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Voice conference

MeetingSphere provides a voice conference to which users can connect over the Internet or by phone. The voice conference differs from most such conferences

  • by protecting the confidentiality of the call with unique personal PINs
  • by offering the full set of call controls to users connecting by phone
  • allowing up to 100 users to connect at no extra charge
  • offering 'Push to talk' by which muted users can unmute themselves without Leader intervention

Control of the conference rests with the Leader. Participants control their connection within the rules set by the Leader.

Enabling the voice conferencing service

By default, the voice conferencing service is enabled for any new meeting. Leaders find the switch for turning the voice service off in the

The voice service should be disabled for two reasons:

  1. The meeting does not require voice because it runs over an extended period of time in which participants contribute independently. In such a situation, the various dialogues associated with a voice conference would be a nuisance.
  2. You use a different system for voice and screen sharing. In this case, you would communicate the access info for that conference in MeetingSphere's Meeting instruction or the access info for MeetingSphere through that other system.  

Connecting to the conference

The actual conference - as opposed to the mere availability of the voice conferencing service - is triggered when the Leader is joined by a participant in the meeting.

Leaders are informed of this quorum when they open the meeting for participants.

Participants who enter the meeting in the absence of the Leader are informed that the conference will be triggered when the Leader returns to the meeting.

When the Leader is joined by a participant or vice versa, the 'Connect to conference' dialogue is triggered. Users can choose to

      Connect over the Internet, or

     Dial in by phone 

To connect by phone, participants select a dial-in number and, on connecting, enter the unique 6-digit personal identifier which identifies the conference and authenticates the participant. The unique identifier is created and presented just-in-time via the connection dialogue.

The dial-in dialogue closes automatically when the connection to the conference is established.  

There are no conferencing charges. However, depending on their plan, telephone providers may charge participants for connecting to the access number. MeetingSphere provides a very large and growing set of 'land-line' numbers in all but the remotest geographies.

Leader's conference controls

Leaders control the voice conference via the 'Participants in the meeting' panel  which opens from the bottom status bar.

The panel lists participants and shows their connection status. Leaders can mute participants in two ways:

  • Individually
    Leaders mute individuals with the switch behind their name. This way, Leaders can cut out background noise fast.

    Note that

    • Individually muted users are free to unmute their microphone (or telephone) with the personal conference controls of the status bar, see below.
    • While Leaders can mute participants directly, 'unmute' by the Leader does not directly unmute them. It merely triggers a dialogue asking that participant to unmute their microphone or telephone. Unless participants confirm that dialogue, they stay muted.
  • Collectively - Push-to-talk
    Leaders mute all participants - except the Leader and, if so, anyone sharing their screen - with switch 'Enable push-to-talk' which sits near the top of the 'Participants in the meeting' panel.

    Collective muting differs from individual muting, which Leaders could do for all participants, in switching the very mode of the conference. On enabling 'Push-to-talk', all participants - except the Leader and anyone sharing screen - is muted. The microphone iconwith mute/unmute switch of the personal voice control group are replaced by the 'Push-to-talk' button .
       
    To unmute, participants must click and hold the 'Push-to-talk' button. Release of the button mutes their microphone (or phone) after a 10-second count down. This works roughly similar to old-school walkie-talkies. It differs in that one person speaking does not block others from doing so.

    'Push-to-talk' introduces a very brief delay before a participant's line is cleared for her or him to speak. However, this is much faster than the alternative of participants raising their hand in the hope of being unmuted by the Leader.

    The conference is switched to 'push-to-talk' automatically when there are 10 or more participants in the meeting. 

Personal conference controls

Once connected, users control their access to the voice conference with the group of voice controls that sits on the left of the bottom status bar. Personal voice controls are identical for Leaders and participants except for Leaders never being subject to 'Push-to-talk'.

Hang up to reconnect

Ends, on confirmation, the connection and calls the 'Connect to conference' dialogue.

Mute / unmute switch

In regular (not push-to-talk) conferencing mode, users can mute and unmute their microphone with this switch. The microphone icon indicates the volume picked up by the microphone.

The mute / unmute switch is hidden when the conference is switched to 'Push-to-talk' mode.

Push-to-talk button

In 'Push-to-talk' mode, the microphones (or phones) of participants are muted. The mute/unmute microphone-with-switch control of participants is replaced by the 'Push-to-talk' button.

To speak, users must press and hold this button.

Release of the button starts a 10-second countdown, after which the microphone (or phone) is muted again automatically.