Can you hear me now? Unmute your microphone
I've been working remotely now, from home, for over half a decade. I work in my home office, from cafes, from my tethered mobile, basically anywhere I can be productive and not feel like a phony.
Here's the thing, though. I have to go to meetings, and I spend 15 minutes of those meetings waiting for YOU (yes, you, there) to unmute your mic, setup your cam, mess around with your internet, and generally waste the remote worker's (yes, me, here) time.
UPDATE: I'm putting this over on GitHub for you to improve! https://github.com/shanselman/howtounmute.com
So, as a customer service to the internet, I present.
That domain points directly to this post. Please, tell your friends family and clients.
Why not include http://howtounmute.com as a link in your meetings?
Is your mic muted?
See that circled icon? That's a muted microphone. Click to unmute.
In Lync, this means your phone and mic are turned off.
Click the left one to unmute! Click the right one to turn on your cam! You can also use the "Win+F4" global hotkey to unmute Lync.
Using Google Hangouts?
The unmute button is at the top of the hangout.
Click the little Settings Gear to select your microphone and speakers from within Google Hangouts.
Using Some Weird old Adobe Flash-based Web Conferencing Thing?
Seriously, stop. What's wrong with you? Then, right click on the box where the app is running and click Settings...
You can select your Microphone and see the bar move on the right, indicating it can hear you.
Wait, did you select the right microphone globally?
Most apps let you select microphones within the app. You can also set your preferred mic globally.
Which mic am I using? Right click on the little speaker near the clock and select "Recording Devices."
Some machines have more than one microphone. Windows lets you set a "Default Communications Device" for calls like Skype, and this is different from the "Default Device" for regular audio apps like Audacity. Right click to set your default.
PRO TIP: Tap your microphone (or where you think it is) to confirm where you THINK it is. Watch the green bars move.
Applications can also select their individual preferred microphone. Here's Tools | Options in Skype. See how I can select where I want my audio output to go? And where I want my input to come from?
Got a Mac?
That's cool. Type "Sound" into Spotlight and open your settings. Note you can see your input volume, your preferred input devices and preferred output device.
Got a physical phone?
There is VERY likely a microphone mute button on the phone. Familiarize yourself with the phone's buttons and try this one.
Maybe you have a headset? Does it have a mute button? Maybe you bumped it.
Call to AUDIBLE ACTION
If you take 5 to 10 minutes NOW to make sure you know how to select your microphone and umute yourself, you will save remote workers everywhere 15 minutes for every 1 hour meeting.
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Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.
And, when using Skype, make sure the AGC setting on your microphone is off, otherwise the microphone will remain completely inactive until something very loud happens. If people can't hear you when you answer a call until you clap your hands in front of the microphone, this will likely be your problem.
I was the master of my domain. I was a geek before the pocket protector became the defacto standard geek identification badge.
Now we have buttons. Buttons for everything. We have buttons coming out of button holes. And despite the standard icons for buttons, we have yet to master the damned mute button. Will humanity survive? I don't know.
Anyone got a mimeograph?
You know how your headset has a microphone right there next to your face? Yeah, it picked up that you scratched your beard and now so did everybody in the meeting.
You don't have a headset handy, so you're using the built in speakers & microphone on your laptop? Yeah, more than likely you're the person on the call causing the feedback/echo in the meeting because a lot of laptops are poorly designed for meetings. Especially if you're typing notes during the meeting...
You know that fan you have blowing on you cause it's hot at your desk? To everybody in the meeting it sounds like you're driving down the freeway in a convertible going at least 60 MPH.
So it's just as important to learn how to unmute yourself, but it's far more important how to learn to stay muted until you intend to talk as well as set up your environment so your microphone is only picking up you.
as always you are pointing out the fundamental things. Everyone wants to have online meetings, but noone seems to care to be "ready" when the meeting starts.
If the people would do physical meetings they wouldn't start to get a coffee, a pad and a pencil as soon as the meeting starts. That would be considered disrespectful.
I can't count the online meetings people are late to arrive to, start messing around with their microphone, yelling some last minute things to other people etc.
As Robert Slaney already pointed out it is also extremely important for people to keep the mics muted in loud and busy environments.
I'm not sure I've ever encountered someone who had an issue figuring out how to unmute - rather, that they didn't realise they were muted.
But people are CONSTANTLY unmuted, and it eats well into 15-20 minutes of an hour-long meeting waiting for an unknown person's dog to stop barking, for the garbagemen to go by, for the truck to pass their car, for them to get out of the tunnel, etc.
no: enable cam,
can you hear your self?
no:turn volume up on headset and laptop,
still no joy then unmute in this order: headset,
no: unmute application (including checking the volume slider in some clients, one softphone i use doesnt indicate on the gui that audio is muted if the slider is all the way to the left 0_o)
no: check sound settings,
still no?, unplug headset and if it works then put in an order for a new headset/raise issue with support desk
I have wanted so badly to walk out of demos and sprint retrospective before plainly due to the fact that the presenter was still getting everything ready for the first 15 minutes of a meeting. Getting the service desk to trouble sheet the web conference or opening all his windows on the laptop or even waiting on the laptop to install updates.
If you have a meeting, be prepared.
If it is web be online and ready to rock. If it is in person have your stuff together and hit the ground running.
If you are presenting get there early and get everything turned on.
Check your equipment early in the day to make sure its ready and working.
The golden rule of meetings. Don't waste other peoples time.
Time is valuable to us all and you cant give it back. If I have to watch you fumble through your unpreparedness then you are stealing my time with your incompetence.
People also struggles with windows live meeting that also you can add here..
1) Add an index.
2) Add a section showing how to test it.
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I patiently wait (lurk?) for someone to ask.