IT plays a central role in facilitating business goals. Read our Audio Basics whitepaper to learn about the role IT has in creating successful businesses.
Not only that, but IT now has a central role to play in facilitating business goals, whether that’s delivering competitive advantage through technological innovation or demonstrating ROI on digital upgrades. In this way, IT impacts on multiple departments meaning it is often a driving force behind business agility.
With so much pressure on IT’s shoulders it is important to keep abreast of the latest developments in both technology and business strategy, and no where do these two combine more than in meeting rooms.
Meeting room technology is now very much under the control of the IT team, and with this change comes the need to be aware of how to create and manage a space that meets the needs of its users, enabling them to communicate effectively.
In a meeting room environment, the aim is always to enhance the sounds we do want to hear and minimize external influences.
Speech, for example, is all about clarity – being able to easily understand what is being said by the people you are talking too, whether you’re in the same room or conference calling the other side of the world. Interference from unwanted sounds can have a profound effect on our ability to perceive speech accurately, yet the clarity of speech is of primary importance in many types of spaces – perhaps none more so than the corporate environment. You want the CEO’s speech to sound great; you want education sessions to be fully understood, you want webinars to be delivered seamlessly. To achieve that, anything that affects a participant’s ability to clearly hear the words being delivered needs to be minimized or eliminated. In other words, you need high-quality audio to get the most from your meeting and collaboration spaces.
Effective meeting room audio can be achieved by being aware of ambient noise – common background sounds such as fans or traffic that can make it harder for participants to hear – and being aware of the technology available to help make conferences as effective as possible.
There are 11 million meeting rooms in Western Europe and North America
Small meeting rooms sitting up to 6 people accounts for 49% of meeting rooms in Western Europe and North America
20% of meetings are being held in non-traditional areas such as in kitchens, breakout spaces, receptions and foyers
11% of employees work from home three or more days a week
Source: Futuresource Consulting: Collaboration, Innovation, Flexibility - Making Sense of Meeting Room Technology Spend
Space and ambient noise can have a big impact on sound quality in audio-video conferencing, and poor equipment will not be able to counter either. Finding the right solution can mean the difference between efficient, productive meetings and situations in which participants struggle to hear what is said, conversations need to be repeated and attendee fatigue sets in. Nobody wants to walk into a meeting room, spend time setting up a call and then not be able to interact naturally with the people you’re speaking to, instead falling in to the frustrating situation of talking over one another and straining to hear what’s being said due to a poor microphone or low-quality speakers.
Turn down air conditioning, close windows
Opt for thick carpets, heavy curtains and fabric wall coverings in acoustically troublesome rooms
Don’t rustle papers and documents close to microphones
Put mobile phones on mute
It is important that any technology intuitively helps the user to achieve their desired outcome, and audio is just the same. For example, central table mics will ensure everyone can be heard without having to pass a microphone from person to person, while ceiling mics can be effective in larger rooms, enabling all participants to be heard equally on the far end of the call no matter where they are in the room. Knowing your user, as well as knowing your room, can help to achieve good audio.
Higher user uptake if the technology is effective and intuitive
More productive meetings if audio is clear and participants don’t have to repeat themselves
More efficient decision making if users can share information clearly and naturally
More effective client meetings resulting in better outcomes
More natural and regular collaboration between disparate teams
Better engagement with customers and the ability to build trust and rapport
More professional, reliable webinar experiences
By following a number of guidelines, both technical and non-technical, it is possible to improve the acoustics of a room and create a space that is not only comfortable but fit for purpose – facilitating communication and collaboration, sharing information and making decisions.