What Do You Need In A Conference Room?

Posted by Chris Stephens on 10/15/2013

What do you need in a Conference Room?

When I set out to write today’s blog, I first thought of writing a grand exposé on how today’s conference room is the hub of global communication and collaboration.  I began to expound on the myriad of potential uses, and it got wordy…and ugly…so let’s make it simple…

“How do you use your conference room?”  Or maybe even more importantly, “How would you like to use your conference room?”

The title of this blog is “What do you need in a conference room” but frankly, I will never ask you that.  What I want to know is, “how do you want to use your conference room?”  Only then will I know how to guide you in designing “what” to use in your conference room.

Do you simply want to display PowerPoint presentations?  Or maybe you need to interface globally via video conferencing with partners from around the world.  Perhaps you need a collaboration environment where multiple users can utilize a display (or displays) to share ideas and creativity.  You see, a conference room can have as many diverse uses as there are diverse companies using them.  Every company has an individual personality and every conference room will be used based on that personality.

So, lets talk about some of the basic technologies available.

Displays

Nearly every (although not all) conference room needs a display of some sort.  HDTV displays are great for smaller conference rooms, while projectors and screens are still a primary technology for larger conference rooms.  Perhaps you need to have multiple inputs that can be easily switched between.  What are these inputs?  Laptops or local PC’s, DVD or Blu Ray players, Cable TV boxes, camera systems, etc. are all potential inputs types.  Look at your workflow…what are you using?

Audio

Audio systems can be vital for many conference rooms.  Do you have presentations or conferencing where audio will be necessary?

Conferencing Technologies

If audio conferencing was the way of the past, then perhaps video conferencing is your way of the future!  Video can communicate in ways that audio never could, but in the past video conferencing was a tremendous expense.  While enterprise level video conferencing can still be quite expensive, it can also reduce a company’s travel expenses in ways that may make up for the cost, sometimes many times over.  In addition, services like Skype, Go To Meeting and other online services are bringing large scale video meetings to the masses.  Going forward, we expect to see quite a few new technologies that will build upon the idea of “scalable” video conferencing, allowing for low cost video conferencing rollouts throughout your organization.

Control Systems

Complex technologies can be frustrating to try and manage and there is no killer of meeting like not being able to figure out how to configure your AV System.  Enter…the Control System!  Control systems from companies like Crestron or AMX (among others) can make complex systems easy and intuitive to control.

Lighting

Wait…lighting?  Isn’t this an AV blog?  Lighting can be a vital part of your meeting.  Proper lighting can make video conferencing much more appealing.  It can bring life to a meeting, or add ambiance to a presentation.  Poor lighting can be tiring and distracting.  Lighting should always be a consideration.

Ok…so it’s still a little wordy…but here’s the point: before you go looking online at the myriad of equipment options, do yourself a favor and ask yourself “how do we really want to use this space”.  By knowing what it is you want to accomplish, your AV partner can help guide you to the right system to meet your goal.