Set up your meeting or conferencing room on a budget – Part 1

How to setup meeting room - Ooberpad business blog

Intro

Meetings remain an integral part of our work lives, even as we may love to hate them. The benefits they provide in terms of simplifying communication, sharing information and smoother problem solving are just very difficult for any organisation to do without.

Yet smaller organisations, startups or new businesses, which need to be more agile and respond to dynamic situations with speed, often look at these rooms as a luxury. As a result; compact, well-equipped video conference or meeting rooms are often not adopted by them until much later in their growth path. 

But with the reducing costs of many elements of a meeting or conference room and the increasing acceptance of remote meetings to achieve smooth workflows, it’s time for you to re-evaluate and reconsider the value of these rooms for your business.

We’re going to discuss our Ooberpad for Business recommendations on how your business can set up a productive and well-equipped meeting or conference for up to 8 people, on a pretty modest budget.

What do you need from your meeting room?

When teams come together, there are some things that are absolutely essential in order for them to be able to communicate and collaborate effectively. The key to putting together a good meeting room on a budget is anticipating the kind of interactions the meeting room will need to enable.

While there are a wide variety of scenarios in which teams need to get together, there are some meeting types that are more common than others…

  1. Status Update Meetings: These are aimed at ensuring that everyone is on the same page, to ensure things don’t slip through the cracks, replication of efforts or repetition of previous mistakes.
  2. Team-Building Meetings: These are aimed at building or maintaining engagement with common goals and with each other. They lead to better relationships within teams and aid the progress and growth of the organisation.
  3. Idea-Sharing Meetings: In these meetings we seek more involved discussions, interactive idea sharing and real-time conversations on a single or multiple subjects. They can lead to fresh perspectives and new ideas which lead to competitive advantage.
  4. Decision-Making Meetings: Here we usually see important business decisions being discussed in a larger group. Can spill into multiple meeting sessions with a lot of back and forth of information for more important topics.
  5. Problem-Solving Meetings: Usually called to address emergencies or sticky issues which don’t seem to go away, these meetings allow everyone to put their heads together to evaluate solutions for solving a problem.
  6. Innovation Meetings: These are usually longer and more involved discussions which take place when fresh ideas or a new direction are needed for the business. 

While it's certainly tempting, we strongly suggest that you resist thinking “all of the above” and closely consider which kinds of meetings you are more likely to need the room for. Your choices in terms of equipment and budgets required will depend a lot on what you decide here. Involving your team in this stage of clarifying requirements is also a good idea.

It is also important to keep in mind who the participants in the meetings will be – will it be just your team or will clients visit too, to what extent do you expect to interact with remote participants using video conferencing? 

Once your specific organisational needs are clarified then you can move onto the next step, which is designing the best conference or meeting room for your business.

What gear do you need?

When you’re on a budget, you need to make some difficult choices in terms of what you can have and what you cannot. But don’t worry, we’ll help make the ones that will ensure the best ROI for your business. 

Do keep in mind that our suggestions are intended for audiences of 6-8 people, because most 2-3 person meetings can work pretty well with just a laptop on a table.

One of the key things to consider is to what extent you need to have video calls as part of your everyday workflows. This is because video calls require some additional care to ensure high quality of collaboration.

  1. Mostly in-person meetings, less VC

The Display: A great display can go a long way in terms of improving the experience for participants, especially when you are sharing certain types of content that require detail — spreadsheets, maps or blueprints for instance. 

Get the largest display you can manage, and keep in mind that flat screens will work better than projectors if you cannot control the lights.

Oober Picks:

Type of Device Projector Flat Screen
Product Name
Epson S41 Elite Manual M100x
What stands out? High Lumens 3300 160 degree wide viewing angle

 

The Audio: Sound is often an underrated aspect of the meeting experience, especially in smaller meeting rooms. However, good audio makes a considerable difference when you have to share video content or when you are audio or video conferencing. It can be a relatively inexpensive investment with good returns.

Oober Pick:

Type of Device Projector
Product Name
Poly Studio X30
What stands out? Comes with Inbuild Webcam

The Camera: Almost any meeting room today needs to allow video calls from time to time. The camera, which determines the quality of the image in video calls, is therefore an important component. If your video calling needs are limited, then a budget 720p camera should be good enough, and can be incorporated near your display to accommodate all the room participants. 

Oober Picks:

Type of Device Webcam Webcam
Product Name
Logitech Brio Poly EagleEye Mini HD
What stands out? 4K Resolution 1080 Full HD Resolution

Connectivity: A good table with built in power and connectivity interfaces will go a long way towards ensuring greater convenience for the participants and smoother functioning of your meetings. This can be made even simpler by incorporating wireless presenting as an option, which we will discuss in part 2 of this series.

Video calling setup: Laptops are an affordable platform for video calling in basic meeting room setups, as they utilise soft VC solutions like Zoom, Webex, Microsoft Teams etc. They can be connected to the display for a larger image and their in built audio is sufficient for 2-3 person calling.

Oober Picks:

Type of Device Cloud VC Solutions Cloud VC Solutions
Product Name
Zoom Webex
What stands out? User Interface Security

  1. b) Mostly VC, less in-person meetings

Internet Connectivity: This may be important to us anyway, but smooth video calls will require good bandwidth so make sure you have a reliable fibre connection and internet plan. You may want to dedicate some bandwidth to video when necessary. A good wireless router becomes an important part of your room’s infrastructure and is a prerequisite for effective video collaboration.

The Display: When video-conferencing is involved, then dual displays are usually a better option. This allows more natural interactions as the people you are collaborating with are visible even as you are sharing content for more involved discussions.

Get the largest display you can manage, and keep in mind that flat screens will work better than projectors if you cannot control the lights.

Oober Picks:

Type of Device Dual Monitors Projector + Flat Screen
Product Name
Samsung DC32E Epson X41 + Elite M100X
What stands out? Supports 16/7 operation Lumens and Build quality

The Camera: If you are collaborating with video extensively then a better 1080p PTZ camera may be a better choice than a basic webcam. This allows for better framing of participants and also provides additional features like Rightsense Automation.

Oober Picks: 

Type of Device PTZ Camera
Product Name
Logitech Rally
What stands out? Rightsense Automation

Connectivity: When video calling is the priority, it may be a good idea to invest in an All-in One solution which includes audio, microphone and connectivity in a single package. The Crestron Mercury or Flex is one such solution, which offers integration with Zoom or MS Teams (different versions). Wireless connectivity and room scheduling is also supported.

Oober Picks: 

Type of Device PTZ Camera
Product Name
Crestron Flex UC-M50-UA
What stands out? Intuitive Touch Screen UX

The Audio: With larger groups in video calls, people seated a little further from the microphone may not be heard clearly. In such situations it may be best to install extension microphones to improve audio pickup, though this may also require a DSP to ensure echo cancellation and help in audio tuning.

Oober Picks: Shruthi

Type of Device Table Microphone All-in-One
Product Name
Clock Audio C 003E-RF Crestron Mercury
What stands out? Omni-Directional Polar Pattern Tabletop AV conferencing solution for UC platforms

So, what’s next?

When you are choosing the best equipment for your new meeting or conferencing room, its best to begin with the key components that will impact your collaboration experience. In this blog we’ve covered these key aspects in some detail, but there is still some more to consider so that you can get the best out of your investments. 

In the Part 2 of this series (coming soon), we will discuss room acoustics, lighting, shades and curtains, equipment organisation and other intangibles which are also important in a well-designed conference room.

Next article Home Theatre: Why two (or more) subwoofers may be better than one

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