Conference Phones 101
Here’s the full scoop on conference phones
Due to an increasingly busy workforce, in-person meetings less and less relevant. Paired with different time zones and expensive travel, phone conferences can be a great solution for reducing expenses related to travel and other company resources.
No matter the size of your business, conference phones help connect business owners and entrepreneurs for meetings.
You want to ensure you have a clear channel for communication. Accuracy in sound and minimal-to-no glitches are also to be included. There’s nothing worse than a long conference call where its participants are constantly being asked to repeat what they just said because of poor sound quality.
What else should you know before choosing a conference phone? How do you choose a conference phone?
Selecting a conference phone is no simple undertaking. You have a lot to consider when choosing the conference phone that will play a pivotal role in earning new business. The phone will, furthermore, allow you to maintain good relationships with current clients.
For this very reason, it is best to weigh the following before settling on a conference phone:
- Bandwidth, bandwidth, bandwidth
- Is there an echo or reverb?
- Size of the meeting space
- What about huddle rooms?
- Storage and recording
The display is another detail that should be worked out when purchasing a conference phone for your enterprise. When it comes to displays, a touchscreen is what to be on the hunt for. Some systems are so advanced, they display caller information and alert conference goers as to who is speaking during the call.
It used to be, that enterprises had conference phones that didn’t provide a concise sound quality. Now, things are changing for the better. This is thanks mostly to higher bandwidth, which translates to clearer calls.
If you have a phone conferencing system that facilitates video conferencing, you’ll need a lot of bandwidth to support a quality video conference. Depending on the number of simultaneous conference calls employees make, be aware of you may need to increase your bandwidth for a high-quality conference call.
- One call = 100 Kbps
- Up to three calls = 300 Kbps
- Up to five calls = 500 Kbps
- Up to ten calls = 1 MBps
Although bandwidth is solely based on your internet service provider, having this kind of awareness can lead to more productivity in meetings due to fewer miscommunications.
Why is this imperative?
Because conference phones use VoIP (internet service) to place calls.
Echo and reverb
The potential for echo is real, and so is reverb.
Depending on the space the conference phone is in, you will have (little-to-no) echo and or reverberation. There are many factors that go into a lot or a lack of reverb. This includes the physical space itself, the arrangement of the furniture, and the objects placed in the room.
Think about the logistics of the room’s layout and make your decision based on this. You can always try before you buy. Most conference phone vendors are happy to send an endpoint to test and some provide an expert for setup.
Don’t be swayed by the pressure to buy – only you know your customer’s needs and should take that into account during the trial process.
Size of the conference room
Regarding the size of the room, if you are concerned about hearing meeting attendees properly, you can look for a phone conferencing system with satellite microphones. Doing so will ensure everyone gets a voice, so to speak.
A key point when choosing additional mics is understanding that these mics are often directional and can erase excess noise if they are pointed in the right direction. As other concerns may arise, there could be a need to place a lapel microphone on upper management such as CEOs and VPs.
If you are dealing with a small meeting space, also known as huddle rooms – your teleconferencing needs should be addressed accordingly. A large conference room is, of course, the most comfortable space for meeting, but we recognize the need to acknowledge the spectrum of business size.
Huddle rooms are most conducive to smaller conference phones. The primary purpose of huddle rooms is for quick or sometimes impromptu meetings. The fact that huddle rooms are not large, does not mean they lack capacity.
In a single huddle room, usually designed for three-to-six people, you can have:
- A small table
- Web cameras
- A conference phone
- An interactive whiteboard
- Recording and storage
Some conference phones offer recording and internal storage, standard. Others, let you add more storage to keep track of precious phone conversations as needed.
Having the ability to record calls and to listen to them at a later date will serve your team well.
Just think about future training exercises on ‘how to close a deal.’ In this instance, having access to successfully run sales calls can be crucial in closing a deal with the best possible outcome.
There is a lot to think about when outfitting your office with a set of conference phones. The number of microphones, speakers, pickup range, touch screen capabilities, noise cancelation, and automatic muting when no one is speaking is all included in these considerations.
There are a few additional features that, while not necessary, can be useful to have access to. Some conference phones offer the option to use personal devices like smartphones and connect them using Bluetooth, apps, and near field communication technology.
360 voice coverage and HD voice audio are, too, offered by a number of vendors.
Learning the ins and outs of conference phones may seem overwhelming, but it is important if you want to choose the right hardware that sets up employees up for success. For our roundup of the top five conference phones, read our list of the best conference phones for 2019.