AV in the workplace increases year on year, whether it’s the webcam you use to skype the occasional off-site meeting or the video wall used for presentations at the year-end company get together. Love it or hate it, it’s part of our working environment so it’s important to have the right equipment suitable for your needs.
In this blog, we will talk through the different methods of deploying AV in the meeting room and what to consider.
Firstly, let’s mention the fact that the traditional meeting space is evolving, no longer do we have to attend the same room at a given time because it’s the only room with a projector installed. The ability to hold a meeting anywhere is now more and more convenient. For the sake of this blog, however, we will be talking about AV in a meeting space where people come together and use an AV system to assist with their needs.
There are probably only a handful of types of an Audio Visual system used in a meeting room, but the variations are huge. The main types of equipment installed in the majority of meeting rooms are; projectors and screens, large format displays, video conferencing, room booking, BYOD & wireless sharing and control systems.
Projectors and projector screens
Still one of the most useful ways in presenting a large image to an audience, however, consideration is needed when deciding on where to mount the projector whether its portable or installed. The distance from the projector to the screen is important to determine the image size and the viewing distances for the audience is essentially based on the content to be displayed. You then have to factor in the connectivity, maintenance costs and the brightness of the room which can sometimes cause difficulties.
Large Format Displays
The alternative to the projector. Large displays were always the costlier option, but recent years have seen a drop in cost and the market is more accessible for flat panel screens even up to 100”. Using a large flat panel screen reduces many maintenance issues and there are fewer concerns when it comes to ambient light levels and running costs. They generally have better (or at least more accessible) connectivity options and the variety of additional components that are either built-in or can be added is ever increasing.
Including Touchscreen technology in the display brings even more functionality to the meeting room and can improve active attendee interaction, collaboration and engagement.
Probably one of the most useful components of an AV system used in meeting rooms, bringing the outside world to your meeting. Again there is a wide variety of products available but by adding a camera, codec and a microphone to a meeting space open up the communication to a wider audience. Choosing the correct system requires consideration as not all VC system cross communicate with each other, for example, a platform or software-based system like Skype may not be a suitable system if all you want to communicate with remote users with standards-based hardware systems.
Placement of the camera and microphone is hugely important as there is nothing worse than only seeing part of the picture or hearing part of the conversation. Getting the camera position wrong and you could be looking up peoples noses, down on their bald spots or cutting them out altogether. Using the wrong microphone can result in missing the conversation or just listening to the pen tapping/foot shuffling attendees.
Having a room booking system prevents disruption and reduces organisational queries. They allow you to quickly check availability and schedule in advance with attendee notification direct to shared calendars. Real-time updates on room occupancy prevent double bookings and can be used as an easy extension or cancellation of existing meetings from any computer or smartphone or directly on the room ́s touch panel.
Consideration is required when choosing a suitable product to ensure compatibility with different online calendars, allowing the system to be used despite future changes in the organisation’s email services.
Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) & Wireless Sharing
Before wireless collaboration, most meetings were the same; you had a leader or main presenter at the front of the room displaying content from the one device without much contribution from others. This was because of the difficulties in connection to different devices or sharing files with other platforms and viewing their own content on various screens. These challenges can be overcome with the use of a wireless presentation system which provides desktop mirroring, allowing users to cast and control what they share on the big screen completely wirelessly.
Wireless presentation devices should be easy to set-up and easy to use, otherwise, they would be no improvement on the previous methods, users should be able to join a meeting and start collaborating from whatever device they choose without the need of any additional unnecessary technical clutter or costly hardware.
It is commonly suggested that over a third of meetings are categorised as poorly ran with many blaming the equipment supplied. How many times has a meeting stalled while the correct connections or the missing remote are found?
Meeting rooms are becoming more automated and connected than ever, and AV systems including projection, screens, sound, as well as lighting and blinds, can be simplified with the addition of a control system. Having a central control panel to start the system or adjust the volume or switch between sources means that you concentrate on the meeting at hand instead of the technology. All the basic controls are at your fingertips, without being confused by unnecessary buttons or remotes that can be lost or batteries that are flat.
In summary, AV in the meeting room environment needs to assist in increasing productivity, encourage audience engagement and promote efficiency. Choosing the correct AV system will be dependant on your own unique requirements and discussing with an AV specialist that can advise, design, install and support will be a benefit to any organisation.
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