“What’s that echo?” “Can you hear me over that buzz?” “What’s that humming?”
Who hasn’t been part of one of those scenarios during a video conference. The right technology is critical, and so is the room, says Jeff Loether, president of Electro-Media Design.
To ensure a great experience for meeting participants, focus on perfecting the audio first, says Loether, whose company consults with architects and businesses on rooms for meetings and events.
The reason has a lot to do with human evolution.
“When we were living in caves, our survival was far more dependent on our hearing, on our listening and on our aural sense than our visual sense. Why? Because if a saber-toothed tiger stepped on a twig and broke it, we needed to hear that even if we were sleeping,” Loether explains. “So, our ears never sleep, and we don’t have ear lids. Our ears are always listening.”
Snap, Crackle, Pop
To address these issues, businesses should take a two-pronged approach.
First, ask the IT team to ensure that the network can adequately support the conferencing tech in use.
There are four performance measures to consider: latency (end-to-end delay), packet loss, interpacket delay variation or jitter, and bandwidth. If the tech staff right-sizes the network to address these four items, then the system should perform well.
Second, take a hard look at the rooms and spaces used for meetings. Some design changes might be necessary, Loether advises.
“How do windows affect it? How do the acoustics of the room, the background noise or reverberation, isolation from the room next door — how does all that affect the technology that we’re using and ultimately the content that is being carried by that technology?” he asks. “By focusing on acoustics, you ensure better and more effective meetings.”