Computer headsetAre you hosting your voice conferences over the Web yet? As everything in the workplace moves towards virtual spaces, online voice conferencing via Voice over IP (VoIP) is gaining on the traditional telephone conference in the office, and with good reason. Not only is it more cost-effective, especially when it comes to international calls, it’s also much more convenient. You can call multiple people at once with ease, and you have your hands free during the call. Add to this the many features that VoIP software offers and the advantages over a standard phone call are getting clearer. However, switching to new technology can be daunting. Do you need additional hardware? What should you look for in conferencing software? Don’t worry, you’re not the only one asking those questions. This week, we answer your hardware questions and offer some useful tips for successful online voice conferences.

The Right Tools – Hardware

The first step on your way to a successful online voice conference is choosing the right tools for the job. If you’re going to wave goodbye to your telephone handset, you’re going to need a new way to make yourself heard. Even if your laptop has a built-in microphone and speakers, you may want to invest in some additional hardware. It’s only a matter of a few dollars and this way, you can ensure that your online voice conference is the best possible experience for both you and your audience. So what exactly do you need?

Headphones

The sound quality of a voice conference is greatly improved if all participants are using headphones rather than speakers. If you are working in an open office space, not only might you disturb the colleagues around you, the people you are in a conference with might not appreciate being broadcast from your speakers either. Keep your conference private, and save your co-workers from noise pollution.

For anyone working in a private office or from home, headphones are crucial too. If you use speakers, everything that the participants in your conference say will be picked up by your microphone and transmitted back into the voice conference. This leads to a very unpleasant echo effect for your participants. Bad sound quality can in turn create a negative atmosphere for the whole meeting, and even the most understanding prospects and colleagues can only tolerate so much.

Microphone

Using a pair of headphones is the first step in ensuring that your voice conference sounds good. The next thing you need to check for quality is your microphone. If people can’t understand you, it’s hard to create a productive conference setting. Especially if you have a built-in microphone, be sure to test it before you use it with an important client. If the sound quality is not satisfactory, invest in an external microphone.

For ease of use, we recommend an external headset. This allows you to listen and speak through one device. Most local computer or electronics shops will have a selection available in store. No matter the price range, every good headset should fulfill certain criteria; for instance, you should be able to adjust the microphone and headphone position to make the headset as comfortable as possible. After all, depending on the length and frequency of your voice conferences, you will be wearing it for extended periods of time. Some headsets come with additional features, such as volume control via the headset or a mute button. If you find these options useful, make sure that you look for a headset that includes them.

Know your VoIP hardware

Now that you know what you need from your hardware, you can start looking into the right software for online voice conferences. Stay tuned for our next post in this series, which will cover the most important features of voice conferencing software.

Discussion: as you know, we just officially released our VoIP feature last week. How did you go with your first call? If you have any helpful tips for other Mikogo users in setting up your headset for your Mikogo VoIP calls, feel free to share them in a comment below.