Phone Access to Online Meetings


If you lack a “smart” phone, you may have despaired of finding meetings online via the Zoom platform: the phone-in string of numbers is long, intimidating and oddly written.

But it can be done, and quite simply. You won’t be able to see folks. You may not be able to share, depending on your dexterity, but you can listen as though you’re there in cyberspace with your fellow A.A.’s.

Two important things to know: All dial-in numbers are long-distance from Hawaii; if your phone plan does not include long-distance, you can’t call the access number. And Zoom meetings will eat up your minutes if you’re using a prepaid or burner phone.

On our website, as on others, when you locate the dial-in number for a meeting, it’s often expressed in one long string: the call-in number (10 digits)#, … the meeting ID number (9-11) digits#, … and then (sometimes, but not always) additional numbers or words that are used as a password for entering the meeting#. Maybe you just gave up when you saw that digital overload.

Not to worry. Here’s what will happen when you break those numbers down:

  1. First dial the long-distance call-in number for that particular Zoom meeting, just as you would any other long distance phone number. If your phone allows, you can store this number in your phone’s contacts so you don’t have to dial it again another time. That number, of course, will always begin with 1, followed by an area code of three digits, then seven digits for the phone number.
  2. You will hear a prompt from Zoom asking you for the meeting ID number (or some similar wording). Type in that 11-digit number particular to the meeting you want to access, followed by a pound sign (hashtag).
  3. You will then hear a prompt asking for the password or other number if there is one. Dial that (you may have to translate a word to numbers; write that down on paper first so you don’t have to figure it out on the keyboard while you try and dial). Again, end with a pound sign or hashtag.

Next you should be admitted to the meeting, if it’s open. There may be no formal prompt, you may just hear people speaking in familiar A.A. language!

Once you get into the meeting, remain silent and listen carefully so you won’t interrupt. Once you figure out what’s going on, you may need to mute or unmute yourself. That’s *6. (It’s a “toggle.” If you’re muted when you come in, hitting *6 will unmute you. And the other way round.)

You may want to raise your hand to share or to make an A.A.-related announcement, or to volunteer to read. Just punch *9 (star 9). To lower your hand, repeat *9. (Remember to remain silent until the host calls on you and to mute yourself after you finish speaking)

If the meeting is not open (let’s say you dialed in too early), you’ll hear a voice telling you to try later.

Do that. And keep coming back. If you’re still puzzled, get someone with a computer to help you. The Internet is packed with tutorials and quick video classes on how to enter the world of teleconferencing.

Alcoholics Anonymous