Managing a Question and Answer Session
You can easily manage a question and answer session during your conference calls by using the *1 Raise Your Hand keypad command in conjunction with the Host Control Panel. Callers who “raise their hands” are entered into a queue in chronological order, allowing the host to call on each in succession, un-muting one caller at a time to ask a question. This provides an orderly process for participants to comment or ask questions. When used with the Presentation Conference Mode (where all non-Hosts are muted), this gives a Host full control over speaking privileges.
Using the Raise Your Hand Feature
To use this feature, at least one person needs to be logged into the Host Control Panel, since the effect of pressing the star-one (*1) Raise Your Hand command is to provide a visible indicator in the Host Control Panel. For maximum host control, the conference should be placed in Presentation Mode, which mutes all non-Hosts (you can have multiple Hosts if necessary).
To begin the Q&A session, tell callers to press star-one on their keypad if they want to ask a question. They can “lower” their hand by pressing *1 a second time, if their question has already been answered. When at least one hand is raised, an action panel is displayed above the caller list in the Host Control Panel, as shown below.
The action panel at the top indicates that three participants have raised hands, and the drop-down selection box lists the three callers. Since Sally is at the top of the queue, her name is displayed in the selection box. In the active callers table, you see the hand-raised icon on the right column. The number next to the icon indicates that caller’s position in the queue. At this point in the conference, you can see that all callers expect the Host are muted (checkbox in the Muted column).
There are three action buttons to the right of selection box at the top next to Sally’s name and Caller ID number:
- Select – Clicking on this box will “select” Sally and un-mute her line. Sally will hear a private announcement “Line un-muted” when this button is pressed. The host should wait two seconds prior to soliciting her question, since Sally will be hearing the “line un-muted” announcement.
- Skip – This will bypass Sally, and play a private announcement to hear, “your hand has been lowered”. This will also remove Sally from the queue. This doesn’t prevent Sally from re-entering the queue by pressing *1 again, though she would be placed at the bottom of the queue.
- Skip All – This “lowers” all the remaining hands in the queue. All participants with raised hands will hear, “your hand has been lowered”.
You have the option of picking a specific caller (that is, bypass the chronological order) by selecting a different caller in the drop-down selection box at that top (click in the selection box displaying Sally’s name, then select a different person from the list). Alternatively, you can click on the Raised Hand icon on the right column of the caller list table. Clicking on the icon gives you the choice of selecting that caller (which un-mutes that caller) or skipping that caller (i.e. lowering the hand).
Note that you can click on the Hands column header to sort the active caller table by the Raised Hand order.
Clicking on the Select button next to Sally’s name would display the following screen:
Sally’s line is now un-muted, as indicated in the caller list – the Muted box is now unchecked. Sally has been alerted by our system that she has been called upon, because she heard a private “line un-muted” announcement.
Note that the Caller ID name is not necessarily accurate. For instance, it may display the name of another member in the caller’s household.
Sally’s line will be un-muted and you can now solicit Sally’s question. Once she has asked the question, you have the following options for Sally’s line:
- Mute – This mutes Sally’s line, without un-muting the next caller in the Raised Hand queue. She will hear a “line muted” announcement. She remains “selected” and the Mute label will switch to un-mute.
- Done – This mutes Sally’s line and “lowers” her hand, without un-muting the next caller in the Raised Hand queue.
- Return – This mutes Sally’s line and returns her to the Raised Hand queue in the same position, without un-muting the next caller in the Raised Hand queue. In this particular case, clicking the Return button would put Sally back to the front of the queue.
The most common action would be to be click on the “Select” button to the right of Robert’s name in the selection box. This would mute Sally’s line, and “lower” her hand (i.e. remove Sally from the Raised Hand queue) and un-mute Robert. The screen will then change as follows:
After finishing with Robert and selecting Larry (the last caller in the queue), the following screen will be displayed. Note that the selection box disappears (there are no other callers remaining the queue). When finishing with Larry, you would press the “Done” button, which would mute his line and remove the final hand icon from the caller list table.
After clicking the “Done” button for the Larry, the Raised Hand action box will disappear, returning the screen to its original state.
- Using the Raised Hand Icons – Instead of managing the session via the action panel near the top, you can click on the individual icons displayed in the caller table in the right-most column. When you click on an icon, you will get a pop-up box allowing you to Select or Skip that caller. You can click on the Hands column heading to sort the callers by the Raised Hand queue order, bringing the raised hands to the top of the caller list.
- Other Conference Modes – The Raised Hand features are designed to work best in Presentation Mode. If the conference is in Conversation Mode, callers are already un-muted, and “selecting” a raised hand doesn’t change the mute status of any participant. It is recommended that you switch the conference into Presentation Mode before initiating a Q&A session using the Raise Hand feature.