How Audio Controls for Conferencing Operate

By Sheila Shanker
Updated: August 22, 2011

Conferences have become common events with many businesses and are no longer perceived as being odd or rare situations. The popularity of video and audio conferencing has followed developments in technology that improved quality dramatically throughout the years. The costs of purchasing and maintaining a video conference equipment also decreased, allowing for small to medium-size businesses to take advantage of this new technology.

To be effective, a business video conference should have very good video and audio quality and controls. Audio controls include the ability to monitor volume, use the mute function and manage "listen on or off" feature, which allows for certain participants to hear only the conference proceedings.

The ways audio controls for conferencing operate vary with equipment and service, but usually most controls are easy to operate and manage. Many systems, such as WebEx, let you manage audio processes from screens in your computer, where you can also use attendance controls. This system allows you to identify the current speaker by a flashing phone icon. WebEx uses a unified participant list, which reduces confusion and maintains focus by muting and un-muting participants from the "meeting environment" screen in your computer.

The WebEx audio system offers audio access to host meetings from any phone at any time, on the fly. It also lets you select multiple audio options from troll, toll-free, callback, audio broadcast or integrated VoIP. You could have audio only meetings using this setup.

Another video conferencing system, Nefsis, is host based, requiring a host/person to play videos and manage audio, which can be done from a computer by clicking on the “Audio Control” tab within the video application. You have three options:

Host Controlled- Standard setting requiring a host to manually un-mute the audio.
Always On for Host and Presenters - Host manually un-mutes any participant’s audio, while hosts and presenters are on all the time.
Always On for Everyone—All audio is un-muted.

If your conference involves just a few individuals, you could probably use your phone, such as 3-way conference calls. As far as audio controls are concerned, you’re limited by your phone features, but many systems allow you to control volume and may offer you other audio services to facilitate such meetings.

As you conduct video or audio conferences, become familiar with all the features available to you, so that your meetings are effective and productive. If your needs are complex, you may choose to use a hosted conference environment, where audio and other equipment are owned and managed by a third party.

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