Thanks for checking out this post, the first of five in our series focused on helping you design a video conferencing room and not get fired in the process. At the conclusion of this series, we will summarize the series in our top five items to remember.
The team and I would love to get your feedback. Did we miss anything?
Today I want to focus on a simplified checklist – How to optimize a video conferencing room setup. In a later post in this series we will take a look at design elements in greater detail and why good design matters.
The goal of this article is to help you setup a video conference room that does not break your budget, provides optimal use and satisfaction for your internal customers and delivers against a promise of a perfect video conference experience, every time. This checklist can be applied to any sized room and will help you plan for a flawless deployment.
It is always our goal to deliver on the promise of an immersive, flexible and easy-to-use video conferencing experience, but without proper planning, that can fail quickly and lead to massive dissatisfaction. This is just the starting point, so let’s begin.
- Make it pretty, make it pop! The color palette, furnishes, wall finishes, lighting and the room itself matters. These factors harken back 20 years and to video conferencing 101 – but should not be glossed over even though the equipment of today helps correct many of the historical show-stoppers. Look for more on this in the third post of this series: Video Conference Design, 5 Things to Consider.
- Consider your audience – both near and far. Camera placement and TV layouts will impact a local view of content sharing as well as the view for far-end participants. Does your camera placement provide the most natural viewing angle? Will the folks in the room be motivated to look across the table or toward the screen and what impact does that have on camera view? We often suggest sound from the far end of the video call come from the camera wall, so that during a call there is a “look me in the eye” experience, rather than when on a voice call the sound usually comes out of the center speaker phone- more akin to the “huddle room” experience. Know what your users want and expect; place the camera appropriately. Understand the limits of the technology and train users for the planned outcome. If these two are not aligned, dissatisfied customers are generally the result.
- Share content and get more out of the room. Many room designs assume the room will be used for standard meetings or voice-only and (gasp) that video conferencing will not be the only function of that room. Be sure to plan for multiple uses of the room. There should inputs and content sharing options that are intuitive, flexible and allow for anyone – especially guests – to connect without having to call IT. Some factors to take into consider:
- Wired, or wireless contents sharing?
- Accommodate VGA or just HDMI?
- Do connection dongles disappear or will they confuse your user group?
- How much automation do you require and do you have a budget for that?
- What wires are needed, who runs them and who repairs them?
Plan for flexibility in the use of the room multiple uses of the room and your video conference room will function for any user, not just the power user.
- Integration helps with adoption and simple scheduling is an asset in that pursuit. Immersive conference rooms that are easy to use become popular. Expensive conference rooms that are complicated deter use. Assuming we are headed for the former, plan for calendar integration with visitor sign-in applications, wall boards or scheduling tools. We have seen growing amounts of applications that assume integration to the leading video conferencing bridges so that booking a resource also helps your users manage access to these rooms. Check with your team about any expectations they have around schedule management and room access visibility.
- Plan for scale. We find price points have come down so dramatically and the flexibility of the equipment has increased so much that we no longer have to plan for just one special expensive room for just a few special people. Today all rooms – big or small – can be equipped for HD video conferencing. Develop an integrated video conferencing plan for all huddle rooms, open spaces, conference rooms and training facilities. If you have all rooms in mind during the planning process, it will help shape your technology choices so that your partner and solution of choice meets the needs of any room you choose.
These are the top five considerations I wanted to post here, but there are others. The list below rounds out our top 10 checklist items. We will be addressing these points in greater detail during the remainder of our series, but these highlights speak for themselves.
- Involve your stakeholders. This will be discussed in further detail later, but if you don’t have full participation of the key stakeholders, someone is very likely to have an opinion AFTER the fact, and it might not be one that works for the design and plan you have chosen.
- Have a trusted partner and a solid plan. This will be key for training, documentation, deployment and support as much as it is key for the up-front decisions around the technology and solution chosen.
- Know the problems you are solving and stick to a plan. This speaks for itself, but we will discuss this further on the webinar.
- Design your budget and choose a vendor that will guarantee their work.
- Take a test drive and ask your friends.
I hope this post has been helpful and thank you for taking the time to check us out.