A teleconference is a meeting of people in different locations using telecommunications. A basic teleconference may only include audio, while other types of teleconferences may include video and data sharing. Some common examples include telephone conferences, videoconferences, and web meetings.
The most simple and widely used type of teleconference is a phone conference, since the only equipment required is a speakerphone. If a project needs to be discussed between more than two people in different locations, they can all dial a conference phone number that will allow everybody to talk to each other at the same time. A board meeting may also double as a teleconference if board members attend remotely. Many board rooms include a conferencing system that allows people to "teleconference in" to the meeting by calling the conference phone number. This allows remote board members to actively participate in a board meeting even if they are not physically present.
Teleconferences may also include live video. These types of teleconferences, often called videoconferences, allow people to see each other in real-time during a remote meeting. A videoconference may be one-way, where one remote user or group is displayed on a video feed, or two-way, where both sides can see each other. In the early days of videoconferencing, expensive equipment was required in order to set up a videoconference. Today, you can simply use a computer's built-in video camera and free software such as Skype to videoconference with other users.
Thanks to the Internet, teleconferences may also include data sharing. These types of conferences often use web browsers as the user interface and are therefore called web meetings. For example, you can use a web-based service like Join.me to share your screen with other users. You can even let another person control your screen, which is great for remote troubleshooting. Businesses may use a web-based service like WebEx to host an online presentation for hundreds or even thousands of attendees. When hosting a web presentation, the presenter controls the screen and is typically the only one who can be heard during the meeting. Attendees are often provided with a chat window in which they can ask questions and interact with the presenter.
Updated: October 9, 2014