Doing voice chats well is hard. There’s the inevitable cable-fiddling and restarting and “can you hear me? I can hear you”. There’s the person trying to talk not realising they’re muted. There’s the person treating everyone else to the sounds of them drinking tea because they forgot to mute themselves.
There’s one simple straightforward rule you can stick to that will improve things massively though:
One person, one room, one headset
Nobody on the call wants to hear the person on the desk next to you talk loudly about their lunch plans. Similarly nobody else in your office wants to hear half of a conversation about that new project you’re working on.
Yes your laptop has a mic and speakers so you might think you don’t need a headset, especially if you’re trying to crowd multiple people around one screen. The thing is, unless you’ve put serious preparation and effort into this, nine times out of ten your callmates will struggle to hear what you’re saying, while receiving every tiny noise transmitted loudly through your desk.
Alternatively, and all-too-often, your laptop mic starts picking up the sound from your laptop speakers, and then all your callmates get treated to a delayed echo of their own voices. That’s called “Delayed Auditory Feedback” and it’s incredibly disruptive – go try it out for yourself!
Get each person in a room, on their own, with a headset. It improves so many things.
It doesn’t need to be an expensive headset either! The Apple earbuds that came with my iPhone (the cheap wired kind rather than the wireless expensive “confident” kind) have done me very well!
This won’t fix the dude with a packet of crisps and an over-inflated love of the sound of his own voice, but it’ll still get you a long way.