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November 14, 2006 in Conferencing Tips
With the ease of creating, modifying and sharing audio files we see a steady rise in 2 key metrics: 1) requests for audio conference call recordings and 2) grassroots radio show hosts using our podcast services. Here are some tips that will help any and all customers create the highest quality conference call for any audience, regardless of their comfort with audio technology or their plans to distribute their recordings.
GARBAGE IN = GARBAGE OUT. A quality conference call and recording starts with the live call. If the volume and sound quality on the live call is poor, the volume and sound quality in both the original recording and the output file will be poor as well.
Example: A customer of ours once used our service to record an interview with a prominent blogger. After he listened to the recording, he complained about the quality of his guest's portion of the call. We agreed: it was lousy. But after listening to it several times we discovered the problem. The guest used his cellphone while driving down the interstate with his windows down...in morning traffic...in a major city. We were able to remove the traffic noise using editing software. But...it's much more soothing to ask your speakers, including yourself, to call from a quiet location.
Solution: Dave Evans at HearThis recommends calling from inside your car with the windows rolled up tight while it's in your garage and not running. Dave should know. His whole business is creating professional and powerful podcasts.
TIP #1: USE THE BEST EQUIPMENT
Landlines. We recommend land-lines. That's your everyday phone line connected to the wall outlet.
No speaker phones. Speaker phones pick up all ambient background sounds and there is usually an echo from various sources. As a host we encourage you to avoid them. Encourage your guests to avoid using them to join your call.
No VOIP. VOIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) clips the high and low end of the voice signal. Also, you are extremely susceptible to clicks and pops when the digital signal is converted to analog. Also, with VOIP, you'll be unable to use DTMF (tone signals) from your telephone's touchpad to mute your line or the lines of your callers. Why? VOIP doesn't transmit DTMF tones as your land-line or cellphone does.
No cell phones. The tiny microphone picks up higher frequency background noises. While you may not hear the noises during the live call, the recording picks up and records every sound coming in. (An example of this is the microphone picking up wind sounds while standing outside or driving in a car with the window open.)
Headsets. We have experimented with some headsets and found them to be acceptable if you keep the microphone away from being directly in front of your mouth. This helps to cut down on the microphone picking up your breath, as well as the hard t’s and p’s in your speech.
TIP #2: CONTROL YOUR ENVIRONMENT.
Don't put the conference call on hold. Everyone on the call will be forced to listen to your phone system's hold music/messages. Remind your callers to mute their individual lines or use the host feature to MUTE ALL. Unless you've muted your individual line or the host has muted the lines for all callers, you'll force the other callers to hear your hold music/messages when you put the conference call on hold...just for a minute.
Barking dogs, baby's crying, check-out line chatter. That's all heard on a conference call. Mute your line or find a quiet, private place from where you can join the call. The better the sound quality on the live call, the better the sound quality will be in the end product of the call recording.
Mute all lines to start. For a call recording created live from a conference call attended by more than you and a guest speaker (If that's different), we recommend muting the guests' lines to start. You can unmute them at the end of the recording if you desire. You want their input. But you want it at the right time.
Deactivate audible tones on entry and exit. Tones are often heard when callers arrive and depart a conference call. Customer Service can change this feature for you. Contact our Customer Service office at 877-227-0611, ext. 3 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org before the call. Deactivate this feature before your conference call where you plan to record your presentation live. You can't control when they arrive; Inevitably people arrive late to a conference call. You can lock the conference call prior to the start of your presentation. That's a very effective manner to prevent interruptions from late arrivals. But...you also risk alienating them for suffering under elements not in their control.
Use the operator. Use them in the event a caller's line remains a distraction or a function isn't performing as it should. Follow the instructions included with your confirmation note we sent at the initiation of your service. Or call Customer Service at 877-227-0611, ext. 3 or email them at email@example.com.
TIP #3: WHAT YOU, THE HOST, SHOULD DO.
Speak clearly and slowly. When presenting, speak a bit slower than you normally would to ensure that your attendees can hear and understand you and that the call recording is consistently clear and crisp.
Be still when you speak. Your 2nd grade teacher's maxim remains true: Be still when you're speaking. Your attendees will hear most every noise you make.
That means that noise will be recorded! Rustling papers, opening/shutting drawers, yawning (belching!), swearing...they'll all be heard. That means they'll also be recorded.
Wrap up at the end of the call. At the end of the call, make sure you summarize the content of the call, when the recording will be available, how your audience can access it, and when your next conference call is scheduled. Some do this as part of their recording; Some don't. It's a personal choice. But regardless, help your audience by reminding them. And remind them on the follow-up email you'll send them.
Let us know what else we can do. We have the skills and personnel create your recording using the media that allows for the greatest and easiest access and distribution for your audience. Next month, we'll share some tips on how to create the highest quality recording with our web conference services.