Meeting & Conference Rooms: AV System Needs Analysis
Modern meeting and conference rooms require technology that can keep up with the ever-expanding list of mobile devices and presentation platforms. While no technology is ever truly future-proof, a well-designed system will pay for itself in the long run by allowing flexibility and expansion. The first step in creating AV systems for such a space is performing a needs analysis with the client, learning the basic requirements of the space.
Understand How the Space is to be Used and the Various Configurations of the Space
- Understanding how the users intend to work in the space is crucial to a successful meeting space design. The needs for video conferencing are somewhat different than a space that is only intended for ‘one-way’ presentations (e.g., a lecture hall or presentation room).
- Planning for various room layouts, whether it’s a classroom setup, small clusters of users sharing content within their groups, or a video-conferencing/content sharing/collaboration space. Each layout will bring specific equipment types and locations.
Display Sizes and Viewing Distances
- Once room layouts have been determined, the location and size of displays (and the technology to be utilized) can be determined. This can lead to a single, large-format display at the front of the room (such as a lecture hall), or multiple displays scattered about the space. A critical component of display locations and sizes is also room lighting, including the ambient lighting from windows and doors that may interfere with viewing.
User Device Considerations
- Planning ahead for the various methods that users may have for sharing presentations or other content is crucial. AV system design must account for a wide variety of devices, without becoming so generic that it is crippled by choices. The best systems adapt seamlessly from one device type to another.
Audio and Video Conferencing Needs
- If the pandemic has shown us anything, it’s that the work will still get done with people working remotely. This trend that was driven by at-home work teams is likely to continue. Providing conferencing technology that works for the whole team is key.
Audio and Acoustics
- Ensuring that all the meeting attendees can hear and understand the presenter requires an understanding of both the room layouts and the various uses. This information will lead to proper speaker type and location selections. One often overlooked aspect of room design is the acoustics of such a room and understanding how the chosen materials can impact the meeting environment.
User Networks and the Internet
- Working with the client’s IT staff can make all the difference in properly configuring a presentation/conferencing system. Many client networks have firewalls and other security systems in place that may make video-conferencing or content sharing difficult (if not impossible) without advanced network configuration.
Power Usage and Locations
- While this seems like a little item, there is no presentation sharing, video conferencing, sound system, etc. without electricity. AV system designers must work with the site’s electrical contractors to ensure the right amount of power is available at the right location.
Following these guidelines can help the client and the AV system designer ensure that they understand how the room will function and result in a generally more successful meeting environment.