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Want a Better Meeting Experience? Raise the Expectations of Your Audio Conferencing Quality
By Alan MacLeod, VP of Product, Revolabs
The ability to communicate has always been critical in the workplace, but many organizations suffer through poor audio during conference calls. Since its inception, telephone network quality has conditioned users to accept compromised audio and lower their expectationsof the quality. Cell phones have lowered expectations even more.Over time users have grown accustomed to poor experiences with conferencing technology — particularly speakerphones — and learned to adapt. But a poor audio experience has extensive repercussions; it adds to stress and fatigue, wastes time, and leads to frustration and misunderstandings that can negatively impact both personal image and an organization’s brand. Often companies settle for poor, even terrible, audio because they’re not aware that better quality solutions are available.
Audio that sounds as clear as being in the same room has been available for many years, but the technology was expensive and predominately limited to highly controlled environments such as dedicated telepresence suites.
These suites were often used too infrequently to reap the ROI that made the systems worth it. And with little exposure to the superb audio quality of these systems, users continued to accept that terrible sound quality was just part of the conferencing experience.
Today, however, much of the sametechnologyfound in those systems is available as standard features in unified communications solutions and in some conference phones at a fraction of the cost. Some conference phone manufacturers have designed products that use the full range of human hearing. Expanding the frequency range helps meeting participants to differentiate sounds, making it easier to discern similar words and understand unfamiliar accents. The result is better comprehension, which increases productivity and allows people to feel more relaxed and less stressed.
But to truly enable realistic, natural audio, the conference phone must continue to advance. When we converse face-to-face, we often speak at the same time. We filter out background noises such as air conditioning and rustling paper, and we automatically compensate for people who speak quietly or loudly. Conference phones that emulate this human behavior create an environment free of interruptions and distractions.
This is especially important as video conferencing proliferates.The importance of audio can easily be underestimated amid the many considerations for network performance and infrastructure, hardware and software selection, deployment and support planning, and so on. Unfortunately, organizations often find out too late that poor audio quality canturn great video into a bad experience. And a bad experience can lead employees to seek out free solutions that are sufficient for personal use, but can expose organizations to security risks.
As technology continues to advance and enable constant communication,we continue to raise our expectations for the way we should be able to communicate. It’s time organizations also demand betterquality of that communication and seek out conferencing solutions that enable the natural flow of conversation that is as clear over distance as meeting face-to-face.