Tip o’ the Week #293 – STOP SHOUTING ON CONF CALLS


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Keeping track of the characters on conference calls could be a new type of buzzword bingo – from the people who stay muted the whole time (the only word they say being “bye”, at the end), to the unmuted furious typer/clicker/lunch eater/talker-to-somebody-else.

This brilliant spoof of conference calls in real life features most of them, but not the blast-radius shouter that is probably more of a nuisance to people physically sitting next to him/her than to others on the call. Sure beats real meetings, mind.

Thanks to Brett Johnson, for pointing out that there’s a feature in Windows that might help reduce the volume of the well-meaning noise pollutant, something known as Sidetone. Turns out, this has been in Windows for ages, if you have a headset that supports it.

clip_image004What Sidetone does is to play your own voice back into the audio stream you’re listening to, so if you have a headset that covers your ears entirely and blocks out background noise, you don’t completely isolate yourself and end up shouting to compensate.

To access the setting, plug in your headset then right-click on the volume icon in your system tray and select Playback devices to open the Sound settings applet, then  clip_image005double-click on your headset and look in the Levels tab.

Try it out and have a play with the levels, with a willing guinea pig: it’s a surprisingly subtle effect, but one that you won’t want to overdo.

Now, all we need to do is to build a Skype addin for meeting organisers to subvert the Sidetone on chosen attendees, to put a bit of a delay into the replay of their spoken voice, which could effectively deal with some of the other characters on the calls… and now we know how Garth from Wayne’s World achieved his effect.

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