Both of these programs are free to download. Usually guilds have access to a server for one of these applications. Members are expected to make use of these servers during raids and many people join the chat channels for company and information.
Ventrilo can be downloaded for PCs running Windows XP and Vista or Macintosh OSX 10.3 or better. Once you have downloaded and installed the client you will need server information to get connect to your team. You will need a server, port, and password for your guild's vent server.
Click on the arrow button next to User Name. Here you will enter a user name that will be displayed. Once the window is open, click on "new" to enter your name. It's useful to sign in with your WoW screen name so that your team will recognize you. When you log in, a computer voice announces your presence to teammates, if you have a name that is difficult to pronounce, type in a phoenetic spelling of your name. Once you're satisfied by the way your voice sounds click on "OK" this brings you back to the main screen.
Next click on the arrow next to "Server" and then "New" on the small window that pops up. You have the freedom to give the connection any name you like in this window. For hostname, port and password, you will to enter the serer information exactly. Then click on ok. This completes the basic Ventrilo Setup. You can now click "Connect" to hear the voices of your team.
As with the in-game chat client, I recommend using a push to talk hotkey. To assign this key, click on the "Setup" button. Check the box marked "Use Push to Talk Hotkey (PTT Mode)." Then click in the window marked Hotkey and push the key you want to assign to talk. I use the "`" over the tab key on the left side of the keyboard. Click OK on the bottom of the screen. You will not be able to open to use the hotkey to talk while the Ventrilo window is active.
You may be asked by other players to turn your outbound volume up or down, you can access the microphone volume control from the setup window.
You can explore the set up window for further options.
I have found most of these to be a matter of preference.
For more information, check out the Ventrilo FAQ
Teamspeak (Teamspeak 2) is the other major voice-chat program commonly employed by WoW
This program is also free to download.
Teamspeak can be downloaded for Windows
and unofficially as TeamSpeex for Macintosh
Follow the prompts to install and launch the program.
From the main Teamspeak window, click on quick connect. Again, you will have to enter the server name and password as you are given it. Enter your nickname as you wish to be known, in most cases your screen name is your best option.
You can adjust your sound options in Teamspeak by clicking on "Sound Input/Output Settings" from the "Settings" drop down. Teamspeak is being updated to version three. For information, check out the Teamspeak FAQ.
Public Service Announcements
Ventrilo is usually shortened to vent and Teamspeak is usually abbreviated to TS. The servers for these two programs are not interchangeable, if your guild uses TS, so must you. Since both programs are free, I recommend downloading them both.
You can listen in to the server without a microphone, but obviously can't speak your responses. If you don't have a microphone, remember to put one on your shopping list next time you're at Best Buy, Circuit City, Fry's or any other electronic store.
For smaller groups who you are closely acquainted with, you may want to use Skype for voice chat. It has a similar functionality, but rather than having someone maintain a host server, you dial your friends directly. Skype is a handy program to have for free computer to computer voice connections.
I ask this special favor of you. I make a solid effort every week to bring you interesting tips on how grow accustomed to the nuances of WoW. Please, for me, never (ever ever ever ever) press down your push-to-talk button to utter the phrases "L O L." Fair trade, thank you very much!