No Jitter is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Better Audio Conferences

We have all attended conference calls where you can't hear well or the meeting is disorganized or the wrong people are attending. Sometimes you ask yourself, "Can we get work done between the conference calls?" Selecting the best technology, combined with an effective moderator and cooperative attendees, can make all the difference.

VTech has introduced cordless audio conference sets that help avoid all the cables of the typical audio conferencing set and allow greater distances to be covered.

Graham, what are the disadvantages of a poor conference call?
A poorly managed conference call leads to attendee dissatisfaction. The time of the participants is wasted. A string of poor conference calls may stimulate attendees to arrive late or not at all. Some may not pay attention and work on e-mail or other distractions, thereby rendering their attendance useless. Bored attendees may be more reluctant to agree on the results of the conference call. In all these cases, the conference call is unproductive.

The conference call's goal is to have the attendees listen and participate to share knowledge, discuss problems, and move forward to attain some action or agreement with those that cannot be personally in the meeting room. Preparing for the conference call and managing it effectively is the responsibility of both the moderator and the attendees.

What can the moderator do before the conference call?
Good technology like easy-to-use high sound quality sets helps, but it cannot improve the behavior of the participants. The conference moderator can produce an effective and efficient conference call by preparing and conducting the call in an organized manner. The moderator should:

• Provide an agenda and schedule in advance of the call to all potential attendees
• Schedule the call so that it occurs with the least inconvenience for the attendees
• Ensure that invited attendees confirm that they will be attending
• If not attending the conference call, determine whether the call will be useful or schedule at a different time

What should the moderator do during the conference call?
The moderator is the conference leader and should show leadership throughout the call. The moderator should:

• Take attendance
• If not all of the attendees are on the call, send out a message to those not yet signed in to call their attention to the call
• Announce the objectives at the beginning of the call
• Provide a tech support number and/or website
• Request non- speakers to mute their microphones when not speaking
• Keep to the agenda and schedule
• If the call lasts more than one hour, schedule a break
• Limit speaker digressions (they are usually not on target and a waste of time)
• Speak clearly and slowly
• Record the call or have someone designated to take notes
• Open the call to others periodically for feedback
• Summarize the call results and actions to be taken

Attendees can ruin a conference call. What should they be doing?
No matter how well the moderator does the job, attendees can still sabotage the call. Attendees may not even realize they are causing problems during the call. The attendees have a responsibility to make their participation useful and productive. Attendees should:

• Call in on time
• Locate the microphone in a quiet location with a drink
• Remove distractions like PCs, tablets and mobile devices
• Never turn on on-hold music
• Have their material for participation available and organized
• Ensure they use the mute button, not the hold button
• Announce themselves when speaking
• Speak precisely and unambiguously
• Try to use a landline, not a mobile phone during the call
• Speak only when you have something to offer
• Avoid social conversations

A conference call is not arranged for two people. Expect three or more participants. The conference call is therefore not for the personal use of any attendee. With the best technology, an effective moderator, and responsible attendees, the call can produce useful results. If properly managed, the call can actually encourage attendees to look forward to future conference calls.

A poor conference call wastes the time of all the participants. It is worse than two people conducting a less than fruitful conversation. The successful adoption of the roles of the moderator and attendees are important to the success. It is also true that poor quality conferencing equipment can hinder the conference call's success.