Five tips to improve conference call audio - Audio Media International

Five tips to improve conference call audio

Shure's Allison Dolegowski explains how to improve your conferencing audio quality.
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Often, when people think of sound in meetings, they think of crinkling candy wrappers and tapping fingers - distractions. Audio technology, however, is the most important element of a conference call. When used properly, it ensures that the right sounds are the focus of the call, not the distractions.

On conference calls, time is often wasted when people have to repeat themselves for participants who can’t hear well enough. By improving audio quality, companies can make sure that every person on a conference call is heard clearly, increasing efficiency and productivity.

Here are five tips for improving the audio quality of your conference calls.

1. Know the technology you’re using before you start the conference

There is nothing more embarrassing than starting a conference call only to realize you don’t know how to use your audio equipment. This can mean long delays, wasted time, dropped calls, or compromised audio.

Since conference calls are often opportunities to make good first impressions, it’s important that you can demonstrate competence and efficiency with your audio technology. Before using your conference room audio equipment for the first time, host a test run of all functions with a colleague.

2. Keep the ambient noise level low

Pick a room with solid walls where you can’t hear what’s happening next door. Avoid rooms with noisy HVAC systems or open windows. Don’t fidget with pens, papers, etc. on the table. All of these common background sounds make it harder for participants to hear the speaker.

Reducing ambient noise is particularly important for audio-only conferencing. Since remote participants can’t see you, they can easily be distracted by background noise with no visual context. A professional-sounding conference call has minimal ambient noise so that participants can stay focused on the speaker.

3. Make sure you have enough mics for everyone

Sharing microphones may seem cost-efficient, but it decreases audio quality. If you place one microphone between two participants, they often end up speaking into the sides, and conferencing microphones usually are not designed to pick up sound sources from the sides. Passing microphones back and forth wastes time and can result in picking up both handling noise and the ambient noises in their path.

4. Speak directly into the microphone

People tend to assume that if there’s a microphone anywhere in the room, it will pick up their voices clearly. Microphones designed to pick up speech are directional, however. That means that they pick up sound best from one direction: the front. Position the microphone directly in front of you, face it toward you and then speak directly into the front. This will give you crisp, clear sound.

5. Don’t focus so much on video that you forget about audio

When it comes to AV technology, it’s easy to focus on the video component and forget about audio. Audio has always been a part of conference calls, while video, for many, is still an exciting new trend. People frequently put a large portion of their budget into video technology and don’t leave enough for high-quality audio. If you need to ensure one element of your AV conference call technology will work reliably, choose the more essential part: the audio.

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