Dial-in Conference Calls are Useless. Except in 2 Cases

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Today, video conferencing is the most popular way to conduct meetings for remote teams and other groups of people in different locations. For the most part, this has rendered dial-in conference calls unnecessary—but there are still two scenarios in which this meeting method can be useful.

With dial-in conferencing, a pre-assigned Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone number serves as a private line for the group. Participants use a unique access code to join the call by “dialing in” when it’s time for a meeting, meaning there’s no need to merge calls or manually add callers into the conversation.

Times When Dial-in Works Best

Video conferencing allows your team to feel a sense of togetherness while working remotely, and it also uses employee time efficiently because it doesn’t require people to drop everything and commute to a central location. 

That said, the technological requirements of getting a bunch of people in one video call requires everyone involved to have stable access to an internet network, which isn’t always the case. Similarly, just about every participant also needs to be available to appear in front of a camera, and that’s not always the case either. 

Thus, dial-in calling provides a bit more flexibility when time and network access are tight. At the same time, setting up a dial-in conference call is extremely easy and it’s definitely a skill that you’ll want to have in your toolbox if you ever run into the following scenarios:

1. An Emergency Meeting or Quick Announcement 

Imagine that you’re en route to work on a Friday morning with a 16-ounce cappuccino in hand when your business phone pings. It’s a message from one of your biggest clients indicating that a major tweak is urgently required on your team’s project for that client. 

Reading on, you discover that all of the changes are doable in a day, but only if you manage to blast out all of this new information to your team before everybody checks out for the weekend. 

For a sudden work emergency or announcement like this, a dial-in conference call is probably your best bet. More often than not, a sudden video meeting would require a touch more foresight or notice, as it requires everyone to be at their computers or someplace with reliable internet. If anybody is on a train or in a car, for example, joining a video call is not very appropriate or even feasible. 

When every second counts, therefore, a dial-in line offers an immediate and reliable connection. Your team members can access the meeting from anywhere using either the internet or a cellular signal. 

Lastly, you can even record the call in case someone doesn’t get the meeting notification in time or if you simply want everyone to have a copy for reference. Service providers such as Dialpad even provide automated, time-stamped call manuscripts that can be organized by topic and sentiment. 

2. When You Know Attendees Won’t Have Access to the Internet 

Without a reliable internet connection, you can’t engage in video conferencing. Thus, if your team members are mid-commute, running errands, or on a quick afternoon workout, they won’t be able to participate. 

However, thanks to a widespread network of cell towers, most folks have phone service throughout the day—and even if their cell service is patchy, most devices can seamlessly toggle between Wi-Fi-based calling and cellular networks. This makes conference calling possible without needing to transfer large amounts of video data. 

Dial-in conferencing is therefore a great choice for planned meetings outside of normal work hours. It’s also ideal for non-traditional teams that operate according to various schedules or perform work that isn’t computer-based. Since dial-in only requires a stable connection, you can get away with joining these conferences via cellular, VoIP, or even a good old landline. 

Get Dial-In Conferencing

If you rely on a VoIP provider like Nextiva or RingCentral for your business phone system, you already have access to dial-in conferencing features. Depending on your service plan, these allow you to host an unlimited number of dial-in calls for anywhere from 40 to 200 participants. 

Some of the best conference call services are baked into plans that range between $12 to $20 per user, per month. These give you access to far more features, including call recording and meeting transcriptions. With many services, you’ll also gain the ability to host larger meetings with as many as 1,000 participants. 

If you anticipate using dial-in only once in a blue moon, RingCentral offers a “free forever” test service. This allows you to gather as many as 100 participants as often as you like with no deadline that forces you into a paid plan. 

Smaller teams can also make use of WhatsApp, which gives you access to free audio or video conference calls for up to eight people. Of course, everyone on the call will need a reliable internet connection and access to the downloaded app on their device. 

Our Takeaway: Dial-In Isn’t Dead

Despite how popular video conferencing already is—and how much more accessible and lightweight the technology is becoming—dial-in conferencing still has its place when a network connection isn’t available, or when you need to disseminate information quickly. 

At the same time, dial-in conferencing is also included as a key feature of most business VoIP service plans, so it’s a good idea to keep it in your back pocket so you can whip it out whenever necessary.

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