The first 10 minutes of a 30 minute meeting all-too-often look like this:
“How do we connect my laptop to the TV?”
“Can someone get Sarah? She knows how to turn on the projector.”
“I think I have the wrong meeting link; here let me find that in my email.”
“While I’m looking, can someone go ahead and dial us in on the speakerphone?”
“There we go. Can everybody hear me? No? Here, I’ll slide over closer to the microphone.”
By the end of the meeting, you may not even realize you’ve run out of time until someone pops their head through the doorway because they’ve booked the room for the next block of time, and now you’re delaying the start of their meeting.
$37 billion dollars is lost annually to poor meetings, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Audiovisual (AV) has changed from a speciality area to a business-critical application. Businesses need to interact with remote workers, remote clients, and remote vendors, so presentation and collaboration technology is increasingly part of how we communicate. AV equipment is therefore becoming as central to running your business as other communications like phone or email. The shift to AV being business-critical in nature has in turn created a demand for reliable, sustainable, and repeatable AV solutions.
Organizations constantly struggle with how to enable employees to be as successful as possible. While well-intentioned, audiovisual items in the conference room have admittedly been a contributor to the inefficiency of meetings, but we have new solutions to those problems with the modern meeting space:
1. Sensing for space utilization
The space powers on when people enter the room. Various sensors provide automatic power control of the displays and lights. If people aren’t in the room, it powers itself down.
2. Making use of displays for room calendar and instructions
Show the room calendar on screen to indicate to people whether they are in the right space, and remind them what their time constraints may be. Provide instructions on how to connect wirelessly to display your laptop on the screen. You no longer need to tape instructions on the wall or laminate how-to documentation on the table.
3. Reserving a room on the fly.
Because the touch panel is integrated with your room calendar, you can see if a room is open. Need to jump into a room? Without opening up your laptop, you can look at the touch panel to identify whether a room is available, and with a touch you can book the room. On the flip side, if someone has booked a room but is a no-show, the system can also release the room so it can be efficiently utilized by others.
4. One-touch meetings
No more hunting for the right link or number to dial. Since the system knows you’ve booked the meeting, when you enter the room, you hit one button to start your meeting. It dials the right number and helps you connect quickly.
5. Multiple platform capabilities
We see people using multiple platforms, sometimes in the same day. Once someone is familiar with using these on their laptop, they want an easy way to plug into a conference room and have the same experience whether they are using Zoom, Skype for Business, WebEx, Slack, Cisco Spark, Google Hangouts, or others.
6. Wirelessly displaying computer to screens
Carrying around extra dongles for various connections is becoming a thing of the past. Several good options exist for wirelessly displaying your computer on the screens in your meeting space from Crestron AirMedia to Barco ClickShare.
7. Self-controlled cameras
No more adjusting angles or missing who is talking because they’re just outside of the frame. These cameras pan and zoom in on their own to show whomever in the room is speaking.
8. Multi-image displays with auto-switching
Comparing data is extremely important in decision making meetings. As you plug in a new input, the image automatically adjusts to add the new image to the screen. Unplug and it automatically reverts. With a 4K display, each window is still at full HD resolution, so you can quickly share and see multiple people’s screens at the same time without having to crowd around someone’s desk or take the extra time needed to switch presenters back-and-forth.
9. Cutting edge microphones with enhanced quality
Not much is worse during a meeting than not being able to clearly hear a person speaking. If you can’t hear, users either have to repeat themselves frequently or listeners just don’t get the message. There are some great options out there for improving the audio experience in a meeting space. One example is the Shure Microflex Advance line of microphones. The microphone can be ceiling mounted in a tile rather than dropping down into the room, and the lobes within the microphone are adjusted to the specific acoustics of the room and locations of the meeting participants to improve clarity.
10. Huddle rooms
When real estate is limited, this type of space accommodates more, yet smaller meetings. It makes sense that 2 or 3 people who need to utilize the technology of a larger conference room are able to leverage the same tools on a smaller and more flexible scale. We are seeing more and more huddle rooms being added, whether it’s an inefficient space being transformed or a new space layout recognizing the need for smaller tech-ready rooms.
It can be easy to assume that these items represent a lot of separate AV solutions to hook together, but as AV equipment advances, many of these items are really consolidated down into a handful of products. The Crestron Mercury is an all-in-one solution for many features including a VoIP phone, BYOD web conferencing, wired & wireless presentation, integrated calendar, one-touch meetings, BLE beacon connectivity, and an occupancy sensor within a user friendly and consistent interface. From there you can enhance your room for quality with better speakers and microphones, 4K displays, and advanced cameras.
AV and IT products for conference rooms have evolved to eliminate poor meetings. The cost has evolved too. Creating a space with all these features a few years ago would have cost tens of thousands dollars more than they would cost to implement today — though the savings from eliminating that wasted 10 minutes of time at the beginning of every meeting makes the investment in better AV pay for itself over time.