A Conference Call is a telephone call in which the calling party wishes to have more than one called party listen in to the audio portion of the call. The conference calls may be designed to allow the called party to participate during the call, or the call may be set up so that the called party merely listens into the call and cannot speak. It is often referred to as an ATC (Audio Tele-Conference).

Conference Calling

Conference calls can be designed so that the calling party calls the other participants and adds them to the call. In most cases, the participants are able call into the conference call themselves. They do so either by dialing into a "conference bridge" (a specialized type of equipment that links telephone lines), or by using a special telephone number set up for that purpose.

Conference Call Service

Most companies use a specialized service provider for conference calls. These service providers maintain the conference bridge, and provide the phone numbers used to access the meeting or conference call.

Business Conference Calling

Businesses use conference calls daily to meet with remote parties, both internally and outside of their company. Common applications are client meetings or sales presentations, project meetings and updates, regular team meetings, training classes and communication to employees who work in different locations. Conference calling is viewed as a primary means of cutting travel costs and allowing workers to be more productive by not having to go out-of-office for meetings.

Conference calls are used by nearly all United States public corporations to report their quarterly results. These calls usually allow for questions from stock analysts and are called earnings calls. A standard conference call begins with a disclaimer stating that anything said in the duration of the call may be a forward looking statement, and that results may vary significantly. The CEO, CFO, or Investor Relations officer then will read the company's quarterly report. Lastly, the call is opened for questions from analysts.

Conference calls are increasingly used in conjunction with web conferences, where presentations or documents are shared via the internet.

Conference calls are also beginning to cross over into the world of podcasting and social networking, which in turn fosters new kinds of interaction patterns. Live streaming or broadcasting of conference calls allows a larger audience access to the call without dialing in to a bridge. In addition, organizers of conference calls can publish a dial-in number alongside the audio stream, creating potential for audience members to dial in if and when they wish to interact.

Conference Calls for Social Occassions

Conference calls can also be used for entertainment or social purposes, such as the party line or a group call. People call in to a specified telephone number, and are connected to conversations with other callers. This serves as a way to talk to and perhaps, subsequently, meet new people. However, conference calls are most commonly used by businesses.