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Virtual Meetings – The Pros and Cons

Virtual Meetings – The Pros and Cons

Exploring The Pros and Cons of Virtual Meetings

Remote work is quickly becoming the rule, not the exception, and with remote work comes virtual meetings. According to UpWork, more than 35 million people (22 percent of the workforce) will work remotely by 2025, so those virtual meetings aren’t going anywhere.

That’s primarily a good thing, as virtual meetings facilitate better productivity and cost-efficiency. There’s a slight downside as well because virtual meetings have trouble replicating some of the high points of an in-person conference. Fortunately, AV technology can help bridge that gap, as well as emphasize the upside of a virtual meeting.

What Are The Pros Of Virtual Meetings?

Virtual meetings are almost always delivered through a video conferencing platform. This platform could be based on a hard codec, like those produced by Poly, or based on a soft codec like Zoom or Microsoft Teams. In either case, there are several advantages to this approach. For example, virtual meetings:

Save Money On Travel

Travel expenses can eat up about 10 percent of the typical company’s expenditures. Much of that money could be recovered by switching to virtual meetings, which require no travel to organize.

Can Connect Anyone, Anywhere

Even if there’s a lot of flex in the company budget, not everyone can travel. If you have employees who, for health or family reasons, cannot travel, virtual meetings will ensure they are included and considered.

Reduces Feelings Of Isolation

Remote workers are more likely to report feeling isolated from other team members, and understandably so. Virtual meetings, though, can help minimize this feeling and keep team morale high.

Can Leverage Other AV Technologies

Virtual meetings have become more sophisticated in recent years. In addition to crystal clear audio and video, modern video conferencing can be used with interactive whiteboards, multi-display systems and precision controls.

What Are The Cons Of Virtual Meetings?

As effective as virtual meetings are, there are some potential negatives to consider. If your organization can account for them, though, these negatives can be mitigated to an extent. Some of the concerns with virtual meetings include:

It’s Tough To Beat A Face-to-Face Meeting

Professionals still value the face-to-face meeting, even if it’s not the primary method an organization goes with. According to several surveys, less than 20 percent of professionals want to do away with in-person meetings for good.

Technical Hiccups Can Derail The Experience

Although conferencing solutions have become much more user friendly with time, there’s always the possibility that technology will interfere with a conference. Intercompatibility between conferencing platforms, for example, remains a sticking point for some solutions.

How Can AV Technology Be Used To Drive Better Virtual Meetings?

Virtual meetings rely on AV technology in the form of video conferencing, so targeting the right video conferencing solution for your organization is a good starting point. There are numerous hardware and soft codec solutions on the market, including:

Poly Studio

Poly’s Studio line of all-in-one conference bars combine ease of use with quality production values. The Poly Studio P5 is the most compact option, so it’s an ideal option for home offices and remote workers. On the other side of the spectrum is the X70, which is for large boardrooms. At every level, the Poly Studio series offers best-in-class camera and audio features.

Crestron Flex

The Crestron Flex also comes in several hardware packages, including two tabletop models, a conferencing-enabled phone and an all-in-one audio/video bar. The Flex does more than just video conference, though, as it can be used for room scheduling and reservation, as well as enable content sharing.

Zoom

Zoom is one of two major soft codec solutions and has greatly expanded its influence in the past five years. It’s known for its ease of use and variety of features, including end-to-end encryption, virtual waiting rooms and file sharing. Zoom even has a safe driving mode that greatly simplifies call control. Zoom also has other options such as a Zoom Room that simplifies the experience even further by only offering the Zoom platform on the display. The experience is the same inside the meeting but with one touch launching the meeting.

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams is the other major soft codec and has gained on Zoom recently. Microsoft’s virtual meeting platform delivers excellent reliability and call quality, as well as custom chat rooms, file storage and full Office 365 integration.

In addition to a strong conferencing platform, organizations can get more from their virtual meetings with improved room controls or an interactive display. Here’s how:

AV Room Controls

An AV control system connects all the room’s AV technologies together and provides a single interface for users to control those technologies. This greatly reduces the difficulty of managing a room’s virtual meeting technology, and therefore reduces user error.

Interactive Displays

Interactive displays add a tactile dimension to a virtual meeting and improve collaboration. With an interactive display, users can start a whiteboarding session that everyone can see, including remote participants. Remote participants can also annotate if given permission, ensuring no one is left out of the collaboration process.

What Can AV Do To Offset The Disadvantages Of Virtual Meetings?

It’s difficult to perfectly simulate a face-to-face meeting, but good AV technology can get pretty close. High quality digital displays offer lifelike visual quality—pair that with AV-quality speakers and microphones and the face-to-face illusion is pretty strong.

Mentioned above, better room controls can help with minimizing the technical burden on users, and an interactive display will help keep remote employees involved.

However, for the full virtual experience, some organizations are even using virtual reality (VR) to hold meetings in virtual space. Users wear a headset during the meeting and can interact with each other as if they were in the same room.

For Better Or Worse, Virtual Meetings Are Here To Stay

Who knows what virtual meetings will look like in the near future, but it’s clear they are already a critical productivity and communication tool. The goal is to emphasize the positives and minimize the negatives, which can be done with proper system design and integration. When your organization is ready to make the most of its virtual meetings, consider working with a reputable certified AV integrator to manage the project.

Is Audio Conferencing A Thing Of The Past?

Video conferencing is getting a lot of attention these days, and for good reason, but audio conferencing is still relevant. That’s partly because audio conferencing and video conferencing solutions aren’t necessarily replacements for each other. Instead, for many organizations, they are cost effective complements.

As useful and engaging as video conferencing can be, there are times where an audio-only conference is not only sufficient, but preferred. For example, it’s still a common communication choice for educational departments, for technical discussions, for sales calls and more. There are many settings where audio is enough.

Three Reasons Why Audio Conferencing Can Still Play A Vital Role

Many organizations may wonder why they should bother investing in audio conferencing if a video conferencing solution can deliver both parts of the AV equation. Isn’t audio conferencing a redundant piece of technology if video conferencing is present? In most organizations, the answer is no. Audio conferencing offers a few advantages that make it worth considering, including these three reasons:

1. It’s simple to use and control – One of the reasons why older technology remains relevant is because it’s proven. Conference calls have been around for decades, so people of all generations are familiar with them. Therefore, it’s generally easy to get people to adopt an audio conferencing solution and utilize it regularly. Further, because audio conferencing technology is pretty basic from a control standpoint, your IT personnel will spend less time responding to issues with the technology.

2. It provides unmatched voice quality – Modern video conferencing solutions leverage the internet to facilitate calls and deliver excellent audio quality, as long as your organization’s network can handle the data. Audio conferencing solutions can either use the internet or participants can be patched into the call individually. In either case, because audio is the only data being sent, fewer network resources are needed to ensure the data arrives intact.

It’s easier to guarantee strong audio quality when utilizing an audio conferencing solution. Video conferencing is still extremely reliable, but when network hiccups do occur, they can interfere with audio integrity. Audio conferencing, then, tends to maintain better audio in the aggregate.

3. It is affordable – Audio conferencing solutions are among the most affordable AV technologies available. This affordability advantage is especially true now, as video conferencing solutions are in demand around the world. Audio conferencing is often seen as an inferior option if video conferencing is available, but if your teams can communicate effectively with audio conferencing technology, then the technology can be too cost-effective to pass up.

However, there’s no need to reject either video or audio conferencing in favor of the other, as both can serve in different roles for an organization.

Audio conferencing? Video conferencing? Why not both?

There’s room for most organizations to fit audio and video conferencing into a single AV solution. It may not be immediately clear why businesses and schools would consider such a move, but here are a few reasons why it makes sense:

  • Audio and video conferencing offer complementary strengths – Video conferencing may seem like the superior choice in every situation, but plenty of communication between team members can be handled without video. In these instances, audio conferencing solutions can be a viable alternative because for many people, they can set up a conference call faster than a video conference. There’s an efficiency advantage, and audio conferencing is also a good option when discussing technical material or data, as it offers excellent audio quality and clarity.
    Video conferencing has its own obvious advantages. The only way to get a true face-to-face conversation remotely is with video conferencing, and people respond well to such communication. During a video conference, it’s also easier to keep track of who is speaking. Also important, modern video conferencing solutions are designed with a lot of useful features, including the ability to connect additional devices and share content.
    Together, audio and video conferencing can do more than either one can on their own, and with both, your teams can effectively communicate the way they prefer.
  • Audio conferencing is an affordable backup plan – Even if your teams rely solely on video conferencing, an audio conferencing system ensures that they can communicate should network, hardware or user issues interfere with plan A. As audio conferencing is affordable, it makes for a low-cost, high-reliability backup when it’s needed.
  • An integrator can package together for extra cost efficiency – Audio conferencing is cost effective, and even more so when a certified integrator makes it part of a larger integration project. An AV integrator can design a larger solution where audio conferencing is just one component, and an experienced integrator can make hardware selection, placement, installation and configuration decisions that reduce the overall operational cost of audio conferencing solutions.

A Certified AV Integrator Can Build A Complete Communication Solution

Audio conferencing is still relevant and still effective, but like all AV solutions, it is most effective when it’s properly integrated into a larger AV solution and into an organization’s existing technological infrastructure. Certified AV integrators are the experts in this area and can improve your project’s outcome in the following ways:

  • By streamlining the process – Even the simplest AV solutions are rarely that simple. The system must first be visualized and designed, then obsolete technology and cables must be removed, new hardware selected and procured, and everything installed and configured. Some of these steps include additional parties that must be communicated with, like equipment vendors, and it’s inevitable that delays or roadblocks will present themselves. With a certified AV integrator overseeing the project, though, these obstacles can be mitigated without anyone in your organization wasting their time dealing with them.
  • By meeting your organization’s exact AV needs – Before embarking on an audio conferencing project, or any AV project, a certified integrator will first work to understand what their client needs from the technology. Experienced integrators place a lot of importance on planning and communication with the client because the system’s design must fulfill the client’s objectives. That’s why system design comes after consultation and not before. This way, your organization’s needs are prioritized before any design or installation begins.
  • By providing ongoing support and training – Following system integration, a certified integrator will train your people on how to use the technology to its full potential. Training introduces users to the system, and during this training, the user’s role relative to the technology is considered, so training material is developed with the audience in mind. This makes it easier for users to understand and access only the features they need, which improves user adoption and reduces the intimidation factor that comes with a new process.
    Further, AV integrators can provide ongoing support and maintenance for the solutions they implement. This includes preventive maintenance, which can identify and solve performance issues before they cause downtime.

AV moves faster than most industries, but time hasn’t passed by audio conferencing. It’s still an effective communication tool, particularly when it’s paired with other AV technologies. It’s reliable, it’s affordable and it’s proven – so it’s a worthwhile consideration for most organizations.

What Is Feedback Suppression

While schools and businesses have changed the way they communicate remotely with students and employees, one of the biggest challenges on many platforms can be audio feedback. The task then becomes identifying and finding an audio solution that enables feedback suppression.

What Is Feedback Suppression?

Feedback suppression is the act of eliminating audio feedback. AV integrators are experts at dealing with the issue and can improve feedback suppression in a variety of ways. They will consider such things as the acoustics of the room and the placement of speakers when determining the best solution.

Amidst the coronavirus pandemic, many schools and businesses are increasingly turning to specially designed audio solutions for feedback suppression. This allows meetings, class and collaboration to continue without the interference of audio feedback.

All About Audio Feedback

Whether it is in an in person, virtual, or hybrid meeting or class, it is becoming increasingly common to at some point hear a high pitch ear splitting sound, more commonly known as audio feedback.

Some situations that may cause audio feedback can include having:

  • Phone and computer audio live at the same time
  • Multiple computers with audio enabled operating at the same time in the same room
  • Speakers in too close of proximity of one another
  • A microphone too close to a speaker
  • Inefficient acoustics in a conference, meeting, or classroom space

How Audio Feedback Can Be A Hindrance at School and Work

An in-person or online class, meeting or event experiencing audio feedback presents problems that can affect its success, such as:

  • Participants turning down the volume and not turning it back up for several minutes until they are sure the sound is gone, which may result in them missing out on critical information in the meantime.
  • Participants leaving a virtual meeting thinking it is an issue on their side and then not being able to effectively return if they are not readmitted to the meeting by a moderator.
  • Participants leaving a virtual meeting if audio feedback is a recurring problem. That student or employee is then out of the loop on the information being presented.

No classroom or boardroom can risk losing the productivity of students and employees due to annoying feedback, which can be resolved with the help of an experienced AV integrator.

Audio Solutions for Feedback Suppression

As our normal routines and operations have changed since early 2020, the need for feedback suppression has increased as hybrid learning and remote video collaboration have become the new normal. When an AV integrator is called in to help, they may suggest one of the following options:

1. Biamp Crowd Mics

Biamp Crowd Mics is an app-based solution that connects classroom or meeting presenters with participants via a wireless network. Essentially, this technology allows an individual’s smartphone to become a personal microphone and a meeting engagement tool. Some of the benefits for utilizing Biamp Crowd Mics include:

  • Personal microphone access for moderators and participants
  • Text capabilities for meeting participants who do not wish to speak aloud
  • Increased control over the pace and conversation flow of a meeting by a moderator who can mute mics and open select mics
  • App-based polls to actively engage participants that also estimate a meeting’s participation levels

Another popular technology solution is Poly Headsets. These headsets are designed to be durable and are good for use in the office or at home. They offer a noise-cancelling feature and can be effective at suppressing ambient noise and feedback. Some benefits of using a Poly Headset include:

  • Clearer communication
  • Compatibility with other communication platforms such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom, GoTo, and others
  • Increased productivity as participants are not required to hold anything and will be free to work with both hands

A reputable AV integrator will offer a variety of audio-visual technologies, making them a one stop shop for schools and businesses looking for a variety of solutions that enable them to better connect with others, whether it is in an in-person, virtual, or hybrid environment.

Don’t let annoying feedback suppression hold your organization back from achieving its mission. Make audio feedback a thing of the past with the help of an experienced AV integrator that can provide the best feedback suppression options.

How Can Audio Enhancement Technology Assist With Distance Learning?

As the new school year approaches, educators are preparing for more distance learning, and looking to audio enhancement technology to improve their online lessons. With audio enhancement, students can hear the teacher better, whether that teacher is in the same room wearing a mask or delivering a lesson through a video. This has quantifiable benefits on a student’s ability to learn, as most people learn best when integrating visuals and sound together. Continue reading “How Can Audio Enhancement Technology Assist With Distance Learning?”

Why Businesses And Schools Should Be Using Conference Calling

What are the benefits of conference calling?

Conference calling is still an important form of communication for many businesses. According to Wainhouse Research, professionals participate in an average of five conference calls a week. That’s hundreds every year for just one professional, and thousands upon thousands every year for a company. Why is so much communication still being handled through conferencing calling? Continue reading “Why Businesses And Schools Should Be Using Conference Calling”

Why Should Businesses Consider An Audio Conferencing System?

Audio conferencing solutions provide excellent value to businesses, and especially those that rely on remote teams. According to research published by Global Workplace Analytics and FlexJobs, more than 40 percent of businesses do just that. That same research projects that by 2028, about 75 percent of companies will offer remote work to some of their employees. This trend isn’t slowing down, which means audio conferencing systems are still as valuable and useful as ever. Continue reading “Why Should Businesses Consider An Audio Conferencing System?”

The Importance Of Audio Quality For Conference Calls

There’s no denying the power of the conference call, and there’s plenty of statistics to back this up. They are powerful tools for retaining talented employees, according to a Stanford University study. That study found that employee turnover dropped more than 50 percent when employees were allowed to work from home and collaborate through conference calls. Continue reading “The Importance Of Audio Quality For Conference Calls”

Audio Conferencing Solutions Are Still In Demand

Though video conferencing technology is on the rise, audio conferencing solutions remain useful and commonplace. According to a Wainhouse Research survey of IT decision makers, more than 40 percent stated that they engage in multiple audio conference calls every week. More than 25 percent said they use audio conferencing daily. Continue reading “Audio Conferencing Solutions Are Still In Demand”

Experience Better Communication With An Audio Conferencing System

AV Integrated Huddle Room

An audio conferencing system has immense potential in improving communication between teams and with meeting productivity. Audio conferencing technology has come a long way in the last 20 years, and modern versions offer excellent voice quality, ease of configuration and plenty of features. With any technology, though, it’s fair to ask if it’s worth investing in. As thousands of businesses have already discovered, audio conferencing is an extremely worthwhile investment. Continue reading “Experience Better Communication With An Audio Conferencing System”

How Does A Conference Microphone Make The Meeting Different

A conference room microphone has to be easy enough for anyone to use, sensitive enough to pick up audio from any direction, and be high-quality to preserve crystal clear audio for the other end of the call. Such devices are usually only available through an audio expert, as they know how to select and set up high quality devices in any space. An AV integration company is the ideal expert in this regard, as they can integrate multiple communication technologies into a single space. Continue reading “How Does A Conference Microphone Make The Meeting Different”