Participating in a group audio conference for the first time?
Here's what you need to know to ensure a successful group conference call.
Group Audio Conference Attendance
First, you'll need to know what time, in local time, you want everyone to call into your group conference call. It's common these days for group calls to include international guests.
The call's start time might be expressed in GMT, UTC, or the host's own time zone. Even domestic calls can involve multiple time zones.
A time zone map can assist to convert the time to local time to make sure that you know exactly when to dial in.
Next, you'll need to know how to join the group audio conference.
The call's chairperson will send you the phone number along with a PIN or access code.
If the call is an international group conference call, you'll be issued a phone number that is local to your country. From there, your call will be routed to the main group audio conference.
You'll be prompted to enter the PIN or access code. Once confirmed, you will be connected to the group.
Greeting the Group
Depending on how the group audio conference is set up, an automated voice might announce that you have entered the room.
If not, you could briefly announce your arrival. In either case, you should be able to hear the moderator or music leading up to the start time.
Muting and Unmuting Your Phone
Imagine a group audio conference with 100 participants, each with an unmuted phone.
The background noise would be unbearable! Do your part by muting your phone until called upon to speak.
If you have a mute button on your phone, use it. If not, most group audio conferences support keypad muting and unmuting (usually *6).
Speaking During a Group Audio Conference
Whether you've been asked to give a presentation during the conference call or have a question during the Q&A portion, advance conference call services allow your group members to speak slowly and clearly.
If it's an international group conference call, this becomes especially important as second language listeners may have trouble. In addition, other participants may be taking notes. Repeat important information such as phone numbers and URLs.
Participating in a Group Audio Conference
Though no one will know if you call in from home in your pajamas, your full participation is expected.
This is not really the time for multitasking even though it's easy to be driving and talk on a cell phone.
It's a good idea to have some way to take notes and conference call services are intended to help you give the group call your complete attention.
Listening to Recorded Group Conference Calls
Many teleconference moderators record group audio conferences and then distribute them for later listening.
These calls typically arrive as MP3 files which can be listened to on a variety of devices including computers, tablets, smartphones, and MP3 players.
Some conference hosts post the recorded teleconference on their website and will send you a link.
As with any other potentially sensitive or confidential information, use care to ensure that only those authorized to hear the call have access to the recording. However if the information is not sensitive, many customers use the MP3 as a marketing tool on a website without any restrictions.
An advantage of listening to a conference after the fact is that you can take notes at your leisure instead of trying to capture everything as it happens.
Participating in a group audio conference is straight forward and easy even with international participants.
The moderator typically sends the guests the date and time to dial-in including their access number and a PIN.
All you need to do as the moderator is dial-in on that date and time, enter your chairperson PIN and meet your international or domestic teleconference guests in your conference room.
The Toll Free International Conference Call
With international conference calls, one person can join many people in various locations worldwide.
International businesses that are customer and vendor centric, must use powerful global telecommunication services. Global conference calling is the one service that engages many geographical locations all on the same call.
All participants are provided a dedicated local access number to join the conference call and these access numbers are located in over 100 countries.
The communications challenge
It can be a daunting task to find global communication services that are both economic and feature rich. VoIP communication services have become even more popular than the telephone for online collaboration. Of course, video conference users must view a device screen to participate as opposed to using only a telephone.
There are many features that attendees can enjoy while on a web conference. For example, document sharing, video images, white board, private chat, included free audio and many other applications.
Do you know who's attending your conference calls?
You should, but it's not unheard of for uninvited attendees to find their way in.
Name Announce Feature
One way to make it more difficult for someone to infiltrate you conference call meeting is to enable the ‘name announce’ feature. The option will prompt the attendee to say their name before they can enter the call. And their name would then be broadcast to everyone on the call. This is not 100% foolproof but would help mitigate someone intent on intruding on your call. Hopefully someone in your regular calls would be able to match up the voice with the name.
Use the online Live Meeting Viewer
If the call is sensitive and you know the phone numbers of your participants, you can use the caller ID list of the online call viewer that’s included with our plans. This enables the host of the call to see who is actually on the call, in real time. Any unknown caller ID’s could be easily spotted and terminated from the call quickly. The residual of this is that you would know the caller ID of whomever tried to enter your call.
For example, if you have a recurring conference call in the same virtual conference room with the same access and PIN numbers each week, it's conceivable that an attendee who's no longer welcome (such as a terminated employee now working for a competitor) could listen in. Use these steps to secure your conference calls.
Determine the Confidentiality Level of Your Conference
What will you be discussing? The confidentiality level of the call can serve as a baseline for how much security you should implement. For instance, if you're merely coordinating a tailgate party for the staff, your call won't need to be nearly as secure as a call discussing an upcoming merger.
Use Session-specific Access Numbers and PINs
The best way to secure a call is to use a session-specific access number and PIN. Since these won't be reused, you don't have to worry about participants listening in on future conference calls - because they won't have access to future calls. At the very least, you'll want to change access numbers and PINs whenever someone leaves the company.
Review Participant Lists Frequently
If you host recurring conference calls, make sure to review your participant lists frequently. Do these same participants still need to attend the conference call? Have any left the company? Have any of their roles changed? As you pare down the list, make sure to change access and PIN numbers.
Use the service options in the Web Interface, Roll Call Feature, or Online Conference Call Viewing Tool
Most teleconferencing service providers offer some sort of a Web interface, roll call feature, or online conference call viewer where you can quickly see a list of all attendees currently on the call. Refer to it before and throughout the call to ensure that you know exactly who's listening in. If a caller joins the conference call mid-meeting, you should hear a chime or an announcement alerting you to the new attendee. Pay attention and find out who just joined the call.
Review Your Call Summary Reports
If your provider generates a call summary report, refer to that after the call. If you used the online conference call viewer or other roll call feature during the call, the call summary's results shouldn't come as a surprise. However, if you were so involved in the call that you didn't have a chance to fully pay attention to the roll call, the call summary report will provide you with a complete list of all attendees.
Use the Conference Lock Feature
Once everyone is on the call and attendance has been verified, use the conference lock feature to lock anyone else out. Once the call is locked, no one else can join the call, even if they have the correct access number and PIN. Knowing that you regularly lock your calls will also help to encourage participants to be on time for future conference calls.
Use the Operator to Manually Connect Participants
Another option for securing conference calls is to give the operator a list of participants and have the operator manually connect them to the call. This can be time-consuming, but it ensures that only those who you've authorized to join the call will be allowed to enter it. Some conference calling service providers have an automated dial out tool you can use to preprogram dial out.
Use Moderator Dial Out, Especially for Guests
The moderator dial out option is a great way to bring participants into the call. This is similar to the operator dial out, except the moderator of the call initiates the dial out. If you have a few guests, using moderator dial out is a good way to connect them without having to reveal your call's access number or PIN.
Don't Hold Back-to-Back Conference Calls in the Same Conference Call Room
Did you know that if you use the same conference call room for two meetings in a row, it's possible for participants of either meeting to listen in to the other meeting? For example, if a participant from the first meeting doesn't hang up, that participant will still be present for the second meeting. Likewise, if a participant from the second call dials in a few minutes early, which is common, he or she will be joined to your current conference call. Again, pay attention to your roll call or live conference call viewer so that you know at any given time who's listening in.
If you must host back-to-back conference calls, use different conference rooms for each call.
Secure Your Conference Recordings
The ability to record and share your conference calls adds convenience, but may also pose a security concern if your conference call was highly confidential in nature. If you'll be recording the conference call, carefully consider who you share the recording with - if you share it all.
If you do share the recording, consider hosting the recording on a password-protected site, preferably one with a history tracking feature, so that only those with appropriate credentials can access the recording. You should also consider restricting downloads of the recording as well as making the recording available for a specific time only.
End the Call When the Moderator Exits
If your conference calling plan supports it, enable the option for ending the call when the moderator of the call hangs up. Once the moderator hangs up, all other attendees will automatically be disconnected from the call.
Just as you'd restrict access and find out who's physically present at a face-to-face meeting before you begin discussing confidential matters, the same is true of holding conference calls. Though you may not be able to lock the door or visually see each attendee in a teleconference room, modern conference call services include useful tools that allow you to limit access to the conference call and display who's in attendance.