- Use a headset
When either joining or hosting a conference call remotely, it’s better to use a headset than to use your standard telephone microphone. If you are using a USB headset, connected to your computer and you’re using VOIP for the call, check your preferences. Tap on your microphone (before the call) and watch the meters bounce. Although Bluetooth headsets are amazingly convenient, their technology is still not superior to most headsets that are hard wired to your device.
No cell phones
If at all possible, avoid joining a remote meeting via cell phone. Cell phones have made calling from anywhere second nature, but the sound quality from even the best cell phone is far below that of a land line. Even Voice over IP is sometimes better than cellphone service.
- If your cellphone is your only choice…
If your cell phone is your only choice then the largest determining factor for quality audio, will be location. Calling from a quiet room, with minimal background noise and a good cellular signal helps. Calling from a moving vehicle, outdoors or from a public place should be avoided at all costs. If you must call while on the move, be sure to press *6 (star-six) to mute your line. You can also use a noise cancelling headset in order to hear the speaker more clearly.
Use the mute
Mute yourself when you are not talking. There are dozens of things that can happen to disturb the call when you least expect it. Your cat meows; your cell phone rings; or maybe your kid walks up to the home office and announces a dirty diaper. Control your mute button and you’ll be doing everyone else a favor.
- Pump up the volume
Your phone's default volume setting is probably less than optimal for making and taking calls in noisy situations, such as when you're outdoors. Make sure you are turning up the volume, not speaker sound, on your cell phone. This is usually found under settings on your device. If privacy isn't a concern, you can even switch to speaker phone during the call. Be sure to keep yourself muted and use the speaker phone only to listen and not to speak or else the microphone will pick up all of the ambient noise and transmit it to your call.
Plugging in is always better. Whether you’re using plug in headset or plugging into an Ethernet port, hard-wired is always better. Sure Wi-Fi is fast, but it’s not bandwidth that kills you on internet calls, its latency. When there is too much latency, people end up talking over each other because they don’t hear right away when someone else begins to talk. Hard-wired Ethernet lines have less than half the latency as the best Wi-Fi networks.
- Hands off
Don’t touch the mic when it’s hot. Handling noise is very disruptive. If you need to move a mic or adjust a headset, mute it first, move it, then unmute it.
- Noises off
Turn off background music and other noise. Even if you think it’s not too loud, it will cause difficulties hearing on both ends.
- Don’t double dip
Don’t open up two connections to the same call in the same room. This causes a very unstable feedback situation that will quickly have everyone’s speakers screeching. The one exception to the no double dipping rule is if you both have headsets.
- Stop the pop
Get close, but not too close to the microphone. When the mic is too close, your "p’s" and your "b’s" (consonants called plosives) cause a very undesirable popping sound that can actually damage speakers or someone’s ears. Headsets should sit off to the side of your mouth, not right in front of it for this reason. If your microphone has a foam windscreen, use it, even indoors. Here is a good test: Hold your hand where your microphone is and say "pop." If you can feel your breath, the mic is too close.
- Pad the room
Do what you can in your room to soften the surfaces. If it is soft to the touch, then it is good for absorbing sound. Carpet, drapes, drop ceilings, even large plants with many leaves reduce ambient sound and echo and make you easier to understand.
- Is there an Echo? Echo, Echo, Echo….
Echo happens when someone on the remote end says something, the audio comes out of your speakers, back into your microphone, and back down the line to the other end. The result is that the remote speaker hears his or her own voice again. Often, the person that does not hear the echo is the person that is causing the disturbance, making it’s nearly impossible to keep talking in this situation. Our conferencing systems and software have some echo cancellation built in but in large calls, the system can be pushed to its limit. You can help the system out by getting the microphone as far away from the sound system speakers as possible and by not moving the microphone once the call has begun.
- Clippings, eweeee gross.
Some phones types will produce what is called "clipping" if they are making any noise while trying to listen to another participant. Clipping cuts off a portion of the sentence. In other words, the conferencing phone device, no matter how much it costs, will be very sensitive to sounds in general and cannot distinguish between a rustling of papers, a cross conversation in the background or regular speech. Again, the best solution to avoid annoying clippings is to mute your line when you’re not speaking.
- Buzzing. Where’s that annoying bee...
Mobile and cordless phones can pick up static. Using a land line will essentially eliminate this problem. Also, the same *6 common used cancel clippings and echoes, can be used to mute unwanted static from being transferred to your call.
- Check the settings
According to Mike Gikas Consumer Reports, some Android phones, such as those made by Samsung, LG, and Sony, let you fiddle with voice-quality settings in the main settings menu. On late-model Samsung Galaxy phones, for example, these menu items are called Noise Reduction and Personal Call settings. On LG phones, there's a Personalize Call Settings tab.
Sony Xperia Z phones do something a little more interesting: Their Slow Talk setting literally puts more of a delay between each word spoken by the person to whom you're speaking. It seems like a great way to manage the rapid-fire repartee of a would-be auctioneer. It's not clear if these settings actually make calls sound "better," but they alter the sound coming from the phone's earpiece.
- We all know HD Televisions but HD audio voice?
Wireless carriers are rolling out new "HD Voice" technology to improve the quality of grainy cell-phone calls. Instead of limiting a call frequency to between 300 Hz and 3.4 kHz, a wideband audio call transmits at a range of 50 Hz to 7 kHz, or higher which is much closer to the 75Hz to 14kHz human voice. It's already available in most cities, and should go nationwide very soon.
- Try and Try again
If all fails, Hang up and dial back into the conference call. Many times these problems clear themselves up when the local bad connection is terminated. However you should try the other points mentioned above first.