Jeff May, UK Sales Director at conferencing manufacturer Konftel, outlines the importance of clear audio in remote meetings
Meeting equality can be a major challenge in today’s hybrid workplace – with remote participants sometimes having a hard time getting a seat and being heard at the virtual table.
They are often unable to follow side discussions and have trouble picking up non-verbal cues and interacting easily. Then there’s video and audio performance: can they be seen and heard as easily as colleagues sitting face-to-face?
Equally, they need to be able quickly and easily to join meetings without lots of complicated cabling and confusing set-ups that erode confidence.
The latest research from Konftel industry partner Barco highlights a hybrid meeting paradox, with around 80% of staff wanting to work in a hybrid way but 71% feeling stressed/frustrated by hybrid meetings.
Effective meeting room technology can help redress the balance and bring meeting equity and equality, reduce stress and provide a rewarding experience for all, with clear audio providing a strong foundation.
An equal voice
We believe organisations need to provide more flexibility and an ‘equal voice’ wherever people are working. It’s vital to solve the meeting equity challenge by finding the employee experience ‘sweet-spot’ to enable businesses to thrive.
Employees have adapted to more flexible ways of working and expect their employers to fully embrace this ethos by providing the latest technology, redesigned offices and new internal policies.
According to Barco, 35% have trouble engaging with others during hybrid meetings, with 1 in 4 finding it difficult to speak up. This really should not be the case and underlines how critical it is to provide all concerned with the right tools and education to maximise their contribution and performance.
The user experience is king. That’s why Konftel has pioneered the Bring Your Own Meeting concept. Whatever their preferred collaboration app or cloud service, users simply bring their laptop to an office or remote meeting, plug in a USB cable and they are good to go. Equally, dedicated in-room systems are growing in popularity, and it’s important to offer a choice there too.
Many companies are creating a new ecosystem, with a central office used to host clients, foster inspiration and facilitate collaborative sessions, putting video conferencing and high quality end points at the heart of a workplace revolution.
Good audio is key
More video meetings are taking place across more locations, but for those working remotely poor audio pick-up, especially via standard laptop microphones, can make it a battle to be heard and lead to a feeling of inferiority.
It is equally important not to miss out on important pieces of the conversation or to be distracted by annoying clicks or sounds. Slow broadband, background noise and poor hardware are all factors that undermine clear audio, alongside general room acoustics.
Microphone and speaker placements can make a big difference, and keeping a clear line of sight by not blocking audio devices with a laptop or drinks canister will help to optimise sound performance.
All Konftel speaker and conference phones are equipped with OmniSound audio technology with full duplex to guarantee powerful, crystal-clear sound in both directions and automatic echo cancellation and noise suppression.
We have developed hypersensitive microphones with 360° sound pickup and powerful speakers, which provide superb sound distribution to all participants, and many of our latest models include beamforming microphones for an even more precise audio experience.
None of us wish to talk over people in a meeting but at times it is the way a conversation naturally flows, particularly the kind where significant or important business is being done. Those are the moments when audio quality is of most importance, because those are the moments that really matter.
For us meeting equality is vital, to ensure equal interaction and collaboration for everyone.
Top tips for productive meetings
- Invest in high quality video cameras, webcams and audio devices for all room sizes and locations
- Reduce technical complexity to simplify the user interface
- Deploy auto framing technology so everyone can be clearly seen wherever they are sitting
- Have a clear line of sight to microphones. Don’t block them off with objects such as a laptop or water canister.
- Provide powerful laptops
- Ensure familiarity with technology
- and meeting apps
- Maintain high speed internet
- Provide extra monitors
- Suggest ergonomic keyboards and mice