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Audio refers to sound. A conference is a meeting. Audio conferencing usually refers to meetings held by people in different places using devices that allow sounds to be sent and received. These meetings may only involve two parties, but in many cases, there are numerous parties involved.
Audio conferencing allows multiple parties to connect using devices such as phones or computers. This can be a solution for a number of problems that can arise when multiple parties need to meet. People who are distant and busy do not have to sacrifice the travel time since the meeting can be conducted from a nearby phone or computer. A person who would otherwise be excluded due to a bedridden illness can participate. Money that would be needed to book a meeting facility or host a lunch meeting can be saved.
There are numerous methods and technologies that support audio conferencing. Many telephone companies offer the capability of three-way calling. This allows a person to call two other people on separate lines and join them together to form a group. Each person in the group who has three-way calling has the ability to expand the meeting by adding two more people.
In some cases, services are employed to help facilitate the process. For example, telephone audio conferencing can occur when one party contacts a conferencing service. The host will often be given a toll-free telephone number and an access code. When he and others dial that number and enter the code, they will be granted access to the conference.
Conferencing services offer various features to their clients that can make telephone audio conferencing an even more attractive option. Participants may, for example, be able to record and later replay all or certain segments of the meeting. The system prompts that participants hear when they call may be translated into other languages. There are also some services that offer to publish the completed audio conference on the Internet so it may be accessed later.
Audio conferencing can also be conducted using a computer and the Internet. If a person is only listening, he will only need speakers. If he plans to speak, he will need a microphone as well.
There are websites where people can register and make calls to one another. There are usually features that allow additional participants to be added to the conversation. New people normally cannot join the meeting without actions being taken by someone already in the conversation.
More sophisticated services offer online audio conferencing options known as virtual meeting rooms. These may be accessed by numerous people without action being required from the host or the present participants. A virtual meeting room often offers valuable features such as the ability to make visual presentations, share files, and to allow private messaging between participants.