Sign in

Making the most of your conference room

Jason F. Hopkins
Making the most of your conference room

If you’re like many of us, you spend countless hours in meetings each week. If that weren’t distracting enough, the fact that you likely spend much more time than you need to because of technical issues and inefficiencies can be downright maddening. Many small companies simply do not have the IT personnel needed to effectively manage remote meetings and all that goes into it. Some larger companies have the IT staff, but since everyone has personal preferences and machines made by different manufacturers, we lose countless hours each year setting up and troubleshooting. Spending a little time setting up a first-rate conference room will impress your clients while reducing costs associated with lost time. 

The Computer and Connection

The most important component to your teleconferencing setup is the computer and connection. All other peripherals are useless without them. You need something capable of handling the streaming audio and video, while also running PowerPoint or Keynote or whatever other software you may be using in your presentation. The fact that everything from tech specs to software versions to interface issues can cause you presentation pain may lead you to rent a laptop for presentations.

Renting a laptop has many advantages. It keeps you up to date on everything that could potentially cause you a headache and result in lost time. When you have a dedicated machine for your meetings, you know that the tech is able to handle all the tasks it’s being asked to perform. You also simplify things by eliminating the need to bring someone in to set the whole thing up. The presenter can just plug in a flash drive and begin. Pair that with a high-speed internet connection, and you’ve got a solid base.

The A/V Equipment

Once your connection is set up and solid, you can focus on the camera and mic setup that works for you. A lot of the criteria here will be based on your personal needs.  But, since your goal is a video conference that’s barely noticeable, you’re going to want to make sure you’ve got the right gear. When everything is up to date and compatible, your connection is smooth and effortless.

First, let’s dive into the camera. If you have a somewhat large group participating in a smaller room, a camera mounted relatively high with a wider angle might be the ticket. On the other hand, if you are having a smaller one on one meetings, the camera on your computer might work just fine. As long as your camera is mounted very close to the screen or monitor, you can create the illusion of eye contact. But how do you choose between camera models?

Many people think that the highest resolution camera is automatically the best. While it’s true that the image quality will be better with a higher resolution camera, the files are very large, and video quality will become poor if your internet connection or computer aren’t up to the task. Also, a hard-wired internet connection works much better than a wifi connection, so this is always the best choice for maintaining video quality. Take inventory of exactly what you need the camera to do in your meetings, and a realistic choice will emerge.

The same rings true for the microphone. When you have a larger group at a table, you might want an omnidirectional microphone in the center of the table. Omnidirectional means that it can pick up voices from every direction, so anyone at the table can speak toward the microphone and be heard. If only a single person in a small room needs to be heard, you can typically get by with the built-in mic on your camera or computer. Again, let your needs drive your decision.

Setting up your space

A good conference room is essential to efficient meetings. It should be comfortable, but not comfortable enough that you find yourself taking unexpected naps. It should also be free from distractions. If you’ve got the space, you can set up conference rooms of different sizes, for different uses. Maybe you have a larger room with a conference table for team and board meetings, while you have a smaller room set up for client demos and personal meetings. In either scenario, you don’t want the space to feel too large or too small for your meeting. Whatever your personal space situation allows, you will want to set things up similarly in each space.

Everything should be easily accessible. Make sure the internet is easy to access for anyone who needs it. Post login info in a conspicuous place. Many regular employees may already be logged on, but when you have clients or associates in for a meeting, the quicker connection means you are quicker to get down to business.

Also, all equipment connections should be readily available. If you don’t have a dedicated computer setup, it’s helpful to have a dedicated location for the computer, with all cords and cables easily accessible so you can quickly connect without searching for things. If you don’t have a dedicated computer, you will want to make sure the camera and microphone drivers are loaded to your computer before the meeting begins.

Since most of our lost time comes in the form of setup, having a dedicated setup may help to eliminate(or reduce at the very least), those issues. Make sure your equipment and connection are up to par, and whenever you update something, make sure the rest of your system is able to handle the upgrade. If you simplify your meetings, you may simplify a large segment of your life.

Jason F. Hopkins
Zupyak is the world’s largest content marketing community, with over 400 000 members and 3 million articles. Explore and get your content discovered.
Read more