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Don’t let the AV dominate the meeting room discussion

Reliability key to maximising meetings, explains James Hill, Shure UK director, integrated systems sales

investing in an AV conferencing solution is a major undertaking for enterprises, and yet no matter how much is spent on the latest software and hardware, user uptake can still be slow. This is often because of recurring issues with sound and image quality, the perception that setup time is too long, and users being wary of technology that they feel will hinder, rather than help, them do their jobs.

Indeed, we’ve all been in the situation where we’ve tried to make an AV conference call only to experience interrupted audio and poor image quality. On a call with a colleague this is frustrating, but when communicating with clients or pitching to potential new clients, the effect can be much more serious and give a lasting poor impression of a company.

It can be hard to overcome these perceptions of AV conferencing calls as hindering productivity but, with the right technology, getting buy-in from colleagues and increasing user uptake is a natural outcome.

Imagine a scenario where a colleague has managed to schedule a call with a potential new client they’ve been chasing for months. Now imagine the call starts and is immediately plagued by low-quality audio meaning neither side is able to fully understand what the other is saying. In this situation it’s impossible to be fully engaged with what is being said. The talker will almost certainly be aware that they are not coming across clearly but will often have no idea how to fix the problem, while at the far end, the listener will be concentrating so much on trying to decipher individual words, they’ll miss the overall point of the call.

Now let’s turn that scenario on its head; the initial call with a potential client is scheduled, the pitch is fine-tuned and the user is confident that the AV conferencing equipment will work without having to call in tech support. Immediately, that’s one less thing to worry about in what can be a stressful situation. The call begins and the conversation is immediate, natural and interactive – the talker’s voice is able to come through with all of its power and conversation can flow.

This is the effect of having the right technology: it empowers talkers as they know that they can be heard and they won’t have to repeat key points or speak in an unnatural way in order to be understood. And this is a crucial point about technology: it needs to work with users, not against them. Users shouldn’t have to focus on employing good microphone technique, or wonder whether they’ll still be heard if they decide to present from a central display rather than at a table, close to a mic. Their experience should be intuitive, reliable and productive to the point where they enjoy AV calls and see true value in them over other means of communication. Once an organisation reaches this level of AV conferencing, not only will clients have a better impression of your business, but employees will be able to perform better and focus on winning those new clients.

The best technology is so effective and so unobtrusive that those using it simply don’t have to think about it, they just understand that it works. It’s here that ceiling arrays such as the Shure Microflex Advance MXA910 can have a major impact on user experience, enabling users to talk, move and act naturally without having to accommodate the technology around them, meaning the focus is entirely on the talker’s voice. This simplicity for the user in turn increases uptake, a key marker of success in any AV install.

In the end, good corporate communication is about enabling your voice to be heard and ensuring other people perceive you in a positive manner. If you want the full impact of your company’s message to be heard by customers, employees, suppliers, partners and peers then you need to pay attention to audio and invest in a positive user experience.