In the corporate world, an estimated 11 million business meetings take place every day. However, many of these meetings lack the equipment and planning to proceed with peak productivity. The cost of poorly organized meetings is known to cost companies a jaw-dropping $399 billion a year.
One essential element of a well-organized meeting is the partnership of audiovisual equipment and audio-friendly design within the conference room. Audio equipment is crucial to fostering efficient communication in the conference room, but the design of the conference room itself must also support the optimal functioning of the equipment. For example, modern office spaces value open spaces, large windows, and a sleek design. These layouts encourage productivity and creativity but tend to muddle sound clarity, meaning that they may not be the best choice for an audio-friendly conference room.
Fortunately, you do not need to sacrifice a modern, open layout for the sake of ideal audio. You can have the best of both worlds — style and efficiency — with these tips to create a more audio-friendly conference room.
Why Prioritize an Audio-Friendly Conference Room?
Savvy companies utilize every tool at their disposal to empower their employees’ best work, up to and including improvements to the quality of audio within their conference room. Studies show that 95% of audio users experience pain points that negatively impact their efficiency in the workplace. The proper audio equipment and sound design can minimize the average of 29 minutes lost per week due to poor sound quality. A mere 29 minutes a week may not seem like much at first, but this equates to over three full days of lost time for each employee per year.
Decreased productivity isn’t the only consequence of poor audio quality in the conference room. Besides appearing unprofessional, technical difficulties can cause misheard information from clients, leading to dissatisfied customers and potential financial loss from incorrectly performed tasks.
Furthermore, as the upward trend of remote work takes the business world by storm, audio quality must move to the forefront of conference room design. Properly implemented audio equipment has the power to build stronger relationships between in-office and remote employees. On the other hand, improperly implemented equipment can create barriers and seriously hinder collaboration.
How Can I Make My Conference Room More Audio-Friendly?
Given the importance of maximizing your employees’ productivity, collaboration, and creativity, office spaces should utilize every opportunity available to foster an audio-friendly conference room. Professional audiovisual integrators can assess your conference room’s size, layout, and design to discern the most effective way to transform its audio capabilities.
If your team is experiencing frequent audio pain points in the workplace, there is still room to improve your audio system’s functionality. Give your employees the gift of an audio-friendly conference room by implementing these strategies for clear audio input and output.
1. Use Soft Surfaces
Sound is a vibration, and hard surfaces reflect soundwaves, negatively impacting your room’s acoustics. Soundwaves bounce off many common meeting room surfaces such as glass windows, whiteboards, drywall, and bare wooden floors. When a sound wave reflects, it is called reverberation. An excess of reverberation creates a build-up of sound that makes each slight noise, from the tapping of pens to the shuffling of feet, seem louder, distracting or outright overpowering the presenter’s voice.
A change in the design of your conference room can quickly mitigate this issue. To begin with, replace or cushion hard surfaces with soft surfaces. While you may not be able to alter inset floor-to-ceiling windows, you could hang curtains to soften the sound. Replace hard chairs with softer, cloth-covered chairs. If the conference room floor is composed of hard material, consider putting down a rug or carpeting. These simple touches will improve the acoustics and still allow you to choose options that fit with the aesthetics of your space.
2. Conference Room Furnishings
Although minimalist decor is en vogue, this style can diminish the sound quality of your conference room. As we mentioned, sound waves bounce off hard-surfaced walls and furniture, creating an echo that decreases sound quality and causes interruptions. When the enclosed space is largely empty or bare, this effect only worsens.
With effective interior design, these issues are simple to circumvent. The addition of strategically placed objects such as plants or art pieces can help interrupt bouncing sound waves and decrease echo.
3. Install Sound Dampening Panels
In addition to revamping the decor itself, audiovisual integrators can install fixtures that further improve the sound system of your conference room. Acoustic panels, sometimes referred to as sound-dampening panels, use fabric or foam to minimize ambient noise. Plus, they are a relatively inexpensive way to update your conference room since the installation process simply entails affixing them to the existing walls or the ceiling.
The majority of audiovisual integrators recommend at least 15% coverage for optimal audio quality, but the amount of panels required for optimal sound is ultimately dependent on the size of your conference room.
4. Install Your Audio Equipment Strategically
Any audio-friendly conference room design must partner with high-quality audio equipment. And although conference rooms may appear completely different from one to the next, they all require certain essential audio equipment, including microphones, speakers, and a control system.
However, even if you choose top-notch audio equipment, that does not mean a guarantee that your team is exempt from experiencing audio pain points. For ideal results, the audio equipment must be placed strategically throughout the space. For instance, if a microphone is nearest to the presenter, it won’t be as sensitive to extraneous noise throughout the room. When you enlist the assistance of audiovisual integration specialists, they can discern the precise placement of your conference room’s audio equipment for optimum performance.
5. Utilize High-Quality Microphones
Without premium audio equipment, you can’t expect excellent sound quality in your conference room, and microphones are among the most important. There are certain benefits inherent to high-quality microphones that subpar microphones cannot match. For instance, a high-quality microphone will have qualities like ambient noise immunity, omnidirectional capabilities, and natural sound.
Microphones equipped with ambient noise immunity can block distracting noises like tapping pens, air conditioners, and rustling papers. Ambient noise immunity allows microphones to focus directly on the presenter’s voice, encouraging optimal audibility, communication, and understanding. Omnidirectional capabilities, meanwhile, ensure that the microphones follow the speaker’s movements, and natural sound allows the microphones to enhance the speaker’s voice in a relaxed way.
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