A teleconference call is a meeting method used in business when all, or some, of the meeting participants are in different physical locations. Each participant in a teleconference call will likely be asked to dial in to a central location, either on a pre-set, toll-free conference phone number, or just to a number within the business. This type of teleconference meeting is becoming more and more common now that telecommuting is a popular practice, as well as among businesses with various nationwide or international locations.
There is a lot of flexibility associated with a teleconference call. For instance, each participant in the call my remain at his or her own desk without needing to spend the day in a conference room. In addition, the call can be planned based around everyone's schedule, though this may be slightly more complicated if meeting participants live in different time zones.
Generally, a conference call like this takes place over the phone, without any face-to-face time, but some businesses may have webcams or meeting software installed on their employees' computers. This may allow some face-to-face communication, or at least allow everyone to view the same screen on the computer. In general, a teleconference meeting will simply begin when everyone has called in. There will generally be a leader of the call who arrives before everyone else, and who may assist in making introductions as others arrive.
The leader will then generally manage the teleconference call, bringing up individual talking points and issues that need to be discussed. He or she should also encourage everyone to talk, and ask questions if anyone seems silent or appears to be distracted from the call; i.e., checking email. If the teleconference call lasts more than an hour or two, it is the leader who should state that there will be a brief break from the call for people to visit the restroom or get a beverage.
Though some consider a teleconference call to be less effective and accomplish less than a traditional meeting, there is no doubt that it is less expensive and more convenient for businesses. If the teleconference calls are kept relatively small, and everyone is able to be engaged and interested in the call, they can accomplish quite a lot. It might be helpful to have a planned structure, with different speakers and presenters throughout the call to avoid boredom, as well as to have everyone announce their name before they begin speaking to prevent confusion, which can cause people to lose interest.