As we suffer through the new way to conduct business brought on by the pandemic, audio conference calls are being the norm for many companies. However, when many of the call participants can’t hear half of what is being discussed, the purpose of the call is diminished and the resulting outcome falls short of the intended goal.
There are several user-related issues that can affect a conference call. The call environment and the Internet connection can also create issues. The following steps will help eliminate many of the issues and should be a helpful guide to more efficient audio conference calls,
1. LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
Pick the location of your call carefully. Many companies have rooms for conferencing so the issue of outside noise is not as great. However, in today’s world most of the call attendees are working from home and that is where many of the problems begin.
Home located participants need to choose their call location carefully. Make sure that children and pets are secured in another area of the home so that they cannot cause interference. We have all experienced calls where right in the missile of an important point, we hear a loud “WOOF”. Not only does this disturb the point being made, but usually creates a breaking point in the meeting where more conversation revolves around the dog instead of the business.
2. DON’T USE CELLPHONES or SPEAKERPHONES
There will be lots of unfavorable comments about this point. Because the call must be productive and satisfactory, using your smartphone or speakerphone isn’t the best idea. Even the most expensive smartphones (there’s an inexpensive smartphone?) don’t have the sound quality that landlines used to provide. Even computers have better sound capabilities.
If you must use a smartphone or speakerphone, ALWAYS mute your microphone when not speaking. One of the biggest problems of audio conference calls is the number of open microphones. Remember that when microphones are open, they will pickup any extraneous noises such as AC hiss, typing strokes, pencils drumming on the desk, etc. All these lead to un-comprehensive audio on the other end.
3. STOP THE ECHOING
Ever have a call where you hear everything you say repeated into your ear? This is common when there are lots of people on the call. This is usually caused when your speakers are located too close to the microphone and the sound from the speakers is reflected into you microphone. Simply relocate the speakers or move the microphone away from the speakers. Again, remember to mute your microphone when not speaking.
4. USE A HEADSET/MIC
Whether using a landline, cell phone or computer, using a headset with mic will make the audio sound clearer. If you decide to use a headset look for the following features:
- A flexible built-in mic
- Wireless functionality that can connect to any device
- Noise cancellation capability
5. USE THE MUTE BUTTON!
The use of the mute button will ensure that no one unintentionally interrupts or talks over someone else. It will also limit the background noise on the call. Before the call plan whether the host will control the mute function (recommended). This works well for larger calls. If you are in a collaborative session, allow the participants to mute/unmute themselves.
6. MONITOR BANDWIDTH
Lastly, a broadband connection is the ideal way to conduct a conference call. If even one participant has a poor VoIP or cellular connection, it can cause audio quality issues for everyone on the call. If you are conferencing with the same participants on a regular basis, have them verify their Internet speed and possibly bringing it up to the standard needed.
Following these guidelines will not guarantee trouble-free calls. However, they will help improve calls if any of the things mentioned above are present. Biggest thing to remember and implement is to mute mics when not speaking. This includes mics in a conference room where there are only one or two participants but many microphones.