When you speak to someone in the same room, you are both free to interject a new thought at any time, without waiting until the other person has finished. Sometimes this may be considered to be rude, but it’s part of the normal flow… words overlap naturally. And that’s the way telephone calls have worked for over 100 years.

But now, with more technologies that allow “hands-free” interaction with a phone or computer, the natural “flow” is interrupted. In order to be “hands-free”, the caller’s voice is amplified and played through a speaker loud enough that you can hear them comfortably from a few feet away. To prevent feedback, the microphone is muted while the speaker is on. The conversation has now become a game of “wait until I’m finished, then you can speak”.

In broadcasting, we frequently will have a panel discussion with several people involved. If any participant is connected by phone or Skype, they should be encouraged to not use “hands-free” mode, or their voice may be cut off while others speak.

earbudsIdeally, we would like to see the caller use a professional mic and headphone. But we understand that’s not always practical. Even simple earbuds with a mic embedded in the cable will help the situation. Because you have plugged into the headphone jack, the phone doesn’t need to switch the mic on and off… the conversation is simultaneous 2-way, as it should be.

The other bonus is that, even though the embedded mic is not the greatest, at least it’s only a few inches from the person’s mouth. (In “hands-free” mode, you are using the mic that’s inside the phone, several feet away. That only makes the sound even worse.)

So, just by using a headset, you will improve the flow of conversation in your programs that include remote callers.


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