Avoid Conference Call Mistakes
Business professionals today spend a lot of time on conference calls and in virtual meetings –statistics from a few years back estimate that 11 Million meetings take place every day in the U.S. alone. Despite the number of virtual meetings we attend, many meeting-goers encounter conferencing mishaps that can impact the quality of a meeting. Here we’ve put together a list of five common conference call mistakes and some ways to avoid them.
1. Loud Background Noise
I could write a whole post on this one. Dogs barking, phones ringing, babies crying and the airport loud speaker all fall into this category. The great thing about conference calls and virtual meetings is that you can dial in from anywhere and still run training sessions or meet with your team. However these types of disruptions not only degrade your experience, they affect the whole call.
Advanced conferencing tools like InterCall® Reservationless-Plus® with Dolby Voice® use noise reduction technology that suppresses unwanted background noises to eliminate distractions; but, if you don’t have access to this type of technology, simply using the mute button on your cell phone or using the touch tone commands provided by your conferencing services provider to mute your line can vastly reduce disruptions. With meeting control features like Active Talker in your web conference, it’s easy to see where the background noise is coming from, and if you are the leader on the call you should also have the ability to mute all lines except your own and then un-mute those lines for discussion.
2. Hold Music for Everyone
Some offices and cell phone providers include a hold music feature. It’s nice if you’re the only one on hold. But if you put your phone on hold while in a conference, it interrupts the entire call. Make sure to remind your participants that if they have hold music on their phone and their second line rings, they should not put the conference line on hold.
All participants on the call will be able to hear the hold music. If they love their hold music and are proud of it, feed it into the conference before the meeting starts.
3. Poor Audio Quality
No matter what format your meeting takes (voice, video or web), a poor audio connection can kill productivity. A bad connection or static on the line that forces participants to disconnect and reconnect wastes time and disrupts the meeting flow. So when choosing a conferencing provider, it’s important to select a partner that can guarantee quality regardless of the location or device your meeting participants are joining from.
West’s high-quality, on-demand audio services help users connect with co-workers, partners and customers across the globe. West owns and maintains its industry-leading conferencing platform with a dedicated voice quality team to provide clear, crisp connections. We clean up the voice quality before it enters our managed network and then we optimize transport to decrease latency.
As we eluded to above, the easiest way to clear up static is to have attendees disconnect and dial back into the conference call using the same device or a different phone. If that person is unable to hear you over the static you can request an operator and they will be able to zero in on which line is causing the static and either mute or disconnect that line.
4. Dropped Calls
As with poor audio quality, disconnected calls can seriously disrupt your meetings and can be avoided by partnering with a conferencing provider that offers a stable and reliable service. West owns and maintains comprehensive disaster recovery systems that deliver 99.99% uptime. Our conferencing service is highly redundant with duplications of critical platform components as a fail-safe to ensure your meetings continue without service interruption. And our conferencing platform is built to support increasing traffic so you won’t be disconnected.
5. Not Testing Your Speaker Phone or Video Equipment
Using a speaker phone is often a great way to get feedback from a group of people. These days, most speaker phones are full digital duplex and do a great job of delivering sound quality. However, do make sure you test your speaker phone and any video equipment before the conference. Consider how many people will be in the room, whether all will be captured in video, how big the room is and if the phone will cause an echo into the conference.
If your speaker phone is equipped with microphones throughout the room, definitely test and use them. If you’re the only one presenting, I would recommend using your hand/headset for the call and then using the speaker phone for Q&A so those in the room can hear the questions.
So there you have it – our top five recommendations to make your conference calls less distracting and more productive.
If we missed one that really bugs you, let us know on Twitter and we’ll throw out some suggestions as to how to avoid it. If these suggestions aren’t helping your call sound better, maybe what you need is an operator assisted call where someone can help control the noise for you. Remember that your conferencing service provider is there to help you get better sound quality. So, give them a call.