Telecon FAQs and Etiquette

Please mute your phone.

Haven't participated in a telephone conference in a while or ever?  Here's a brief refresher course for telephone conference (a.k.a. "teleconference" or "telecon"), including FAQs and etiquette for the Museum Alliance.  If you have any issues or questions, please don't hesiate to email us.

Telecon etiquette:
The phone line should be open about 15 minutes
before the start time.  Feel free to call in early to say hello, check connection issues, test your mute function, and/or just chat informally with us before the start of the telecon.  When you call in, the system may ask for your name. If so, please say and spell it as instructed, e.g. "Jeff Nee, J - e - f - f  N - e - e."  Then the system may ask for your affiliation.  If so, please state your organization's name, e.g. "Science museum of America."  

  1. Once the telecon has begun (i.e. after the posted start time), please mute your phone while the speakers/others are talking.  
    Please mute your phone
    • Your phone should have a button that says "mute" or a picture of a microphone with or without a slash, like the one above.  Press that, and it should prevent any noise from your phone disrupting our NASA speakers' presentations.  
    • If you're not sure if it works, call-in a few minutes early to the telecon, then simply press the button and ask if anyone can hear you, including your name. No one on the line should be able to hear you, but we'll identify you by name if we can.
    • If your phone doesn't have a "mute" button, or if it doesn't work, no worries; our telecon system has a built-in mute function, so simply press *6 (star six).
    • The *6 feature (like the "mute" button) is a toggle; your phone may be unmuted for questions by pressing *6 again.  Then press *6 once more to re-mute yourself. 
    • Also note that if the operator was forced to mute you due to noise from your line, you may not be able to unmute yourself later to ask questions.
    • If you have any issues or further questions, please don't hesiate to email us.
  2. For any technical problems encountered during the telecon, press *0 (star zero) to speak privately to the operator to resolve the issue.  They will pull you out of the telecon to address your issue one-on-one.
  3. If you're late entering the telecon, please already have your phone on mute before you're connected to the call, as the recording will have already begun.  Note that if the telecon system asks you for your name and affiliation.  That is fine to say, as no one else will hear those.  Immediately after that though, please be sure to mute your phone.
  4. Please DO NOT place your phone on "hold," even if you have to step away, because some phones play music which will disrupt the NASA speakers' presentation.  Again, simply "mute" your phone to prevent any disruptions.
  5. When it's time to ask questions, you may simply unmute, introduce yourself and your organization, and remember to remute yourself after you've asked your question so that everyone can hear the answer. There may be some overlap sometimes, if two or more people try this at the same time, but please be patient and courteous.  Remember that even if you don't get to ask your question on the telecon, questions after the telecons are always welcome via emailing.  
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FAQs and troubleshooting:

  1. I forgot my login information / call-in information, or I don't have login information.  No worries, we usually include the call in information in the email where you probably first heard about it.  Otherwise, just use this link to reset your password using your registered email address.  All the information for all the telecons are on our member Telecon Conversations page.  There are also publicly available telecons.  In addition, other NASA Affiliate organizations are granted access through the NASA Nationwide website, and your organization's coordinator has guest login information you can use.  Organizations include the Night Sky Network, Solar System Ambassadors, STARNet Libraries, and more.  See the Nationwide website for a full list.
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  2. Where are the slides? If there are slides for a given telecon (there usually are), they'll be downloadable at the bottom of the individual telecon page (click here for an example).  If you're not a member, and someone forwarded you the call-in information (e.g. a colleague or supervisor), for the short term, you should contact that person to forward you the presentation materials, too.  Long term, you're welcome to join the Alliance and access them yourself.  
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  3. Why telecons instead of ____?  There are several reasons we choose a telecon system instead of other methods, like webinars, or just articles/text/images.  1) Telecons make NASA experts more accessible.  Calling into our toll free numbers is more accessible than the high speed internet required for webinars, both for listeners and for speakers (e.g. those on travel or in remote locations).  Our telecon archives also come with freely accessible PDF slides, as well as transcripts for the hearing impaired.  2) Telecons save space.  By just archiving the audio for our over 500 telecons, we save terabytes of space on our servers.  3) Telecons increase interactivity.  By offering the listeners control of their own set of presentation slides we can actively engage listeners, as well as have the speakers interact more with the listeners by describing in more detail what they're seeing.  Also, telecons provide a much more personal connection with the experts and materials versus a press release or media event; listeners are talking directly with the experts.  Of course, NASA as a whole offers many ways to interact with our content, and we hope you choose the method(s) that work best for you.
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  4. The telecon system is continuously asking for my name.  This is a rare, but known, glitch in the telecon system.  Simply hang up and redial back in; you should be able to get into the telecon eventually.  
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  5. I can't hear the speaker that well.  The moderators on the talk (usually Jeff and/or Amelia) have already tested the speaker's sound quality before beginning the talk, and are listening along with you.  If they're not mentioning the poor quality, it might be a problem just with your phone line/signal.  You can test it by dialing *0 (star, then zero) to temporarily leave the telecon to talk with the operator and see what the issue is.  Always feel free to email us, even while a telecon is happening to communicate issues.
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  6. These are great! Can I share them?  We're always glad when you enjoy a telecon.  Don't be shy about letting us know by email, or by just outright telling the speaker at the end of the telecon.  The Museum Alliance is always collecting comments and feedback to show our value to NASA and to help improve our services.  To be clear, the presentation files are almost always free to use in your programs and presentations as you see fit, unless otherwise stated, such as with "embargoed" information.  For the audio recordings and transcripts, we consider them as purely professional developmentso please only share them with your staff and docents, with that same understanding of professional development only.  If someone truly would like to access the recordings and transcripts themselves, including your staff, he/she is more than welcome to apply for Alliance membership.  There are also publicly available telecons which are free to share with everyone.  See our note below.
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  7. How do I call in if I'm international?  There are sometimes international numbers offered, on a case by case basis.  Unless otherwise stated, all of our call-in numbers are US toll free lines (check each telecon for details), and international charges may still apply if calling from a traditional phone.  However, there are several programs and services which can make phone calls over the internet.  Some of those programs may offer free calling to US toll free numbers.  NASA does not endorse any third party commercial company over another, but searching the internet for such programs yourself should give you plenty of options.  You can test them by calling any US toll free number, and if you need more assistance just email us.  
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These professional development telecons are intended to prepare you for your upcoming presentations and events.  Out of respect to our speakers, the telecon is NOT to be shared LIVE in classrooms, museums or other venues for the public.  To that end, please keep the following in mind:

  • Please do NOT share the telecon call-in information (phone number, passcode, etc) with non-members.
  • Please do NOT TWEET OR BLOG what’s being discussed in real time. 
  • If you think someone would benefit from a specific telecon, invite them to register for a Museum Alliance account.  If they miss it, the telecons are always archived for later listening, and we are always open for questions afterwards.
  • Note that registered members of other NASA networks (Night Sky Network, NEON, Solar System Ambassadors, STAR Net, Earth to Sky, etc.) are also welcome to join these telecons; contact your network's organizer for the links, logins, and passwords needed.
  • Sharing the recordings with your staff, colleagues, and docents is okay, as long as they are also made aware that these are not meant for the general public (unless explicitly stated).  Also, we'd prefer that you encourage them to sign up for their own Museum Alliance account anyway.  We are 100% publicly funded through NASA, and having an accurate list of people using our resources helps us show the impact the Alliance has. 

The Museum Alliance is more than just for museums; any education professional is welcome to join, including staff of libraries, youth serving organizations, camps, observatories, parks, etc.  Telecons are a time for YOU to become familiar with NASA information, and ask questions to NASA experts BEFORE conducting your events and addressing the public.  

Finally, on rare occasions, we will explicitly tell you when our speakers are sharing "embargoed" information with you, the professional community, in advance of releasing it to the public.  So, please respect those limits and do not release the information before the specificed public release date.  

Thank you for your cooperation.


This special resource has been made available to all viewers.  Please note that (free) membership is required for full access to the Museum Alliance site; please visit Join Our Community to learn more.  

Resource Type: 
Professional Development