Video calling has become very popular in the last year or so – the technology and available broadband speeds have improved immeasurably in recent years and remote conferencing became the only way to keep in touch with clients and colleagues during lockdown.
Video calling isn’t without its flaws though – as anyone who has had connection issues will attest to (not to mention Microsoft’s insistence on moving everything around when it updates Teams). Sometimes, simply picking up the phone is the best option.
So, which is best – a conference call or a video call?
What type of meeting are you having?
If you’re wondering whether you should pick up the phone or pop open the laptop for a meeting, it’s probably worth considering how long the meeting is going to last and what the purpose of it is.
The stand-up meeting
Let’s say you’re hosting a stand-up meeting – one of those quick, early morning meetings to set out plans and energise staff for the day ahead. Obviously, face-to-face is the best option for this type of meeting, but what if that’s not possible?
This type of meeting gives everyone a break from their screens and usually involves a round-robin element whereby each member of the team chips in with what they’re doing and what they need from everyone else. In this instance, a video call doesn’t offer any break from screen time and may even slow things down – it takes time to prepare ourselves and our surrounding for a video call, and getting everyone up and running can be a chore.
A conference call, on the other hand, does give everyone a break from their screens. And the round-robin nature of the stand up is ideal for audio conferencing as each participant is introduced, so there’s no awkward silences or stilted conversation. For more info, check out our blog Top tips for conference call etiquette.
The strategy meeting
Strategy meetings are a tricky one if you can’t get everyone in the same room. While a conference call is great for stand ups, strategy meetings often require more off-the-cuff engagement and may even need visuals. While a both conference and video calls can be as stilted if participants aren’t used to them, video calls get the nod in this instance simply because of their screen sharing capabilities.
But don’t completely write off conference calling, as we’ve teamed up with CrankWheel to offer a screen-sharing solution. Find out more at our blog Now you can screen share on conference calls. We’ve also teamed up with Livestorm so you can easily host webinars.
The one-to-one meeting is often held between line managers and staff. They’re designed as a quick catch-up where both can ask questions and track progress. The nature of these meetings mean that any medium works just as well as another. As a line manager, the key here is to find out which works best for your employee – the more relaxed they are, the more open they’ll be.
If they’re the sort of person that instantly switches off their camera on a video call, it’s probably best to just pick up the phone instead.
How well do people know the tech?
Although most video conferencing software is relatively easy to use, if you work with people who have trouble opening their laptop then a video conference can be a disaster waiting to happen.
Then there’s the issue of installing the software on everyone’s machine and paying the subscription fee for the amount of users you need. It’s also reliant on everyone having a reliable internet connection.
A conference call, on the other hand, just needs a good, old-fashioned landline and there are no sign-up or reservation fees when you use ConferenceCall.co.uk. As an aside, that good, old-fashioned landline will have to be digital by 2025, find out why in our blog The landline is dead. Long live the landline.
Conference call or video call?
It’s a tough one to call, as each platform has its pros and cons, but given the tech-constraints and people’s wobbly WiFi, it’s much simpler to pick up the phone. Using ConferenceCall.co.uk means you can add up to 100 participant on a single call, using nothing more than a landline or mobile. There are no set up fees and no subscriptions to pay.
How to make a conference call
You can set up a conference call in three simple steps with ConferenceCall.co.uk:
- Set up your Conference call – Choose a date/time of your conference call.
- Invite participants to the call – Send all participants an invitation with your PIN, date/time and dial-in number(s).
- Start your call – At the agreed time, all participants dial in and enter your PIN to join your conference call.