What is a Conference Bridge?
Conference call participants use conference bridges to call into and join a conference call. Users can dial their phones into a virtual conference room and join several hundred or thousand others in the same call. Many phone systems have three-way calling, but this goes beyond that feature to allow you to set up conference calls with large numbers of participants.
- Conference Bridge—Hardware, software or phone number used to connect conference calls. Conference bridges can use a combination of different techniques to connect participants.
In this article, we will introduce the concept of conference bridges, talk about how they work, how they can help your business and how to begin using them. If you are unsure of whether or not these systems are right for you, this article may help you make your decision.
With a conference bridge, you can use hardware and software to create a great conference that can be accessed remotely by a larger number of participants. This greatly improves the conference call experience and can help you access additional features you might not normally expect. Conference bridging can bring advanced conference functionality within reach for small businesses, medium-sized businesses and solopreneurships. If your business meetings could use a boost, then conferencing functionality may be able to help.
You can get more done and offer more for your customers, clients, employees and colleagues. Conferencing capabilities allow you to offer classes, host larger meetings and improve your productivity. Without the hassle of traveling, you can host a much larger gathering and still offer decent quality audio, video and more.
- What is a Conference Bridge? How Do They Work?
- Conference Bridge Features
- Conference Bridge Benefits
- Are Conference Bridges the Right Solution for My Business?
- Conference Bridge Tips and Tricks
1. What is a Conference Bridge? How Do They Work?
While three-way conference calls are certainly possible with traditional phone systems, conference bridges can be more affordable and accessible. Hosting a conference call with an old, traditional phone system can require equipment that costs thousands of dollars. With VoIP, you can host a large conference call with just a computer and basic conferencing equipment such as a microphone, speakers and a webcam. Depending on the quality of conference you want, you can upgrade to better equipment and software.
2. Conference Bridge Features
Conference software can help you manage your conference calls, set them up and create invites. Having a conference bridge feature ensures that you can set up conference calls and customize them with a variety of different features.
Popular Conference Bridge Features:
- Mute participants—As participants enter the virtual conference room, you can mute them so there is less sound interference and fewer distractions.
- Login number and PIN for access to the call—Offer participants a quick way to dial-in and gain immediate access to the conference call.
- Invite participants—Invite people directly into the call.
- Eject participants—If you need to remove someone from the call, this feature can help.
- Add participants—Quickly add additional call participants.
- Video—Create a video-based conference experience.
- Audio—Create audio-based conference calls.
- Chat—Chat capabilities are available with some platforms, so participants can chat during the call, ask questions and more without being unmuted or using their microphones.
Depending on the type of conference call you want to have, using a full conference room with equipment can provide better results. If you are willing to spend more on equipment, you can really upgrade the conference call experience and find more to offer your participants. You can improve the sound and video quality, which may be particularly important for larger gatherings or more important meetings. If you have special speakers, this could be a great way to highlight their contribution to the meeting.
Conference room audiovisual equipment is designed to capture audio and video in meetings full of a larger number of participants. A smaller group can usually gather around a computer and have reasonable audiovisual quality, but big conferences with a larger number of participants typically need different equipment. There are cameras on the market that are designed to capture video recordings of an entire room. There are microphones that are better at streaming and recording audio from multiple corners or a conference room or across a conference table.
3. Conference Bridge Benefits
You can hold meetings, teach classes or provide employee or customer training on a product or service with a conference bridge. You can use conference calls to direct and educate customers or introduce new information to a group of employees all at once. There are many different ways you can use conference bridges to grow your business, acquire new customers and teach your employees new concepts and skills.
If you need to host a conference, then having a conference bridge can make a lot of sense. Conference bridges allow you to invite more than two people to a conference call. Otherwise, your limit would likely be you, the presenter, and up to two participants. Some VoIP services allow conference calls that are bigger than three people without a bridge, but having calls with dozens to thousands of participants requires a conference bridge.
4. Are Conference Bridges the Right Solution for My Business?
Businesses that routinely host conferences would probably benefit from conference bridge functionality. If you do not regularly have conferences, it may not make as much sense to obtain conference bridge capabilities by themselves. If your VoIP service plan includes conference bridge functionality, you do not necessarily need conference bridging. As your vendor if they already offer the service. You may need to upgrade your VoIP plan to get these services, however, which is something to keep in mind.
Companies that do not regularly use conferencing may be able to get their work done and have meetings with three-way calling. You can still meet with employees, provide one-on-one product education and more. With some decent VoIP equipment and a VoIP service, these calls can still provide a high-quality small meeting experience. For some small businesses, this may be enough to fit their needs.
5. Conference Bridge Tips and Tricks
As you shop for and begin using a conference bridge feature, be sure to consider these tips:
- Conference equipment can help you create a great conference event. Consider investing in high-quality cameras and microphones.
- VoIP service providers can recommend best practices for creating a great conference with their platform. Ask for their advice.
- With a dial-in phone number, users of traditional telephone systems can access your conferences.
- If you hold your conferences in an actual conference room with multiple speaker-participants, consider upgrading your audio equipment to pick up great sound from wherever in the room your speakers are standing or sitting.
- At the start of conference calls, ask listeners to mute their microphones for better sound quality. With many systems, you can automatically mute participants as they call in.
- Once you have a conference bridge service, try practicing and learning the system before holding an important meeting. Some systems take a while to learn, and you may feel more confident using the software if you are already a little familiar with how it works.
- Before starting your conference call, test your equipment briefly to make sure everything is working properly.