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The advantages of a face-to-face meeting compared to an audio-only meeting are well documented. Seeing a remote meeting attendee speak greatly increases the speaker's presence, impact and effectiveness. We communicate through our expressions as much as through our words. Visuals help reduce miscommunications and misunderstandings that occur in audio-only meeting experiences.
It's not enough to hang a monitor on any wall in the meeting room and connect a video service. To get the most out of your video session, you want an immersive meeting experience. If set up properly, a video conference can mimic an in-person meeting, making it feel like you and your remote participant are in the same room.
While you may not be able to create a perfect in-person illusion in your meeting room, you can certainly apply some of these tricks to foster a more immersive meeting experience:
- Proper sizing. The remote person's face on the screen should be the same size as the faces of the people in the room. A giant head on the wall or a tiny head on a laptop at the end of the table sends a big red flag to your brain that this person isn't actually in the room with you.
- Eye-level placement. While it may be tempting to make your monitor easy to see by hanging it high up on the wall, it sets remote participants apart from those in the room. Instead, monitors should be placed at eye level.
- Table setup. While not always achievable, an ideal setup would have three monitors on the wall at eye level, a table up against that wall and three seats facing the monitors on the other side of the table. This way, the in-room and remote participants feel as if they are sitting across the table from each other.
- High-quality video. Initially, high-quality video was intended for immersive video rooms. Now, high-quality video is standard among most video conferencing offerings.
- Proper audio. If you are looking at someone in front of you and his or her voice is coming from a speaker behind you, it sends a clear signal to your brain that technology is at play -- ruining the immersive effect. People are very aware of spatial audio, so meeting room audio should be set up so the speaker's voice emanates from the same location as the video feed.
- Hide the technology. Cameras, microphones and cables are all reminders of a remote meeting and take away from the immersive meeting experience. While these elements can't always be completely hidden, it's best to make technology in a room feel as unobtrusive as possible.
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