There are numerous challenges associated with a host wanting to monitor and control various aspects of the conference, especially as the number of participants grows. It’s critical for the host to know who is talking in real-time and it’s often impossible to recognize each participant by voice. Plus, a host may want to mute some or all of the participants, especially if music or background noise becomes disruptive. Productivity tools such as hand-raising, polling and break-out rooms can streamline interaction and drive quicker conclusions, thereby increasing the efficiency of your business calls.
The ZipDX online dashboard, accessible from any web browser, presents a continuously updated, real-time display of the conference status and provides a suite of controls. The dashboard shows:
- Identity of each participant
- Participants joining or leaving the conference
- Current talker(s)
- Hand raised or lowered
- Mute status
- Vote value and vote tally summary
- Break-out room details
- Host status and display of who’s connected in wideband
In addition, the dashboard allows users control of these parameters. Individual participants can use the dashboard to affect their own settings, while a host can manipulate all parties in the conference, grant host status to others and mute and disconnect individual callers.
The host can also dial out to bring new participants into the conference while the call is already in progress.
Use this Feature
You can explore the dashboard with your mouse. If you hover the mouse over the icons and buttons, you’ll see a pop-up with an explanation of each function. Click on a function to toggle it or reveal a drop-down menu from which a selection can be made.
Here’s some more insight into what’s available on the dashboard:
Who’s Talking: In the Activity Box, you can see all the participants currently talking, joining, or exiting the conference. A distinction is made between current talkers and recent talkers. This feature lets you immediately identify who is talking and who is making unwanted noises that can be muted.
Hand-Raising: Participants can raise their hands by clicking on their row in the dashboard to display a participant menu, or by pressing *1 on their phone. The hand icon illuminates when a hand is raised. The dashboard controls can also lower hands.
Muting Individuals: If a participant is in a crowded area, background noise (such as public address announcements or traffic sounds) can disrupt the entire conference. A participant can mute himself, and a host can mute any participant. Just click on the participants name in either the main participant list or the Activity Box and select “Soft Mute”. Only that participant will hear the message: “Now muted; press Star 6 to unmute. ” This allows the host to silence the offender without disrupting the entire conference. You can also “hard mute” a participant; in this case, they will not be able to unmute themselves.
Muting All: The host can mute all of the conference participants using the controls at the top of the dashboard. Note that other hosts cannot be hard-muted.
Voting: Participants can cast votes by dialing *2X, where X is the vote value (for example, vote 1 if you agree with the proposal, 2 if you disagree and 3 for undecided). The dashboard displays the individual votes and also tallies them at the top of the window. Participants can cast their own votes using the dashboard instead of the keypad, if desired. Hosts can reset the vote values using the dashboard; when you do this, you will be asked for a label that will be attached to the vote tally when it appears in the call summary e-mail.
Break-Out Rooms: Each conference call has nine available break-out rooms; these are separate conference rooms where participants can have parallel or private conversations. The host can move participants into the rooms by clicking them in the list. Participants can also move themselves to other rooms via the dashboard or by dialing *4X (where X is the assigned room number). The host can recall groups back to the main conference (room 0) using the Rooms control at the top of the dashboard. Note that the “talking” indication and various other dashboard features are disabled when participants are in break-out rooms.
Host Designation and Disconnect: As a host, if you click on a participant in the dashboard, you can control their host status or disconnect them. Once you designate another host (evident by the badge icon next to their name), that person can use the dashboard to manipulate the other participants’ status. When someone disconnects from the call, either by hanging up or because they have been disconnected via the dashboard, their row will go dark before disappearing, to confirm the disconnection. You can also change the name associated with a participant, and you can cause their recorded name to be played over your phone.
Dial-Out: During a conference call, the host can dial out directly to any phone in the world to add additional participants. Simply click the dial-out button at the top of the dashboard and enter a phone number. If you do it this way, all conference members will hear ringing. Note that if you want to speak to the new party before making them part of the conference, you can first move to a break-out room before dialing. When the person answers and joins the call, a new participant row will appear in the dashboard. The host can also dial out using the telephone keypad: dial *98 followed by 1, area code and number (or 011, country code and number) and then #. If you get voice-mail or want to disconnect, dial *991 from your telephone to disconnect the last call you dialed. From the dashboard, choose “Dial-Out” and then “Disconnect last call. ”
Notes: This list covers the most popular dashboard features. Explore the tool to see additional capabilities. Hosts can restrict or even completely disable participant access to the dashboard in the “Features” section of each conference or conference template.
The dashboard functionality is also available right on the display of several Polycom telephones.
Many of the control features are also available from the telephone keypad via “*” codes; view the entire Keypad Reference online.