With screenshare, you always know everyone is on the same page.

The Verdict

It’s likely that neither the pros nor the cons of conference calls are enough to make or break them as a business collaboration tool for your organization. Rather, it’s important to be mindful of the benefits and limitations of any collaboration method you employ so that you can utilize the right solution for the right team, meeting or situation.