Voice Conferencing Best Practices, Part 1 – Knowing the Hardware

Are 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.

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