A couple months ago I participated in a web meeting with over 100 people. There was a big problem.
The noise on the call was a terrible distraction. You could hear background noise from some of the people on the call.
You also heard every announcement beep when a new person joined the call. And with that many people on the line, that meant a whole lot of beeping.
The call leader’s solution was to repeatedly ask people to put their phones on mute. She even told us how to do it. Most did, but not all.
And the call continued. BEEP. <laughing> BEEP. BEEP. <typing noise>. This was regularly interspersed with the call leader imploring people to mute their lines.
The part that I found most frustrating was that the same thing happened on a previous call. I was surprised she didn’t solve the problem after it happened the first time.
Here’s the thing I couldn’t figure out. Why didn’t she just kill the noise through the admin controls? Some even suggested it during the call. It was a “listen-only” meeting, so there was no need for callers to have the ability to speak during most of the call, and she could have easily opened up the lines for those times when she wanted two-way interaction.
I thought maybe she was using some cheapo conferencing service that didn’t offer that option, although I had never ran across one that didn’t.
Know Your Technology
A couple days later I decided to look up the service she was using. The online reference manual online included this page.
Right below the mute controls was a button to turn off the entry and exit tones.
Help Others Learn the Technology
Here’s the note I sent as a follow-up:
After noticing the troubles you’ve had on the last two conference calls, I have two suggestions. First turn off the entry and exit tones. It’s a distraction as people join the call when it’s in progress. *8 allows you to toggle them on and off.
Second, mute all callers using *5. If you have others who are presenting, they can then unmute their lines using *6.
This is all contained in the reference guide.
Technology can be a huge enabler when working virtually, but you need to know how to use it.