Most of our new conferencing customers come to us looking for an edge over their competition. They’re looking to get their message out, but many have never had a conference call before.
Early on, we explain to them the features of our most popular audio conferencing product—PGi’s ReadyConference Plus—and go over the ins and outs of having a successful conference. Invariably, we arrive at a very common customer question, “What about recording? We want the best quality we can get.” Well, that’s music to our ears since we were founded on providing the best quality conference call recordings possible over a standard telephone line. “That’s the entire reason we exist,” we say. “Would you like a high resolution MP3, Wave, WMA?”
That gets the discussion started, but none of the technical jargon matters if we don’t discuss the quality issues before the audio gets to our equipment.
There are five critical areas that must be addressed to get the best quality conference call recording.
- All participants should be dialed-in on landline phones.
- Non-speaking parties should be muted.
- A handset or headset should be the tool of choice.
- Call waiting should be disabled.
- The on-hold button should be anathema!
All participants should use standard landline telephones.
It seems funny, but one of our oldest technologies is still one of our best. However, don’t fall into the trap of pressing the speakerphone button—that is the quickest way to ruin your high-end recording. Also, do not use a cell phone, a VOIP service, or even a wireless phone connected to a landline. All of these technologies degrade the conference call audio in some way and should be avoided.
The reality is, however, some of your participants will ignore the above “DO NOT USE” list. ReadyConference to the rescue… see next step.
Non-speaking parties should be muted.
A great feature of ReadyConference Plus by PGi, is the *6 muting function. Any participant who is not speaking should press *6—the system will mute that line individually.
As the Host/Moderator, you can also control a participant’s mute status from the online web interface. That is, if an unusual amount of noise is coming from a specific line, you will see it and be able to mute that line with a click of a button.
Another method is to have all speakers dial-in with the Host/Moderator passcode, and all non-speakers use the participant code. Before starting the formal part of the call, have a moderator press *96 to mute all participant lines. This acts as a global mute and can come in very handy with a little bit of think-ahead planning.
A handset or headset should be the tool of choice.
A bit earlier, we talked about not using a speakerphone on a conference call. Instead, use a headset. Most headsets these days have very good audio quality and will allow you to talk with your hands free. Once in awhile, even a good quality headset can “act up”. At those times, pick up your old reliable handset; you’ll be amazed how good it sounds.
Disable the Call Waiting feature on your telephone.
Most telephone companies allow you to disable this feature temporarily. Before dialing your conference, press your telephone company’s magic combination of buttons to disable this function—usually restored when you hang up. *70 seems to be the ticket with Qwest, but be sure to check with your local telephone company.
Never…ever use your on-hold button during a conference call recording.
Many businesses have on-hold music for the enjoyment of the person waiting. Imagine the surprise of all the conference call attendees when you put them on hold and they are treated to the Musak version of Beat It by Michael Jackson. Ok, so maybe you like MJ, but the practical implication is that the conference call will come to a complete stop until you return—and then you will know what embarrassment truly is. One hundred of your most important business contacts will be wondering why you just wasted their precious time, and they’ll be looking to “light you up”—maybe literally—like Jack in the picture above.
While these five steps won’t guarantee a perfect conference recording, they will catapult you above your competitors who are not following these steps. Your company brand now has one more edge in the dog-eat-dog world of business.
photo by garybirnie