Tip - How to Mute the Audio in a Skype for Business Call

I have talked to several people lately who have had the need to mute the audio coming from a Skype for Business meeting or web conference.  Not mute their microphone, but the speaker/headset audio stream from the conference.  They they are needing to listen to something else  – take another call, listen to music while they just watch the conference, or even trying to participate in two conference calls at the same time.

They have struggled in the Skype for Business 2016 client on how to control this, so I wanted to pass along a couple of tips.

The simplest option to just mute the incoming audio stream is using the volume controls on the call control icon in the client. As shown below, you can either fully mute the audio, or reduce the volume.

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Another option is to use the “Hold” control on the same Call Controls (as shown with the ‘pause’ icon in the screen shot above). My web conferences are all VoIP audio, so many users do not realize they can put the audio stream "on hold", just like a regular phone call.  This is nice for momentary interruptions where you just need to pause the audio, do something, and then resume it.

Putting the call on-hold has some pros and cons. When you put the call on hold, a visual indicator updates in your participant entry which let’s other participants know that you have the call on hold and are not available right now, as shown here:

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Another advantage is that you can a periodic ‘beep’ reminder that the call is on-hold, so that you know to return to it if you get disrupted or distracted.

A major disadvantage one reader pointed out is that a Skype for Business user can choose to configure their client to Play Music On Hold. Obviously this would be a major distraction for the rest of the participants if you put the call on hold because they would all hear music being played.  The is off by default (and can be disabled by an Administrator client policy), but if you have this enabled, do not put the call on hold.  The ‘play music on hold’ setting is in the Skype for Business ‘Ringtones and Sounds’ setting in the client as shown here:

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Another useful feature in this scenario is the Devices button (next to the Hold).  You can use this to transfer the audio to another device (like a headset instead of an external speaker).

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