Top 5 conference room equipment must-haves
Focused. Professional. Effective. These are three examples of positive adjectives that people use to describe what they consider to be a ‘good’ company or business. We would dare to claim that most companies and brands want to be perceived this way and try their best to communicate these values at most major touchpoints. One often-overlooked touchpoint is a company’s meeting or conference facilities; the space guests (clients, suppliers, partners etc.) visiting the company offices are likely to be in.
The conference room is a place where you can score some easy points when conducting business.
Let’s face it, a lot of conference rooms suck. Sure, there is coffee and snacks and the chairs are really comfortable, but when it comes to actually using the room for its intended purpose– getting the slide deck to show up on the screen, getting the audio to work, connecting to that one person who is joining remotely – the conference room becomes a place where awkward and frustrating experiences are made.
On the other hand, having a conference room that just works without the stress and the hassle, and no matter if it’s being used for online or offline meetings, is an excellent way of helping your employees stay focused on the job at hand; having an effective meeting with positive results. If employees are having a meeting with clients or partners, a meeting that is off to a flying start without technical issues makes a great first impression and sends a signal that you’re a no-nonsense type of company where things are streamlined and effective. In other words; focused, professional and efficient.
By now you are hopefully ready to say goodbye to anger-inducing experiences in your conference room and ready to learn more about the tools and products you need to make your conference room awesome.
AV Control Systems – The possibilities
One of the tech products you can integrate into your conference room is an AV control system, which is a smart way of managing TV screens, audio, lights and any other devices in the room automatically. AV control systems are considered to be the brains behind an AV system for commercial or education settings. come in several forms and can handle different levels of complexity. Some basically look like black boxes with wires and cables coming out; others look like keypads, and others have a touch panel interface the size of a smartphone or tablet.
An AV control system such as a keypad is typically placed on the wall, either near the TV or the surface you place your laptop to connect to other devices. Neets’ larger touch panels, the 7” and the 10” Touch Panels, can also be placed directly on a table by mounting them on our Table Stand.
An AV control system is normally installed by a professional AV integrator and can be configured to perform all sorts of functions. These functions are determined by the needs of individual clients and their equipment setup. Some examples of functions are:
- Turning TV on and off
- Turning the volume up and down
- Rolling projector screen up and down
- Turning projector on and off
- Turning webcam/microphone on and off
- Connecting to a signal, for example, a laptop, as soon as someone plugs in an HDMI / USB cable
- Turning a TV or projector on automatically as soon as a laptop is connected with a cable
This setup ensures that all the equipment in a conference room can be controlled from one central location and using just one device. Another advantage is that you can have several laptops connected simultaneously; you can simply switch between signals with the push of a button. No more wasting time downloading everyone’s presentations onto one laptop, people switching seats and pulling cables in and out when it’s their turn to present. In a situation where several people need to present something on-screen, the whole setup suddenly becomes a lot more streamlined and efficient.
In a setup where there is a projector in the room, an AV control system solves yet another challenge. It would no longer be necessary to climb up onto a chair, table or ladder to press the buttons on the projector. The control system can perform all the required functions - and it is installed in a place a human of average height can reach!
If all this talk of control systems has confused you, or if you consider it as going overboard with technology in the conference room– don’t worry. You don’t need to understand the details of how it works, as everything is taken care of by professionals. Furthermore, there are several types of AV control systems, varying in size, price range and complexity. You can find the solution that works for your room and your needs. In an extremely digitalized workplace, technology is playing a more important role than ever, and it’s important to use it to your advantage.
Touch Panels – An elegant and exclusive AV control solution
Keypad control systems are an excellent installation in smaller rooms or learning spaces. However, if you would prefer a solution with smarter tech and a more exclusive look, you would benefit from a touch panel installation in your conference room. A touch interface is much more powerful than a keypad and allows you to perform more complex functions than pushing a button. A keypad is limited to performing the same number of functions as the number of buttons. A touch panel gives you many more possibilities. A professional AV integrator can design a touch panel interface to have several ‘layers’ of functions, making it a perfect solution for rooms where many different types of AV equipment are used.
Cable management tech – eliminating cable chaos
One of the ways to ensure that your conference room looks organized and professional is to invest in a cable management system. Nothing looks worse than a room with cables and wires draping over the chairs and tables and trailing all over the floor. It looks untidy and chaotic and makes life difficult for the people who use the room. Cable chaos makes it hard to figure out which devices the cables belong to, which are the right cables to use etc.
Several types of tech products and accessories can help you bring order to the cable chaos. Some TVs, projectors and speakers can be connected to using wireless streaming devices, apps or even Bluetooth. Most people, however, still connect to these devices the traditional way; using cables. This means that there are usually several cables trailing down walls and hanging down from the ceiling. Few people think this looks particularly nice. It can also be very impractical if someone trips over the cables and them out by mistake, not to mention a possible violation of corporate Health & Safety policies.
There is a solution, however. You can conceal wires and cables by having specially-designed wall plates installed (such as the Neets Input Panels). These provide you with a way to connect a laptop to other devices (such as TV/projector/sound system) in an elegant way, without having cables dangling all over the place. Such an installation would be conveniently located on the wall close to where you sit with your laptop, and all you would need to do is use a short cable to connect to the required device. Input panels are available with different types of inputs: USB, HDMI, VGA, AUX etc. The type of input depends on the type of device you are connecting with.
Another solution is installing a table well (such as the Neets MiniConnect) in the conference room. The table well passes power cables and other necessary connections through a desk for easy and quick access. The cables are retractable, so they are hidden away when they are not in use. More advanced versions of table wells, such as the Neets Easy Connect - Control contain an AC power connector, standard cable connectors (such as USB, HDMI, audio minijack and an Ethernet cable) AND a keypad control system so that everything can be managed directly from the desk or conference room table. Pretty smart, right?
Cable management is adding the final touch to an AV solution in a conference room; making the room look more elegant, visually appealing and user-friendly at the same time.
Eliminate logistical nightmares with conference room booking systems
The logistical nightmares associated with double-booked rooms and the hunt for a free conference room in the office building can also be eliminated with some smart tech products. Imagine having led a client to the meeting room you booked, only to walk in and find another team in the middle of their meeting! It’s embarrassing and unprofessional, distracting and time-consuming!
It would be a game-changer to invest in one of the many meeting room booking solutions on the market. There are many benefits to installing such a system:
- Users will not need to learn how to use another app/software. Most conference room booking systems integrate with email & calendar systems such as Microsoft Outlook or G Suite, meaning it that users can book meeting rooms through a familiar software.
- Maximize resources. It can very frustrating for employees to see that meeting rooms are booked in the system, only to walk past and see many of them empty because the meeting was cancelled. Some booking systems also have a check-in function, meaning that meetings are cancelled automatically after a certain amount of time, freeing up the room.
Of course, a meeting/conference room booking system requires a physical product – typically a touch panel or tablet – outside the room to show the room availability. Available rooms can also be booked directly from the touch panel.
Conference room design that supports technology
All the tech products we have described can help you make your conference room smarter. Of course, it’s important to have the right layout, design and furnishings in the room to support your smart tech system. It would be a pity to install the best products the AV tech world can offer, only for people to sit uncomfortably or be unable to hear properly because of poor design and acoustics. Every aspect of the conference should reflect quality. Technology, interior design and all the other small but important details contribute to a positive holistic experience. Something as irrelevant as an ugly or uncomfortable chair could be the one thing guests remember when they leave the conference room, despite all the smart tech that makes the room so usable.
Conference room layout and design play a huge role in the overall experience of a meeting. The conference room's design must match the room's purpose.
For example, if the room is meant to be used for video conferencing:
- the conference room table must have the right shape and size
- the webcam and microphones must be placed in strategic locations so that everybody can be seen and heard clearly
- lighting (lights and curtains) must be adjustable to ensure optimal lighting conditions in the room
- Disturbing elements, such as the conference room door, should not be visible through the webcam
In this article, we gave you an overview of 5 products we believe are a must-have in any type of meeting room or conference room. These tech products will transform the meeting experience for users; changing conference rooms from places people dread to be in into places where people feel confident, focused and ready to be productive.