Easy tips to have productive conference calls with remote teams

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In today’s tech-driven world, employee teams telecommute and work from different parts of the world. Many global companies now allow employees to telecommute or work from a remote location or home. The benefits of a remote workforce stem from allowing employees to spend more time in their comfort zones, thereby enhancing productivity.

Although communication can be accomplished in numerous ways, from email to instant messaging and web conferencing, face-to-face interactions are still pivotal. Today, it is commonplace for teams to meet their remote counterparts via video conferencing platforms.

A conference call executed with everyone’s best interests in mind is the right way to accomplish those objectives with your remote team. Conferencing technologies allow meeting in the virtual space, saving time and money and offering flexibility in location and timing. This post discusses easy tips to make conference calls with remote teams productive and effective.

Keep it short and focused

Let’s not bore everyone to tears with corporate updates and policy changes and what-not. Send that information in an email (with bullet points for easy reading) and refer to the document to make your points. Use your conference calls to help your team members overcome obstacles, hash out ideas and help each other out.

Use the right video conferencing platform

You are responsible for making sure your conference call goes smoothly. Part of that is using the right technology. These days, cloud-based video conferencing offer businesses a license-based “always-available” communication service without the hassle of having on-premise servers and other infrastructure.

Have a clear plan and agenda

Plan an agenda and email it to everyone. It doesn’t have to be formal, but everyone should be aware of your discussion topics and prepared to contribute to the conversation. The agenda can be sent along with the meeting invite. Modern audio and video conferencing platforms feature calendar integrations built-in.

Make the call engage and interactive

Ask your teleworkers question, use their names and make them feel involved. The more they feel like they belong to the discussion, the more they’ll feel like offering ideas. You could also promote the usage of annotation tools available in today’s unified communication and collaboration platforms.

 

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Using technology to enhance Town Hall Meetings

 

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A Town Hall Business Meeting is an organization-wide business meeting in which an executive report is made and then employees or guests have an opportunity to ask questions and engage with business executives. Town Hall Business Meetings can be held in large conference rooms, corporate cafeterias, hotel ballrooms and across many time zones and continents.
 
Using video communications systems and a meeting moderator, business executives can hold Town Hall Business Meetings in multiple time zones at once. All employees get one message in a lively forum that comes close to the experience of having executives travel to each location. When employees have the opportunity to ask questions and to see and hear a live presentation, a Town Hall Business meeting comes alive and drives employee engagement.
 
Here, we share few tips to enhance Town Hall Business Meetings using technology. Read more to learn how to get employees engaged and motivated to make the most of their roles in the organization.
 

Celebrate the winners

Everyone likes getting awards — employee recognition is a cost-effective motivation booster that lets those awarded feel good about their work and help them align with the company’s mission and values.
 

Dress down the event

Employees like to hear from other people apart from the usual horde of senior managers. Including non-leadership presenters during company-wide town hall gatherings makes the meeting a lot less intimidating and seem a lot less biased. Not only does this allow different perspectives to be represented, it also creates a truer sense of transparency and openness in the organization.
 

Keep it simple

There’s nothing worse than going to a meeting and not being able to understand a word anyone is saying. Whether it be too many abbreviated tech terminologies or eye-straining slides, try to avoid overly complex topics for your all-hands meetings and keep the message simple, understandable and to the point.
 

Live stream the meeting

 
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When you get into the hundreds or thousands of attendees, live streaming lets you extend the message beyond the big room since attendees can plug in from anywhere and get the same interactive and engaging experience as if they were there in person. Broadcasting a video stream is as simple as sending out a link that viewers can connect to the right from their web browsers.
 

Two-way conversation is key

Ensure meetings are always two-way conversations between presenters and attendees. You can send out the meeting agenda ahead of time so people come to the meeting prepared with questions. You can also conduct a Q&A during the presentation or just have question portal during the meeting. Many employees would like to speak up and this just might be the right occasion for them.
 

Record and share the event

Creating a video presence for your organization is easy. With the right technology, you can instantly generate a huge bank of video content. The video recordings can be used to show employees who are unable to attend town halls can tune in on their own time. Being able to access important company meetings online any time makes your company truly timeless. The videos can also be used to engage employees via newsletters, blogs, and photo/video galleries for internal viewing.

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Top five collaboration apps for control, presentation, and video conferencing

Whether you’re collaborating with remote colleagues or coordinating with clients, you need easy communication tools to get the job done. During core productivity hours, one simply doesn’t have time to deal with dropped calls, stream lags, choppy audio and video, annoying downloads and plugins, poor lighting, or other frustrating and time-wasting technical issues.

In today’s software-driven age, there isn’t a dearth of software applications that can help communicate effortlessly. However, how do you know which ones are right for your application? Also, what are the cost implications of these applications?

At Actis Technologies India, we have nearly four decades of experience is deploying communication, collaboration and automation solutions for the biggest local and global enterprises and conglomerates. Here, we share a list of top five collaboration apps for automation control, presentation, and video conferencing applications.

 

1. Barco Clickshare

 

Barco’s Clickshare helps meetings become more productive and efficient. You can easily share content from your laptop through a USB device by a simple click of a button. This Clickshare app allows you to take over an entire screen and display content that will be automatically formatted and can be shared among users.

 

2. Crestron Pyng

 

Pyng by Crestron electronics can easily and quickly set up whole-home audio systems, thermostats, lighting, shades, door locks, and security systems. It can effortlessly pairs wireless accessories to the Crestron PYNG-HUB that acts as a cloud-based control centre the Pyng network so nothing is ever lost.

 

3. Epson iProjection

 

With Epson’s iProjection app, you can easily project images and files wirelessly from your mobile device on to a projector. You can display web pages, add annotations with use of the built-in annotation button, connect up to 50 devices, display real-time images from a mobile camera, share images, and even use the app as a projector remote control.

 

4. GoToMeeting

 

GoToMeeting has established itself as the “go-to” solution for video conferencing and virtual meetings, and with good reason: HD-quality video, screen sharing, personalized meeting URLs, and the ability to connect to meetings via desktop or mobile, thus making it a popular choice for enterprises. Teams of all all sizes can quickly collaborate by using the whiteboard feature to annotate and highlight the presenter’s screen. International toll-free numbers and options to translate control settings make GoToMeeting a convenient option for global teams, plus it’s easy to change presenters for meetings with multiple hosts.

 

5. Polycom RealPresence Mobile

 

Polycom’s RealPresence mobile app gives you the flexibility to collaborate via any personal device, from any location. It provides premium quality audio, video, and content sharing. Users can access enterprise directories at a swipe of a finger through its cloud-based deployment. This app is optimized for use with mobiles and requires Polycom RealPresence infrastructure.

We hope you liked this quick and informative blog post from Actis Technologies India. If your business is looking for well-integrated communication solutions in India, feel free to get in touch with us.

 

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A closer look at the importance of audio on Video Conferencing sessions

Group Of Businesspeople Meeting Around Boardroom Table

Video conferencing is one of the most efficient ways for businesses to communicate. It saves travel costs, promotes more face-to-face interactions, and boosts productivity. Video plays a huge role in providing the many benefits of video conferencing, however, the importance of clear audio is often overlooked. Audio issues can completely downplay the benefits of video conferencing by hindering communication efforts. So what causes these audio issues in video conferencing sessions? Here we take a closer look at the importance of audio on video conferencing sessions and how to solve them.

What causes of audio issues during video conferencing?

Video conferencing is meant to make everyone involved in the conference feel as if they are in the same room. This feeling of unity is a staple of video conferencing. However, when a video conference involves numerous locations with multiple people, crosstalk is a major issue. When more than one participant of a video conference speaks at the same time, the audio becomes jumbled.

In our mobile-first world, background noise can be another leading cause of audio issues. For many enterprises, it might seem like a no-brainer to ensure video conferences are set in a quiet, distraction-free environment. However, as more participants join in from devices outside the office, it’s not possible to regulate the background noise.

Some factors affecting clear audio during video conferences are not man-made. For example, companies’ conference rooms are often a symbol of status, therefore they are big, ornate rooms with large conference tables. Spacious conference rooms are great only if a company has large enough speakers to disperse the sound evenly throughout the entire room. If soft speakers are used in a large conference room, audio clarity suffers immensely. There is nothing wrong with spacious conference rooms. However, if a company does not plan its technology to fit the size of the conference room, it becomes an issue. In conference rooms that contain high ceilings or a large conference table, echo and audio reflection confuses real-time audio during video conferences. The goal of video conferencing is to enhance communication and collaboration, but the enhancement is made difficult if an echo is causing participants to hear the same thing repeatedly.

How to resolve audio issues in video conferencing sessions?

Audio issues can hamper the various benefits of video conferencing, but there are ways to combat these issues. Crosstalk is an issue that will continue to arise, despite the technology being used. However, having a clear, structured, and outlined video conference can eliminate some crosstalk. Another non-technological solution for issues such as background noise is to simply educate and inform participants and employees.

Encouraging employees to use the mute function on their microphone when they are listening can make a huge difference. There are many technologies that alleviate audio issues as well. Acoustic treatments can help combat audio issues like echo and reflection in large conference spaces. Isolation platforms, diffusers, sound barriers, and absorbers are all viable options to ensure echo and audio reflection will no longer be an issue.

Microphones can also cut down on unnecessary background noise and provide clarity of audio during video conferencing. Provide clients and employees with microphones and you will notice it has a major impact on the audio quality during video conferencing. Specific types of microphones are designed to pick up only intended audio while rejecting unwanted ambient noises such as fans, computers, etc. Microphones are a way companies can ensure clear communication and collaboration during video conferencing.

Why is clear audio paramount on video calls?

Video conferencing is rapidly becoming the standard of communication in enterprise settings. Video conferencing provides practical benefits for companies looking to streamline and enhance communication and collaboration. The video functionality of this style of conferencing is a staple to its success, but the audio aspect is often overlooked. Audio issues can easily negate the benefits of video conferencing. However, by educating employees and participants on the best video conferencing practices, using the best system for specific spaces, and using microphones, companies can ensure audio quality during video conferences are crystal clear.

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What is AVoIP? Everything you need to know about it!

All about AVoIP

With IP networks now such a vital part of business infrastructure, the centralized control and monitoring of AV systems over IP networks has been a noticeable development. AV over IP (AVoIP) offers huge possibilities in terms of AV system flexibility, rapid troubleshooting, and remote control/monitoring.

There are two main aspects when looking at AVoIP. Firstly, its features and capabilities; secondly the management prowess of putting personal area network (PAN) activity over the network. From a network perspective, AVoIP provides end users and the administrators in charge of their AV applications the ability to manage all of their resources from a single point.

Currently, the use of voice, security and audio systems over IP networks is widespread. However, the management and control of AV systems, especially video, has been the often ignored. Once AV is brought into the mix, it is beneficial to have the universal management of all those resources over a single network.

AudioVisual over IP (AVoIP) allows IP enabled audio-visual equipment to be connected over an IT infrastructure allowing central control and remote monitoring. This delivers real time data of you IP controlled systems and can help diagnose and correct outages before the end user becomes aware of any issues. This includes presentation systems, video conferencing, distributed TV and control systems. Amongst the benefits of this is better functionality with a lower cost of operation and maintenance.

From an AV features perspective, we are now getting further away from a defined architecture of matrix switches. In a ‘traditional’ AV system, each piece of AV hardware does a specific job and it’s a case of linking them together in discrete systems. However, with AVoIP comes a new generation of a much more flexible hardware, which can be quickly updated to add the features and other required elements of a project into particular devices.

 

AVoIP also offers the advantage of reduced costs associated with AV-specific tasks like switching, conduit, cabling infrastructure, pathway and storage, utilizing the existing data infrastructure to support AV distribution. At the same time, system requirements are simplified and adding extra input/output or extending the reach of a system can be done quickly, simply and cost-effectively. AVoIP adds agility to the whole AV industry. As features emerge and technologies change, we can quickly apply those to a particular device.

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Pro AV Tips: Avoiding acoustic feedback in meeting rooms

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Quite often, meetings come to a screeching halt thanks to a gnarly sound called feedback. Feedback is an annoying and potentially damaging squealing or humming sound that is extremely distracting during meetings. Apart from it being a distraction, it may force the participants to stop the meeting and address the issue thereby affecting productivity.

While feedback loops are a common occurrence and unavoidable when working with audio technology, there are ways and means to limit or control it. In this blog, we explain why feedback occurs, its impact on meetings and tips to avoid and eliminate it.

What is feedback?
Feedback occurs when an audio signal emanating from the loudspeakers is introduced in the in the microphone’s signal chain both in phase and at a suitable level. This signal is picked up and gets looped through the system. The signal is then amplified again and played back through the loudspeakers. One or more frequencies may begin to ring or howl and produce a terrible and unpleasant noise.

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Every audio system has a maximum amount of gain or volume that can be applied before feedback is introduced which is known as gain before feedback. Some of the key reasons for feedback in meeting rooms are high gain levels, improper placement of speakers and microphones, number of open mics (NOM), and room acoustics among others.

Tips to reduce feedback in meeting rooms

  • Move the microphone closer to the sound source
    Poor microphone placement increases the amount of gain required in order to capture sound. The higher the gain, the closer you are to introducing feedback loops. This can be avoided by placing the microphones closer to the sound source or participant.
  • Reduce the number of open microphones
    Every time the number of open microphones is doubled, the amount of available potential gain is reduced by nearly three dB. Additionally, unwanted noise is introduced into the system which presents additional paths for potential feedback loops to occur. If possible, you can encourage users to mute their microphones when they are not speaking.
  • Move the loudspeakers closer to the listener
    When the loudspeaker is away from the listener, higher volume is required to achieve optimum coverage area. You can opt for distributed ceiling loudspeakers to ensure even coverage. Additionally, you can use delayed surface mount loudspeakers to provide a suitable level to participants seated further away.
  • Use directional microphones
    Omnidirectional microphones are designed to capture sound from all directions, on the other hand, microphones with cardioid or super cardioid capsules offer higher directionality in terms signal pickup. Strategically placed directional ceiling or surface-mounted microphones help minimise any unwanted noise from entering your system and maximises the amount of gain available.
  • Consider signal processing
    Many modern dedicated signal processors offer built-in feedback reduction and Acoustic Echo Cancellation. This process introduces feedback into the system and then applies notches in the equalization to reduce those troublesome frequencies. Although this can also be done manually with a parametric EQ, in meeting room it is based to opt for a DSP with feedback reduction. Not only do they minimize feedback, they also improve the intelligibility of sound.
  • Consider acoustic treatment
    Each room has certain frequencies that are more resonant than others. Hard and reflective surfaces such as glass window panes or hardwood tables contribute to that reverberant field. You can use absorption material to reduce the amount of reverb and reverberant field. This ensures that more direct sound is reaching the audience, thereby requiring less gain to ensure good intelligibility. Acoustic treatment also helps in controlling unwanted ambient sounds.

For the best audio-visual system design and integration in India, contact Actis at 022-30808080 or at contact@actis.co.in.

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Here’s how video conferencing contributes towards a company’s growth

 

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Technology plays a major role in the contribution of any company’s growth. There are so many offerings by the technology, which has contributed to the growth of numerous companies. One of such great technological inventions which can work as a great contributor towards business growth is a video conferencing solution.

A videoconference is a live, visual connection between two or more people residing in separate locations for the purpose of communication. At its simplest, video conferencing provides transmission of static images and text between two locations. At its most sophisticated, it provides transmission of full-motion video images and high-quality audio between multiple locations. Below are key contributions of video conferencing solutions for growth in today’s business.

Enables quick real-time communication

Business is dynamic and strategic. As a good business player, you have to make sure to arm your team with the tools, which can allow them to take quick decisions. One aspect to keep in mind is that in any business, before taking any decision, it is important to discuss the same with the core committee members. The video conferencing solution is the tool, which can empower the business owners and their team with a real-time communication platform. Using a conferencing solution, the conferences can be conducted quickly and decisions can be taken promptly.

Versatile communication tools

It is a known fact that each business has a different communication need. For example, there can be a need for a quick audio conference within the board members for easy discussions. At the same time, a video conference can be required for a team training for the remote members or to give demos of the product. The conference solution comes with the capability of both audio and video conferencing.

Easy and intuitive remote communication

The conferencing solution comes in a form of a web-based software. This type of conferencing solution can be accessed using a web client. This web client can be accessed from any web browser. This reduces the headache of installing any software on the system and carry that system everywhere to conduct a conference. To use a web-based video conferencing solution what you need is a web browser and good internet connection to support the bandwidth required for conducting the web conferences. So now, even when you or your staff members are travelling and are away from your systems, you and your staff members can still participate in conferences using any device.

Screen sharing

The laptops, desktops and smart devices are part of many businesses. The screen sharing functionality of the conferencing solution allows the teams to collaborate and work together remotely. This can be a boon for tech, manufacturing and IT companies.

Any company or business has a few core requirements to support their growth which includes the following:

  • Uninterrupted communication mechanism
  • Real-time communication tools
  • Strong Collaboration tools
  • Quick decision making
  • Beating the competition
  • High-tech tools

A video conferencing solution is a great platform which satisfies many important needs of a business including communication and collaboration. This conferencing solution will empower the businesses with the real time and a powerful communication mechanism which supports remote communication and collaboration. This improves the productivity of the team remarkably. All these reduces delays, accelerate business processes and contribute to the growth of the company.

Actis’ blog share and discussed key contributions of video conferencing solutions for growth in today’s business. Read this interesting blog to learn more.

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Here’s how VoIP and IP telephony can benefit Small and Midsize Businesses (SMBs)

VoIP and IP Telephony

Numerous small businesses are abandoning legacy phones for Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and IP telephony at incredible rates. Switching over to VOIP-based offers many benefits over legacy phone systems. The demand for VOIP service providers in India such as Actis technologies has risen sharply in the last decade alone.

Quite often, smaller enterprises are reluctant to switch from legacy phone systems, mostly due to lack of information about its significant offering in business productivity. Our blog discusses how VoIP and IP telephony can benefit Small and Midsize Businesses.

Cost Effective

One of the biggest benefits VoIP and IP telephony offers is cost savings potential. Users need not worry about long-distance fees, expensive equipment or maintenance since, as all of the voice and data traffic is integrated into a single unified network. As internet connectivity is at the core of modern business practices, businesses can reap greater value from their Internet connection.

Added Flexibility

With VoIP and IP telephony, you can easily integrate email, e-fax and remote conferencing over the Internet via the phone. This allows multitasking, thereby enhancing productivity. Modern VoIP and IP telephony platforms allow you to sync all of your devices including smartphone and tablets, allowing to easy connectivity and communicate even out of office.

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Abundant and Useful Features

In addition to making and receiving calls over the Internet, many VoIP providers also offer other features such as emailing voicemails, recording calls, attaching documents, conducting virtual meetings and sharing data via video conferences. All of this frees up more time for employees to focus on other aspects of their job and allows for more multitasking.

Easy Installation and Troubleshooting

And most VoIP and IP telephony utilise software instead of hardware. So, adding new components and scaling the communication infrastructure is very easy. Users can easily control interface through the web to change features, settings, options and services. Furthermore, many VOIP service providers in India such as Actis technologies carefully handholds both large enterprises and SMBs during the entire installation process.

Better Conferencing

VoIP and IP telephony not only provides high definition sound quality and data connections, but also different features such as participants availability, speaking priority, and muting. These features keep conference calls and meeting focused, organised and result-driven.

Small and Midsize Businesses usually find it difficult to compete with larger enterprises in many aspects including communication. Luckily for them, VoIP and IP telephony can be a viable option to overcome communication woes.

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Future of AV: Holographic 3D video conferencing with Kinect

Future of AV

Video conferencing is changing the way we interact with people across the globe. While video conferencing is not a new phenomenon, experimentation with augmented reality in this space is new. Industry experts predict that VC will evolve with visual and aural augmentation technologies.

Recently, a team of researchers at Kingston, Ontario’s Queen’s University have developed a video conferencing tool that works on Kinect cameras letting you see 3D holograms of the person you’re talking to. The device has been named as Telepod. This technology drastically changes the way video conferencing is conducted. Visually, it appears as a piece of technology from futuristic sci-fi movies. The Telepod spices up VC with life-size 3D holograms.

The system consists of a 1.8m tall cylinder with 6 Microsoft Kinect cameras placed on the top and a 3D projector fitted inside. As you may already know, Kinect is a popular line of motion sensing interactive devices by Microsoft for their Xbox gaming consoles and Windows-based PCs. It enables users to control and interact with their devices using gestures and spoken commands. This reduced dependency on external controllers or any sort.

While conferencing, each person stands in front of their own Telepod, which can capture and track their movements in three dimensions resulting in a life-size 3D holographic image projected inside of the cylinder. You can walk around and view from the back and the sides. There’s even a medical version named Bodipod that leverages the same hardware letting you interact with a 3D version of the human body. You can view it from multiple angles and use gesture commands to peel away layers & see different parts of the human anatomy.

As one of India’s leading AV integration companies, this technology excites us. We can’t stop thinking about how beneficial the Telepod would be in the field of visual communications. Here’s to holographic 3D video conferencing of the future! The following video gives you a closer look and small demonstration of the Telepod. Do have a look and share this post with your peers and colleagues.

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4 easy tips to get smart classroom AV solutions

Tips to get smart classroom AV solutions

We’ve come a long way since the most important tool for students was the pencil. Currently, even the younger students take their lessons on tablets or computers. In the last few years, schools have been hard at work in setting up computer labs and installing iPads, projectors and other classroom AV solutions along with developing or customizing learning apps for mobile.

Smart classroom AV solutions are no longer a new phenomenon. Today, schools are integrating classroom AV solutions for a wholesome and interactive learning experience. That being said, IT and administrative staff may be scouting for the next wave of interactive technologies that can be used for improving education infrastructure. Following are few solutions that educational institutions can have on their list of considerations.

1. Interactive Whiteboards

This solution replaces the good old projectors and chalkboards. They are much more visually appealing and allow students to use added hands-on features. They can be used during presentation, discussions and solving problems as a group. Many interactive whiteboards also auto save all annotations and changes to the cloud ensuring any time access to content.

2. Video Conferencing

Educational institutions can use video conferencing to feature remote guest speakers, attend virtual field trips, and offer lessons to remote students. Having AV solutions can also help students connect with other students from other geographic locations. Imagine the learning environment this could create!

3. Content Presentation Systems

They are designed for a variety of applications from Video Conferencing, content creation, collaboration and sharing in educational institutions. These solutions allow students and teachers to share and save content. Opt for features like device mirroring and any-to-any connectivity.

4. Virtual Reality

Virtual and Augmented reality is gaining stellar momentum. Virtual reality learning is an ideal way of increasing engagement with students in a manner they are comfortable with. These technologies are for more than just realistic gaming. They take the virtual field trip to the next level. They can also facilitate other learning activities like 3D modeling and printing. VR technology adds a new dimension to education.

Schools and education institutions are moving away from the era of outdated textbooks. They now have information and powerful tools at their disposal. Schools ought to know what are the latest smart classroom solutions are available. At all times, it is crucial that schools work with a trusted audio video integrator to explore the best options available in the AV industry. Being informed helps make decisions that benefits both the schools and the students in the long run.

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