Sound is a fundamental element of everything we do. It dictates how we communicate with colleagues, how we interact with our environment and even how we learn. In the workplace — and during meetings in particular — being able to hear and understand what your colleagues are saying is imperative for collaboration and productivity to prevail.
Anyone who has been on a conference call knows that audio quality can make or break a call. From mute malfunctions to auditory echoes, issues with audio quality can completely derail even the best presentation or brainstorming session. To guarantee that your conference goes off without a hitch, take a look at these common conference call problems and learn how to ensure every meeting you conduct is a smashing success:
The Speaker’s Volume Is Too Low
An all too common conference call error occurs when the presenter has their volume set too low. This negatively affects the volume on the recipients’ end, thereby limiting their ability to understand the presentation or conversation. And, as science tells us, when you’re struggling to understand what someone is saying, your brain dedicates brain power that would normally be used for problem-solving to linguistic comprehension, thereby inhibiting your ability to think critically. To prevent this, be sure to run sound checks and resolve any audio issues beforehand. Your meeting recipients (and their brains) will thank you.
Recently, I took a conference call in a Starbucks. A quiet coffeehouse setting perfect for a productive meeting, right? Wrong. As it turns out, grinding whole coffee beans down into grounds is loud. Like, really loud. I ended up hiding with my phone into the bathroom to finish my call because I was leading the discussion and the noise was simply too much to subject my colleagues to. Lesson learned: either take a conference call in a quiet place or take your conference calls on a mobile phone so you can move to a quiet location if noise arises.
The Dreaded Echo
No one likes hearing their own voice in a normal situation. And hearing your voice echoed back to you when speaking during a conference call? Let the cringing begin. Audio echoes are common on conference calls and usually occur because two people on the call are taking the conference call from the same room. If two or more people in the same room join a conference call, the software doesn’t cancel out the echo from one participant’s phone to another’s. The easiest way to solve this problem is to call from one line with multiple people in the room, rather than having multiple active lines in the same room.
Forgetting to Un-Mute a Caller
If you are the host of a conference call, the power is at your fingertips. You can mute and un-mute participants as needed to provide for the most hospitable conferencing environment. But as Spiderman’s Uncle Ben once said, with great power comes great responsibility. And it’s your responsibility to un-mute people on an as-needed basis to make sure that the dialogue on the call can persist uninterrupted .
Many audio conferencing providers automatically delay audio for a few seconds from speech to broadcast. This is done on purpose; the delay helps minimize feedback and other audio problems. However, it is not uncommon for this feature to be affected by glitches, creating additional or excessive delays. A longer delay results in awkward pauses in conversation and results in stilted speech. In many cases, these delays occur because there are more people on the line than the service can handle. A conference phone is a great way to avoid overwhelming your conferencing software and minimizing echo.
By understanding the underlying causes that contribute to common conference call problems and knowing the necessary steps to take to resolve those issues, your conference call experience can improve tenfold. With the right tools in your arsenal, you can minimize disruptions during calls and ensure that all of your meetings operate at maximum efficiency.