This is part two of a two part series discussing the unified communications meeting environment and video conference meeting technology.
In part one. We explored the meeting environment, optimising lighting, acoustics and reducing disturbances using room booking indicators. In part two, we focus on the technology solutions which take your presentation out to the world.
Unified Communications – Meetings for the Masses
We’ve sorted our ideal meeting space. You can be seen, heard and aren’t going to get interrupted. But you’re still sat at your laptop using the in-built camera, speakers and mic. You’ve not got enough screen real-estate to see the people you’re talking to alongside your content; and you can’t bring anyone into the room with you for their contributions. This just won’t work if we want to have multiple people in one space, as part of our hybrid meeting approach.
Lets fix this. First, we need more screen real-estate. Two screens works best. One of these screens should be dedicated to your remote participants’ faces at all times. There are tonnes of non-verbal cues given off by your participants when you’re presenting and you want to be sure that you don’t miss these. When you meet in person, you tweak your presenting style to accommodate the mood of the room. This should be no different when your in a video conference. The other monitor should be dedicated to your presentation content. Exactly as if you were presenting in a normal meeting space. Further, you want to ensure that no matter which way you look, your participant screens are visible when you present.
Your meetings should work, no matter who is in the room. Taking your device with you when you go shouldn’t prevent the meeting from continuing.
Next is your video conferencing device. The hub of any video conference. Your laptop is fine until you need to leave a meeting early or the presentation is on someone else’s device. Moreover, the meeting isn’t going to work with everyone trying to have their microphones live in one space.
Our focus here is ensuring your meeting works, no matter who is in the room. Dedicated video conference platform hardware such as a Microsoft Teams Rooms or Zoom Rooms device is key to improving consistency in your space. These devices are managed from the meeting platform admin portal, don’t require lengthy login procedures and are ready to go when you are.
Finally, we need to make sure you can clearly hear the other people in the meeting. In all but the smallest room, the speakers on your display will leave you feeling like your colleagues are distant and not fully participating in the meeting. Using a good quality in room audio system will ensure everyone can hear your remote participants.
Deliver as if You’re All in the Room
Now we’ve got our screens, speakers and unified communications platform. We can see and hear our remote users but they can’t see or hear us. Unified communications means everyone should be able to see and hear, without the need for bulky equipment or hours of prep time. Your cameras and microphones should “just work” allowing you to deliver your presentation no matter how many people are taking part remotely.
When you’re on your own, it’s tempting to use a headset. These are a low cost, easy to use way of getting audio into your computer. What they also do is block crucial facial expressions, something which your other participants may not pickup on. The best microphone system is the one which you don’t even realise is there.
The AV System Bit
We’ve been putting it off for long enough, it’s time look at the best way to get your video and audio into the system.
Devices such as the Sennheiser Team Connect 2 Ceiling Microphone sit discretely on the ceiling of your room and pick up crystal clear audio without any user interaction. In spaces where you already use traditional discussion microphone systems, these should now feed into the unified communications platform too. The focus is to capture audio for your meeting in a way which doesn’t require you to adjustment to your presentation style.
In a meeting, it can feel incredibly frustrating to feel tied to your chair, staring at a single fixed camera. You may want to move around whilst presenting or just not have the need to focus on keeping in-frame at all times. In small spaces, devices such as the Huddly IQ use intelligent pan, tilt and zoom (PTZ) to follow your face around the space. In larger conference and meeting spaces, multiple PTZ cameras should be switched to ensure you’re always in the frame. The positional information provided by the audio system automates this process for you to ensure that you can continue presenting without having to consider the AV in the space.
Presentation is Key
We’ve now integrated our unified communications as far as audio and video are concerned. Perhaps counterintuitively, we now need to take a step back and think about your presentation. In your normal meeting room, your presentation is on your device. You connect this to the AV system using either a HDMI cable or wireless streaming such as AirMedia and this in turn appears on the screen in the room.
Why can’t it be this simple with video conferences? On your laptop, you may be used to worrying about sharing the correct screen and making sure that your notes are printed to follow along with. With a Teams Room or Zoom Room solution, you can go back to just plug and go for your laptop. Share your presentation with the same ease as you’re accustomed to and never worry about sharing your screen again.
Unified Communications, Universal Control
Our unified communications solution is almost complete. Now is the time to pull it all together with a sleek control interface and robust system monitoring. No one will want to use your spectacular new system if it’s too complicated. Worse, if it isn’t working, how will you know until someone raises a ticket?
Connecting your conferencing platform with your room AV system is crucial to delivering a transparent meeting solution. Ensure your entire ecosystem: displays, speakers, microphones, cameras and platform hardware is working in harmony and at peak efficiency. A well programmed control system configures the room before each use, provides simplified control of advanced functionality and offers key performance metrics and monitoring for support and management of your spaces.
With everything we’ve discussed above, you should be ready to make the changes you need for your next meeting to be a complete success. If you’re still stuck however, we’ve got a great team here ready to do the heavy lifting for you. Give us a call and we will assess your specific requirements and tailor a solution to suit.