Online collaboration is growing more important every day. This means that online voice conferencing is here to stay, too. Now is the ideal time to get started with your own VoIP calls. The first post in this series introduced you to useful hardware. Today, we want to take it one step further and look into voice conferencing software. VoIP conferences give you more options than a traditional telephone conference when it comes to the settings – sound volume, mute, microphone sensitivity… If you’re just getting started with VoIP, however, the wide range of features may seem overwhelming. After all, it’s quite a switch from your old phone! Not one to be left behind, you still want to make use of new technology, and of course you want to know how you can get the best results from your investment.
The Right Tools – Software
If you are planning to use VoIP in combination with another tool such as a screen sharing solution, look for software that offers both. There are a number of tools available for online meetings or sales demonstrations that offer a built-in VoIP feature. This is the most convenient solution for both you and your clients or colleagues. Make sure that the software is easy to use for everyone involved, and that it works across platforms. With the release of Mikogo Version 5, the VoIP feature is fully integrated into the software. Whether you want to use Mikogo for meetings, conferences, training, or remote support: the voice conference is only a click away.
Before you jump into your first VoIP conference, familiarize yourself with the software and find the ideal settings. The key setting is microphone sensitivity. This determines which sounds your microphone will pick up. If the sensitivity is too high, there will be a lot of background noise, especially in an open office space. If, on the other hand, the sensitivity is too low, you will need to speak very loudly in order for others to hear you. Find the right settings before your first actual conference. The best way to achieve this is by doing a trial run with a colleague.
The advantage of good software is that you have a wide range of features available to facilitate your voice conference. In order to get the most out of your software, you need to know which features it offers and how you can use them:
It might sound strange considering that the purpose of a VoIP conference is talking to each other, but one of the most important features of VoIP is the mute button. Especially when a lot of people attend a meeting, an open voice conference can be difficult to coordinate. As long as one person is presenting, for example, there is no need for anyone else to talk. Listening is the foundation of good communication, so keep the audio channel clear for the presenter. As the presenter, you can use the “mute all” function during the presentation and ensure that you won’t be interrupted by background noises. Once you wish to open the floor to questions and discussion, you can unmute everyone.
Emoticons are a great way for participants to give you an immediate status update on how they’re getting on with the conference. These little icons enable each participant to let you know whether they like or dislike an idea, have a question, want to add a comment, or would like you to speak slower or faster. Even though they’re muted, you can still get their feedback.
During any part of a presentation, participants may have questions. Whether you want to answer questions immediately or hold a brief Q&A session at the end of each section, everyone benefits if you keep track of questions during the presentation. This is where a chat feature comes in handy. Participants can post questions as they come up, and you’ll have them all in one place for when you want to answer them. The chat feature can be useful in other ways as well, for example for comments and additions during the presentation.
With the right meeting software, you have a lot of powerful features for voice conferencing at your disposal. A solution like Mikogo is very easy to get started with, but make sure that you familiarize yourself with all the different options in order to get the best possible results for everyone.
In our next and final post in this series (coming soon!), we will give you some practical tips for conducting a successful online voice conference.