Meeting rooms can be as unique as the companies they serve and reflect as much character as the employees who occupy them. But they are more than a reflection—they are spaces that foster the work you want to get done. In a Capital One survey, 79 percent of employees said companies need to provide an innovative work environment if they are going to encourage innovation.
When it comes to fitting collaboration spaces with technology, there are some basic design principles that should be followed. Unfortunately, there are some common mistakes that can spoil the meeting experience for years to come. Read on to learn about 10 meeting design mistakes that are easy to make—and how to avoid them.
1. Poor microphone placement
Optimal microphone placement and positioning depends on the size of your room, the number of intended speakers or participants, and the types of meetings that will be held in the room. Poor placement can contribute to echo, feedback or even voices not being able to be heard. Does the room require voice lift or just the ability to send the audio externally? Voice lift introduces even more complexity in that consideration must be taken to ensure the levels are adequate within the space without causing feedback.
2. Poor microphone choice
There are a lot of options when it comes to microphones in collaboration spaces: goosenecks, tabletop, boundary, and ceiling mics are just some of the types of mics you can choose from. You may also get to choose between wired or wireless options. If you choose the wrong kind, wires may get in the way or the mic itself can get in the way of meeting participants’ papers or devices. Additionally, they may not pick up sound in the right parts of the room, or they may be an eyesore. A good design may make use of various types of microphones—using the best option for that part of the room. You may have a boardroom with a central table and chairs around the perimeter, gooseneck microphones may be the best option for the table participants, whereas they would be impractical for the perimeter, so pendant microphones may be the best choice for that coverage. Always remember though, that regardless of manufacturer’s claims, there is a trade-off between aesthetics and performance—the nearer you can get the microphone to the participant’s mouth the better.
3. Wrong display size
Big is not always better. A display that is too large for the room leaves people straining to see what’s on all parts of the screen, and one that is too small will have meeting participants squinting in frustration. To choose the right size, consider the viewing distance, viewing angle, and the type of content the presenters will be displaying. If the main purpose of the room is to review commercials for an ad agency, you just need a good size to display video, whereas if the room is in a medical school and will be used to view medical imagery, a high-definition, large screen will almost always be a better choice.
4. Poor lighting design
If all your lighting comes from one place—typically up above—people at the far end of the room won’t be evenly lit and can look washed out or shadowy. It’s important to try to create a warm lighting environment with even illumination. You can achieve that by making sure light comes from various sources and by striking a balance between ceiling lighting and slightly reflective surfaces that can bounce some of that light up. Also, if the lighting intensity is too high or low, it can affect meeting participant interest or productivity. Lighting is a large part of room aesthetics, affecting the environment and how employees feel about being there.
5. Hard surfaces in room
Meeting rooms with marble furniture and glass walls may look elegant, but they wreak havoc on acoustics. These surfaces reflect sound which cause echo, requiring sound absorption and more expensive technology to salvage room acoustics. There are some simple tips to use in even these spaces. Consider using drapes rather than shades, place some absorbent wall art between adjacent walls, and even use upholstered furniture to absorb some of the sound waves.
6. Poor camera placement
Poor camera placement can make it difficult to show all of the meeting participants in the room. If it’s placed too high or too low, the angle may be unflattering or impractical. The best place is at eye level where participants can look for more natural exchange with remote participants.
7. Reflective surfaces
Reflective surfaces can make images hard to see for meeting participants. Whether they reflect into people’s eyes or create a glare on the room display, they can affect the quality of meetings. And if you’re using cameras, shiny furniture can cause light spots in the camera image or even shut down the camera iris so that a dark image is sent to remote participants. Always face cameras away from windows and away from ‘busy backgrounds.’ aside from it providing a distraction to any remote viewers, a video codec will use a lot of processing power to transmit a busy trading floor in the background of a camera shot.
8. Lack of shades or drapes
Without the right window treatments in a meeting room, meeting participants may risk compromising privacy or wasting energy. Shades or drapes let you better manage natural light which can affect the view of your room’s display, and they can provide sound absorption.
9. Poor user interface placement
If meeting room controls are poorly placed, the presenter may have to interrupt the meeting to adjust meeting room technology, or they may even resort to asking others in the room to adjust the lights or even start the presentation on a laptop. Always try and place the touchpanel within easy reach of the majority of presenters.
10. Poor user connectivity placement
If users can’t tell how to connect to meeting room equipment or—worse—have to track down cables or adaptors, they will not have a positive user experience. Everything users need to connect to technology in the room—whether it be a passcode, a cable, or to be on the right wifi—should be obvious and easily accessible.
If you can avoid these 10 meeting room design mistakes, you’re setting up your organization’s employees for great meeting experiences. If you see some room for improvement, please contact us with questions or for a consultation.