In addition to using video for every day team meetings, staff meetings, etc, Polycom employees regularly complete training over video and we can have 200+ sites in a call. With that many participants, someone has invariably forgot to mute their microphone, for has put the call on hold (with music on hold) or otherwise does something that inadvertently disturbs the call.
Rather than just asking everyone over and over again to mute their line, we utilize the features of the Polycom RMX in a properly configured conference.
First, the meeting needs to be optimized to support a large conference. In addition to your standard conference definition on the RMX,
Enable continuous presence (or lecture mode, as appropriate.)
Limit the line rate to 1mb (for large calls, everyone will have a continuous presence layout and you should typically sufficient)
Disable entry/exit tones, disable roll call
Assign a a chairperson password. Participant passwords are optional.
Second, make sure that the Conference IVR Service you're using for the meeting has a value for the option "Override Mute All". This is option is undefined by default. Common values are #22 and #66, but it doesn't matter as long as it's defined for your environment, keep it consistent, and share it with the conference chairpeople. To do this, using the RMX Manager, look under <Rarely Used>, <IVR Services>, <Conference IVR Services (or whichever IVR service you're using)>, <DTMF Codes>. Scroll until you find the Option for <Override Mute All>, and enter #22 (or your choice of unique values).
Finally, at the time of the call, ensure that all scheduled speakers connect to the call using the chairperson password. This identifies them to the RMX as a chairperson.
If there is a disturbance from the audience (like someone plays music on hold), then any chairperson can can press *5 with his/her remote control, touchpanel, or telephone (if on audio). This will mute all on the line (or in this case, it this will mute all participants on the line except for the chairpeople) restoring silence on and allowing the call to continue
At this point if someone on the line who's not a chairperson wants to comment or unmute he can press the DTMF to unmute. This is whatever you set above, (#22 or #66 typically). This will allow an individual user to to override the mute all feature. Be sure you communicate this unmute code to the end users.
At any time the chairperson can #5 to unmute/open everyone's line to allow open Q&A, for example.
Have any other tips or tricks for managing large conferences? Please share!
Thanks to Nathan.Goldstein@Polycom.com for the framework for this post