Audio and video conferencing: What’s better for office meetings?

In 1979, video killed the radio star.

Fast forward a few decades, and it’s video conferencing that’s killing work commutes, long-drawn office meetings, in-person events, and even office dress codes.

If you’ve been using video conferencing to chat with other people on your team, manage customer service, or just keep your business afloat in general—you know exactly what we are talking about.

Luckily, it has worked out well for most of us.

But here’s what nobody seems to be talking about—conferencing over audio is playing an equally important role in helping businesses connect remotely—without the pressure of facing the camera.

Given its sudden popularity, video conferencing is the “shiny new object” that everybody is gravitating towards right now. But audio conferencing—which basically helps us achieve the same goal—doesn’t always get its due credit.

(We know because we help hundreds of small businesses communicate with their staff and customers every day using RingCentral’s video and audio conferencing software.)

So, which is a better option for work: audio or video conferencing? What’s the opportunity cost of using just one or the other?

In this post, we are going to answer all of that, plus a few other questions:


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The difference between audio and video conferencing

The biggest similarity between voice and video conferencing is that they’re both real-time communication channels. But that’s where most of their similarities end.

There are three fundamental ways video conferencing is different from audio conferencing:

  1. The format in which they are carried out
  2. The technology that makes them possible
  3. The costs associated with them

Obviously, video conferencing uses video as its primary content format (although audio is an inherent part of it). Audio conferencing, on the other hand, can take place without the need for a face-to-face setup.

On the tech side, video conferencing demands high-speed internet, higher streaming bandwidth, good quality audiovisual gear, and so on.

Audio conferencing doesn’t necessarily require a complex technical setup either—it can be as simple as plugging a phone in and making a call.

Of course, the audio conferencing requirements among business circles are much more complex than that.

The above two differences between video and audio conferencing solutions tend to make video conferencing the pricier option because of its high-definition video and high-fidelity audio requirements.

Here’s a simple table to further understand the difference between audio and video conferencing systems:

Video conferencingAudio conferencing
Multimedia in formatAudio only
Includes audio conferencing by defaultIs a subset of video conferencing
Requires high-speed, high-streaming internet bandwidth As simple as phoning someone from your phone
Gives you other collaboration options like screen sharingDoesn’t let you have visual aids during calls

It’s important to note that none of the features listed above position video as a “superior” option to audio conferencing—or vice versa. That’s because they can both be beneficial depending on what situation you find yourself in.

As an aside, if you plan to be able to work from anywhere, you’ll most likely need both options handy. (And in our humble opinion, most businesses are better off adapting and becoming comfortable with both video meetings and audio conferencing anyway.)

Next, let’s look at the strengths and weaknesses of both conferencing technologies. – Read more

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