Inside Microsoft Office 365: Audio Conferencing | Information Technology | University of Pittsburgh
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Inside Microsoft Office 365: Audio Conferencing

With the new A5 Microsoft Office 365 license, Pitt faculty and staff have access to a variety of programs that go way beyond Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook. The Inside Microsoft Office 365 series from Pitt IT gives you a glance into some of the great productivity tools that are at your fingertips.

Meeting without a Room

It’s not always easy to get everyone together in the same room, even if a meeting space is open when all the participants are available. Pittsburgh weather and steep hills can make walking across campus difficult. You might be meeting with people who don’t work for the University or with colleagues who work remotely.

With modern technology, none of these issues need to complicate meetings. Schedule a tele-meeting, and voilà—problem solved. With Microsoft Office 365 Audio Conferencing, arranging a call-in meeting using either Skype for Business or Teams is easy.

The Outlook Is Bright

Screen capture of the buttons to click when scheduling an audio conference through OutlookWhether you use Skype or Teams, scheduling an audio conference through Outlook is easy. Just go to the calendar tab and click on the New Skype Meeting or New Teams Meeting button. 

The same buttons also exist inside the New Meeting page, if you decide to add the audio conference component after creating a standard meeting.

The local and toll-free phone numbers, conference ID and a link to join the meeting online are all automatically entered into the body of the email. (You should only use the toll-free number if you are dialing from a phone that charges long distance for calls to the 412 area code. There is no charge to dial into this number from a Pitt phone.)

On the day of the meeting, participants just dial the listed number and enter the conference ID, followed by the pound (#) symbol. Alternatively, participants can click to join the meeting online. As the meeting organizer, you’ll also have to enter your PIN number if you join by phone. If you join via the Skype or Teams app, the audio conference will automatically start.

Put a PIN in It

When Audio Conferencing was first launched, everyone received an automated email from Microsoft with their PIN. Many of us then promptly forgot it. No big deal. Only the meeting organizer needs their PIN, and only if everyone is dialing in as audio-only rather than connecting online. 

If you need your PIN but can’t recall it, just click on Reset PIN (from a Teams invite) or Forgot your dial-in PIN?(from a Skype for Business invite) to get it. As a meeting organizer, you should retrieve/reset your PIN in advance, so as not to delay the start of the meeting.

Audio Conference Pro Tips

Here are some tips for making your audio conference productive and efficient:

  • Additional local dial-in numbers are available through the Local Numbers link in the body of the invitation. Calling from Chicago? There’s a local dial-in number for that!
  • Sit in an area with low ambient noise; use a headset with a microphone if possible.
  • Meeting organizers should arrive at least 5 minutes early, so people aren’t put on hold.
  • Remind people that they can mute and unmute their devices. 
  • Ask people to announce themselves at the beginning and when speaking, so everyone knows who is there and who is speaking.
  • Send handouts or presentations ahead of time, ideally as an attachment to the invitation.
  • If the meeting is also online and/or in person, describe what you are showing on-screen, since people dialing in can’t see it.
  • If there is also an on-location meeting, use proper audio equipment (one or more microphones and speakers) so everyone can hear each other clearly.

Meet Them Where They Are

Tools like audio conferencing make it easier for teams to communicate, work and collaborate with one another. To the extent that teams can avoid unproductive time—like walking to and from meetings—and accommodate everyone’s schedule, their efficiency and effectiveness can be maximized. Check out Skype for Business or Teams to see how audio and video conferencing can help you master meetings.