Archive for the ‘Audio Conferencing’ Category

The 7 Deadly Sins of Conference Calling

Friday, January 16th, 2015

The 7 Deadly Sins of Conference Calling

 

There has been a lot of research done in the past few years trying to determine what people are actually doing during conference calls, and some of the results are shocking. Some of these can be avoided by leaders planning ahead, keeping meetings short and sweet, and checking in ever so often to make sure people are still on board with the subject at hand. But some of these habits can be tackled by the individual participant, and with that, we bring you The Seven Deadly Sins of Conference Calling.

 

  1. Grabbing a bite

Have you ever actually listened to someone eat? Have you ever really listened to the way your mac-n-cheese sounds? Now imagine hearing that sound over a headset with 50+ people on the call. We might all be able to agree that your colleagues would prefer to not hear that on the other end of the line. I promise, your leftovers will be just as delicious moments after the conference call.

 

Eating on a conference call

 

2. Getting your flirt on

According to a 2014 poll 10% of responders admitted to using online dating sites while on conference calls. We were just as shocked as anyone to hear that using online dating sites might, in fact, be wildly inappropriate use of time while on a conference call (can you smell my sarcasm?). Save the dating for after hours, and swipe right to undivided attention.

 

3. Catching up with mom

Yes, we’ve all experienced the euphoria of our mothers finally figuring out how to use social media and posting embarrassing childhood photos on our wall, but the last time you’d want to be checking your facebook is during a conference call. Social media is an integral part of the modern workplace, but if it becomes a distraction during phone calls, it’s probably best to give mom a ring a little later.

 

4. Zzzzzzzzzz

Thinking about getting some shut eye during a call? Maybe think again… 27% of respondents to this survey have admitted to falling asleep during a company call. Unless you’re being paid to be a part of NASA’s sleep study, do yourself and your colleagues a favor and grab some coffee, stretch, and rub those eyes. Must…stay…awake…

 

Sleeping on a conference call

 

5. Checking email

This one is a no brainer. Unless you’re being asked by someone to send a specific email, keep your attention on the task at hand. Groupon isn’t as important as we make it out to be, and yes, there will still be great deals available for your viewing pleasure tomorrow.

 

 

6. Taking care of business

In public speaking, it is often suggested that you imagine your audience in their underwear. I can’t say the same can be said for conference calls. A reported 47% of employees admitted to using the restroom during conference calls. Have fun picturing that one next time you’re on a call.

 

7. Too Many Cooks

Does everyone in the family need to attend the conference call? In all likelihood, the answer is no. Having too many people on the line can get frustrating, both for moderator and participant, especially when everyone is trying  to interact and get a word in. If properly moderated, conference calls can be a breeze, but in order to keep everyone on task and engaged, it might be smart not to invite everyone and their dog. This can be another good way to make sure that everyone in the call is on task and engaged, not committing any of the other 7 deadly sins.

Advantages of Audio Conferencing

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

People working

Clear communication is the key to maintaining a healthy relationship across any platform, but is especially relevant in the workplace. Although the most common form of inter-office communication occurs via email, there’s still something to be said for the conference call. When it comes to employees and clientele, there are a few significant reasons to consider picking up the phone instead of heading for your inbox.

Research has demonstrated that the majority of employees that use conferencing technology use conference calls more frequently than videoconferencing1. This could be for a variety of reasons, including convenience and availability. In any case, the fact that conference calls remain heavily utilized illustrates that they serve an undisputable role in establishing the relationship between employees and clients alike.

 

In addition to the convenience of setting up a conference call, the lack of visual connection (as found with videoconferencing) allows for both parties to have professional conversations in a variety of settings (i.e. home, job site, etc.). This is an especially nice perk when it comes to calls that could occur across time zones, during weekends, or spur of the moment. For those who travel frequently for work, these calls are a great way to touch base without being completely invasive.

Despite the speed at which modern technology is advancing, some businesses (especially those with financial limitations) can’t afford to invest in a complete videoconferencing setup. Subsequently, it’s nice to have an audio fallback that will still allow for group communication; conference calls (affordably) offer just that. Businesses that have the means will often have their conference calls hosted, which provides a variety of features (billing depends on the selected options).

Speakerphone Discussion

For both small and large companies alike, conference calls are a respected, reliable way to connect employees and clientele. The user-friendly aspect coupled with universal applicability makes conference calls a clear standby.

 

 

 

  1. Harris, Daniel. “Preferred Conferencing Solutions in the Workplace IndustryView | 2014.” Preferred Conferencing Solutions in the Workplace IndustryView | 2014. Software Advice, 15 Sept. 2014. Web. 13 Oct. 2014.

Can You Hear Me Now? Optimizing Conference Call Audio

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

Audio quality can make or break the success of a conference call. With dozens of participants using a number of different devices, less-than-perfect audio can be a real problem. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to minimize disturbances the next time you host a conference.

Echos

Conference call participants hear an echo when their microphone picks up their voice as it plays back through their speakers. This interruption can bring productive conversation to a standstill. The culprit here is one of the devices being used to dial into the call—usually a laptop or speakerphone with audio components not specifically designed for conference calling. Ensure you’re not the offender by investing in a high-quality microphone with built in acoustic echo cancellation. This technology recognizes when sound from your microphone is being returned to your speakers and filters it out before it can generate feedback.

 

Ambient Noise

Papers shuffling, HVAC systems turning on and off, the click-clack of callers taking notes on their laptops—these small sounds add up. Many microphones can, and will, pick up unwanted background noise, passing it along to everyone else on the conference line. Your line of defense here is three-fold:

 

First, set up your conference phone in a quiet location where third parties are unlikely to interrupt. You’ll want to place your speakerphone or alternative device away from walls, windows, and other surfaces that can reflect sound and cause residual echo.

 

Second, choose a microphone/speaker setup that employs noise cancellation algorithms to identify and remove the white noise of fluorescent lights, electronics, and other sources of ambient sound. If your conference calls regularly include numerous people in the same room, with participants coming and going throughout the meeting, consider a speakerphone that uses adaptive modeling to predict and adjust for a variety of acoustical events—including changes in seating arrangements and speaker location.

 

Finally, you may want to mute all callers at the beginning of the conference. It’s likely that some participants will be using devices without high-performance audio components and others will be calling in from uncontrolled environments—an open-layout office, for example, or their car. Participants can unmute their lines individually when they’d like to speak or pose a question.

 

Distortion

Conference call setups that use multiple microphones at the same time are prone to acoustic distortion. Speakers may sound as if they are standing in a tunnel. This occurs when a speaker’s voice is picked up by different microphones at different times, due to physical obstructions in the room that affect how sound travels. If you commonly have multiple speakers in the same room, look for a conference phone with a microphone array equipped with voice detection technology that activates only one microphone at a time as determined by the proximity of the speaker.

 

Interference

If you keep your Blackberry in your pocket, a tablet on the table, and you’re sitting in a room of colleagues working on their laptops, you can expect to hear static, crackling, and snaps playing back on the conference line. These electronic devices cause interference that negatively impacts the performance of microphones and speakers. Make sure to keep these electronics away from your conference phone or alternative device. Better yet, leave them behind when it’s time for your call.

 

Connectivity

Sound cutting out and sentences being clipped? Check your internet connection. A slow or intermittent connection can decimate call quality.

 

Technology

When clarity is top priority, USB microphones outperform their more traditional analog counterparts. USB headsets and microphones translate native (analog) sound to digital without any additional hardware. And if low volume is a problem, USB devices usually offer a quick and easy fix.

Audio Conferencing Services are Still in Demand

Monday, February 20th, 2012

I have been in the teleconferencing industry over 17 years and despite all the new technologies that have come about in that time audio conferencing services remain in high demand.  Why do conference call services continue to grow year after year?  Here are several reasons why audio conferencing services are still growing faster than some of the newer services like web conferencing.

  • Simplicity – Ever since the reservationless pass code conference call was invented audio conferencing services have grown at a rapid rate because it became easy to use.  Before this type of conference call an operator had to call out to all of the participants and put them into a conference.  It was difficult to get all of the participants because they had left their desk or wherever it was we were calling into.  And you also had to schedule these calls in advance with the conferencing services company.  It just was not an easy to use service.  Once that changed it became simple for everyone to do a conference call.  And as more and more people participated on an automated conference call and experienced how easy it was to do the more the service grew.  There has not been a new teleconferencing service invented that is easier to use than regular phone conferencing.
  • Convenience – These days with the widespread use of cell phones people can be just about anywhere and use audio conferencing services.  If you are trying to use a web conferencing service you need to be at your computer in order to see the presentation or manipulate the conference.  With regular conference calls you just need to be on a telephone.  And despite the power of the visual element in a meeting many times all you really need to do with people is talk over issues, project statuses etc. and there is no need to share a presentation or anything else as part of the call.
  • Cost – Audio conferencing services have come down in price to where any business can afford to use them.  In fact, the smaller the business the more imperative it is to use conferencing services to save time and money.  You really can’t afford to not use conference call services.  Even people in their personal lives are discovering that a conference call can come in very handy to bring families and groups together.

So it really is no surprise that audio conferencing services are still growing rapidly despite all of the new services available it is tough to beat what works.

Audio Conferencing can Save a Road Trip

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

Audio Conferencing is one of those things that I wonder what we did without it.  And not just because I am in the business.  Conference calls are so wide spread that I just can’t imagine life without them.  Especially if you are a road warrior or even just someone who finds themselves out of the office on a regular basis.  After all let’s face it there is a lot of down time when you are on the road and there is no reason you can’t remain productive.  Because audio conferencing can really save a road trip.  There are any number of ways that conferencing can save the day on the road.

  • Attend Regular Meetings – When you are out of the office there is no need to miss the regular meetings that keep you in touch.  Simply get an audio conference set up and hold the meeting from the road.
  • Impromptu Meetings – You get the email and need to pull a group together but you are hundreds of miles away.  No problem, just use audio conferencing to pull together the people you need to discuss whatever situation is thrown at you.
  • Handle Emergencies – Every business gets hit with an emergency from time to time and customers know that as well.  It is how you handle the emergencies that will distinguish you.  Pulling together the people necessary to deal with the emergency and making sure everyone is on the same page will do a lot to contain any issues the emergency will uncover.  Audio conferencing allows you to pull together the emergency team in a moments notice no matter where you are at the time.
  • Personal Use – Yes, personal use.  I bet you have not used a conference call for your personal use before but for all the same reasons it can really help.  If there is a personal emergency or even if you just want to congratulate a son or daughter on a big accomplishment why not get everyone on the phone at the same time?

So the next time you are getting ready to go on the road and you are packing make sure you bring along audio conferencing.  You never know when you might need it and it can really save your road trip.

An Audio Conferencing Company First

Thursday, December 1st, 2011

I have been in the teleconferencing industry since 1995 and since then there have been technologies come along that were going to eliminate audio conferencing several times.  But every time the new technology has helped augment audio conferencing but never really threatened to eliminate what is still the most cost effective and easiest way to meet with a group of people.  That is why when I started Zip Conferencing I decided to make sure I built the best audio conferencing company first.  After that whether it is web conferencing or video conferencing or whatever the latest technology is the company would have the foundation of being a really great audio conferencing company and could easily adopt and layer other technologies on top of that.  Over the years the two technologies that were going to replace audio conferencing but instead have only helped grow audio conferencing usage are web conferencing and video conferencing.  Here are some reasons why these are complimentary services and will never eliminate the need for audio conferencing.

  • Video Conferencing – Video conferencing has been around for  along time and in my 16 years in the industry I have heard lots of reasons why this technology has not been widely adopted.  I have also seen efforts over the years to “fix” these problems with video conferencing only to see the adoption rate remain sluggish at best.  At first it was very expensive so it was not widely available.  Only very large companies had access to the technology necessary to conduct an effective video conference.  Today you can conduct a video conference from your desktop for very little money.  The technology and network bandwidth is basically universally available.  But people simply do not use video conferencing all that much except maybe for personal use to speak to loved ones from great distances.  I think the biggest hurdle to wide adoption of this technology is the aversion of the participants to being in front of the camera.  Most people I know do not like being in front of a video camera and looking at their own image on a screen.  As an audio conferencing company this is music to my ears. 
  • Web Conferencing – Web conferencing has seen tremendous growth since its introduction in the late 1990s because it has become easy to use, inexpensive and it mimics the way we meet with others.  You can literally do anything on a web conference today that you can do in a conference room.  It even has video conferencing built in if you want it but most people simply want to share their desktop or do a remote presentation.  And the audio portion of the call is still done over a conference call system through an audio conferencing company.  This means that the audio quality is just as good as a normal conference call.  And as an audio conferencing company I am happy because we can provide both services and people tend to meet longer because they can have more effective meetings.

So, first and foremost, Zip Conferencing will always be an audio conferencing company first.