These days, more and more companies are turning to smart meeting rooms in order to create the perfect space for increased communication and productivity. What do you need to run a smart meeting room? You’ll need to invest in some technology—but don’t worry, we’ll make this as easy and painless as possible.

Connected Everything

We’re increasingly living in a connected world, with smart devices of all kinds. Most of your business colleagues carry smartphones, tablets, computers and more on a daily basis. Collaboration has never been easier, but not everyone uses the same platform.

The BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) movement, where each employee brings their own device and chooses their own platform, has completely upset the business environment. Everyone can use their favorite portals, apps, calendars and more for work.

When it comes to meetings, however, it’s not easy for everyone to connect and share ideas if they’re working on different platforms.

Tools for a Smart, Connected Meeting Room

If you’re preparing to outfit your meeting room with smart devices, you’re probably wondering what tech is the best to truly make the room smart. We’ve got your covered.

Displays

Are tools that continue to be important meeting tools—these are the visual portion of the conference room. For virtual attendees, the display allows them to view presentations, share their screens (laptops, smartphones and tablets), and more.

Look for either single or dual monitors, wireless projectors, 4K TVs, and interactive displays to help bring life to presentations. Also look for wireless display/visual equipment, as these make it easy for meeting participants to connect from their various devices and platforms. You’ll avoid the hassle of wires trailing all over the room, while making it simple and fast for everyone in the meeting to connect and share their screens, etc.

Video Conferencing solutions

It’s becoming more normal to have one or more people attending a meeting from another location. You’ll need video conferencing solutions to make meetings more accessible for virtual attendees.

There’s a wide variety of video conferencing tools available including Skype for Business, Zoom, Webex, and GoToMeeting. In addition to Skype and Skype for Business, Microsoft also offers MS Teams as another video conferencing solution. These solutions offer free versions, but you’ll want the paid versions for the benefit of additional and advanced features.  

 

Microphone & speakers

You’ll want to invest in some microphones and speakers so everyone will hear what’s going on in the meeting. Again, there are many options available—everything from installed devices to those that sit on a table. The type of system you decide on will depend on how the room will be used.

When searching for the right system, keep in mind your room’s size and layout. You’ll also need to make sure the system will reduce feedback and background issues, without the loss of audio quality.

Productivity tools

During a meeting, people commonly share all types of files and information. What happens if two or more people need to access/share data, only to find their platforms don’t mesh? When outfitting your meeting room, look for productivity tools that bridge the gap between platforms and technology.

For instance, look for document sharing platforms that are accessible to all types of technology—from laptops (both PCs and Macs), to tablets and smartphones. Another example is calendars that work across platforms and devices. You’ll have a meeting that’s both unified and productive with tools that bridge the gaps between devices and platforms.

Electronic whiteboards

Meeting whiteboards have come a long way from the days when we used erasable markers, which dried out quickly and left permanent marks on the board. Today, efficient meetings are run using electronic whiteboards, where you can easily and quickly share images, thoughts, and more across a variety of devices and platforms.

You might consider Google’s Jamboard (a 55” whiteboard with stylus and digital eraser), which also includes an HD camera and built-in speakers. Not only that, it offers WiFi connectivity and works seamlessly with G Suite. Another option is the Samsung Flip, which also makes use of a smart stylus. Look for the system that has the features that work best for your business.

Video cameras

Most meetings will include people who attend virtually, so you’ll need to be set up with a video camera. One to consider is the Meeting Owl. This owl-shaped devices offers a 360-degree video camera that sits in the center of the meeting (on a table or desk), allowing the camera to pivot to each person who speaks.

No matter which video camera you choose, the camera will help people to connect during the meeting. Humans are more comfortable when they can see the person/people they’re speaking with. A video camera that enables this type of communication will help make your meetings more productive and help communication to flow more naturally.

Scheduling systems

You know the drill—scheduling meetings usually takes several back and forth emails and phone calls, as everyone compares their calendars. Make it easier for everyone by using a scheduling system. You’ll find various solutions that will make scheduling a meeting faster and easier for you and your meeting participants. Look for apps that connect to various platforms and their calendars, such as Outlook, iCal or even Google Calendar.

Scheduling apps can make access easy for everyone. You might consider Calendly (web app), Doodle (Android, iOS & Web), FreeBusy (Outlook & web) and more. While there are many schedule solutions available, look for the one that best works with you and your attendees’ systems and devices.

When looking for the best tools for your smart meeting room, be sure to consider the platforms, the type of devices you and meeting attendees (including virtual attendees) will use to connect to the meeting. Look for features such as plug and play, wireless, and solutions that span various platforms and your meetings will become lively, interesting and productive.