Advanced Technologies improve the Quality of Virtual Meetings

Today’s workforce is spread out across the world and teams are increasingly relying on video, web, and audio conferencing to collaborate and complete projects. Online conversations can be transcribed using professional transcription services. The coronavirus outbreak has increased the significance of virtual meetings. In fact, coronavirus has led the World Bank and the IMF to move to virtual spring meetings this year.

However, a recent survey by Shure and market research firm Illuminas reported that while remote workers are becoming common in all types of industries, many companies do not have the technology necessary to succeed with virtual meetings (www.mytechdecisions.com). Not having the right equipment can negatively impact workplace efficiency, cost savings and employee morale.

Let’s take a look how advanced technologies improve the quality of virtual meetings:

Quality video software: High definition video and audio and other high quality and state of the art equipment can make the difference. There are many video conferencing software options to choose from such as Zoom, Google Hangouts, Skype, etc. These allow for easy, simple setup. A private meeting link can be quickly created and shared with an individual or team and connect remote team members through video. Adding a high-quality web camera can make your space a smart conference room and promote a collaborative environment with employees in multiple locations.

Superior microphones: With video or without, flawless audio is of utmost importance in virtual meetings. In the Shure virtual meeting survey, 81 percent of the respondents cited flawless audio as the most important factor in improving virtual meetings. They believe that audio improvements could improve productivity (65 percent), save time spent in meetings (61 percent) and result in higher employee engagement (56 percent).

If audio is distant, scratchy, or intermittent, it will affect collaboration. The audio solution must ensure that each word is crystal clear and reaches the audience. Clumsy, confusing hardware can make conferences difficult and annoying.

Technologically advanced microphones can provide excellent support for virtual meetings. A Tech Zelo.com article lists the various available options: Speaker phones, (Jabra Speak 410 USB), Gooseneck microphones (MXL AC-400), Ceiling microphones (BeyerDynamic Classic BM), Boundary microphones which are installed on a flat surface in a room such as a table (Audio-Technica PRO 44). The bottom line: regardless of the type of conference microphone you use, it should be the best equipment that ensures crisp, clean sound.

Chat functions: One common problem at virtual meetings is when people answer a question at the same time. While overlapping conversation is normal, it cause confusion as there’s no telling who said what. Confusion reigns and participants lose track of things. In fact, people talking over each other can also prove a challenge for an online transcription company assigned with the task of converting the proceedings into accurate text.

The solution to this is to use chat functions to share their ideas simultaneously. The whole team can put down their views in writing all at once on a chat function or in a shared document, so that the output is visible to everyone (www.forbes.com).

A superior technology, Dolby Voice offers exceptional audio clarity, allowing participants to easily hear and understand everyone in a meeting. It features background noise suppression that cuts out sounds that are not part of the conversation, allowing meeting attendees to focus on the subject at hand. Dolby Voice also offers support for overlapping talkers, eliminating awkward exchanges and allowing everyone to participate equally in the conversation.

In December 2019, researchers at Microsoft published a paper titled ‘Advances in Online Audio-Visual Meeting Transcription which described a system that generates speaker-annotated transcripts of meetings using a microphone array and a 360-degree camera. The team explained that the key feature of this system is its ability to handle overlapped speech using a “continuous speech separation approach”. All components are combined in a meeting transcription framework called SRD, which stands for “separate, recognize, and diarize”. In the SRD framework, CSS (continuous speech separation), speech recognition, and speaker diarization takes place concurrently.

While good technology is important for meetings, it is certainly not everything.  Planning and preparation are necessary to make meetings both efficient and productive. Video and audio transcription services are available to get the proceedings documented, but high-quality digital recording is crucial for transcription accuracy