Improve Conference Call Audio
5 tips to help IT get the basics right
“We’re constantly having to repeat ourselves on conference calls.”
“The client complained about background noise.”
“I listened to the recording and all I could hear was the sound of shuffling paper.”
Sound familiar? The IT department is often the first to hear when users feel that the conference system isn’t up to scratch. Sometimes a new A/V system is the answer. But it isn’t always.
The right audio technology will improve the quality of conference calls. But only when the technology is used correctly will conferencing become less of a resource drain on IT, and more of a strategic business enabler.
Here are five tips for improving the audio quality of conference calls.
1. Ensure employees know the technology inside out
It might sound glaringly obvious but training employees on how to use the audio equipment is crucial. So, make it your business to turn every single one of them into an audio ninja, or wait for the inevitable calls to IT when things go wrong.
Arrange sessions where employees get to do test runs of all audio functions. And don’t stop until they feel confident using it for a real call.
2. Keep the ambient noise level low
Keeping noise levels to a minimum requires two things: quiet rooms and sensible employees. So, start by putting your meeting rooms to the test. Inspect all rooms, during different times of the day, to hear potential distractions. For example, that room next to the canteen probably isn’t ideal during lunch hours. Maybe that seemingly soundproofed room has a particularly noisy air conditioning system? Or roadworks outside? Once completed, you’ll be able to provide employees with the right environment for noiseless conference calls.
Secondly, ensure employees know the basics of conference etiquette. Here are some basic rules:
- No flipping through pages on the table.
- Silence, or better yet, turn off all mobile phones.
- If a phone is on vibrate, keep it in your pocket, not on a hard surface.
3. Make sure you have enough mics for everyone
Sharing microphones may seem like an easy way of cutting costs. But it notably decreases sound quality. If you place one microphone between two participants, they often end up speaking into the sides. The thing is, conferencing microphones are usually not designed to pick up sound from the sides.
Not only does passing microphones back and forth waste time, it also results in handling noise being picked up in their path. Plus, IT staff will want to reduce often expensive microphones being passed from pillar to post by impatient colleagues.
So, don’t cut costs this way. Invest in enough microphones for everyone, in every room.
4. Make sure mics are positioned correctly
People assume that if there’s a microphone anywhere in the room, it will pick up their voices. However, microphones designed to pick up speech are directional. That means that they pick up sound best from one direction: the front.
If an employee speaks into the side of the microphone, near the microphone, or next to their neighbor’s microphone, their voice will be hard to hear. Make employees aware that they must position the microphone directly in front of them.
5. Don’t focus so much on video that you forget about audio
When it comes to A/V technology, organizations often put a large part of their IT comms budget into video technology and don’t leave enough for high-quality audio.
Here’s a big problem with that approach: while you can have a conference call without video, as soon as the sound goes out—unless everyone involved speaks sign language—the conference call is over. If you need to ensure one element of your A/V conference call technology will work reliably, choose the more essential part: the audio.