By: Amy Bean Napier
Conference rooms are not the most exciting space in the office. Staff usually perceives them as a place they are required to go, sit for an hour or so, and listen to others talk about something they may or may not be interested in. Eyes glazing over and imitations of being fully awake and listening, while zoning out and thinking of other things, seem to thrive in this important room. Kind of sounds like rehab doesn’t it?
Recently we decided to upgrade our conference room technology to help make it a more stimulating place to be. We hold bi-weekly staff meetings that are required for all 28 staff members (internal and external) as well as many smaller team meetings each week in this room. And we’ve had our fair share of eye glazing and head nodding going on in at any given time. So we felt investing in some new, fun technology might help keep our staff awake, aware and excited about being in those important meetings!
Updating your conference room is about as much fun as most home improvement projects. But by planning in advance, you will know what you need to do, how it should work, what your budget is and the timeline you are trying to meet. But just like home improvement projects (and rehab), things don’t always go as planned.
I could easily give you 20 tips on what not to do when upgrading your conference room technology but instead I will share 4 tips on how to rehab your conference room without all the hassles that we experienced:
- Bring in the Experts – Find local partners that have expertise in not only technology and audio visual equipment but specifically the equipment you are looking to purchase for your business as well as installation. Share with them what you are trying to accomplish with this equipment and how you plan to use it.
- Size is Important – Ask these experts to visit your office and show them the office space that you want to update. Then ask them to give you recommendations on what equipment will work best in your specific space. Order exactly what they recommend as bigger is not always better, at least in this setting!
The electronic smart board that we purchased for our conference room was quite large and our ceilings are not high so the LCD projectors we purchased would not project the picture correctly onto the screen when they were installed in the ceiling. We purchased and installed three LCD projectors before we finally found one that would work with our smart board.
- Get Wired – In today’s world, we all assume that every room in an office has all the wiring that it needs to run any piece of equipment. While the basics are usually already present in a conference room (networking, phone, cable, etc.), you may need to add some additional connections to make it function correctly with your new equipment.
We had all the right connections in our conference room already but not enough of them and none in the right places. So we had to bring in an electrician to move and install some new wiring and jacks behind where we were installing the smart board so that everything could be connected directly. We also wanted to keep the existing connections on the back wall so we could utilize them for other purposes (like setting up a temporary workstation in the conference room for part time help).
- Installation Day – Once you have everything ordered, delivered and wired, schedule installation of all the equipment on the same day. This allows you to test everything at the same time to make sure that it all communicates together and works as it should. And if it doesn’t, you have all the experts there at the same time to figure out why it’s not and who needs to do what to get it working.
Ensure that this team of experts has all the equipment and accessories they will need at hand and clear out room in that area for them to work. Then leave them alone and let them do their job. Once they get everything set up and working correctly, they will be excited to show it to you and teach you how it works!
Our conference room upgrade included installing a 77 inch Panasonic PanaBoard (electronic interactive whiteboard) with embedded PC (computer), a ceiling mounted BenQ LCD projector, a Clear One MAX Wireless Conference phone system, a wireless keyboard and mouse plus a TV with cable (great for watching all those FSU football, basketball, baseball games without having to power up all the other equipment).
The process took longer than we planned and cost more than we budgeted but we are very happy with the end results. Does it keep our staff awake and alert during meetings? Yes for now because it’s all still new and exciting. But I’m sure we’ll have to come up with some more solutions in the future to keep their attention. After all, rehab doesn’t always take the first time out!