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Hybrid Meeting Challenges (Part 2)

We're going to stick with audio for a bit, because it is so much a part of managing a hybrid meeting. And, we are going to focus on meetings in spaces you do not control. So, again, a device that is specifically designed for a hybrid meeting (like the MeetingOwls we are a reseller for) can be used in certain spaces. They have audio management built in; they have cameras that move automatically to the person speaking; they have great built-in speakers; and, when you add an expansion mic, can pick up audio in a fairly large space. But, let's talk more about other equipment you may already own. If you have laptop with a built in camera (or an external webcam), you can manage a rudimentary hybrid meeting. But, it will be rudimentary, and you will have a lot of people (both in-person and remotely) saying "What did she say?" or "I didn't hear him." And, those remote will not be able to see all in-person participants well (unless you have a small meeting.)

With a laptop, the best way to accomplish a hybrid meeting would be with an external webcam. As in-person participants speak, you can turn the camera to them. Being able to hear those people may still be difficult for the remote participants, so keep that in mind. Webcams do typically have a microphone, but the quality isn't the best. Look for a webcam with a 3.5mm port (for audio-in), and then for a microphone that has good reviews for room audio - that will improve your audio. But, it's still not going to be as good as other solutions.

Getting more complicated - multiple microphones around a room, connected to an audio board (or a wireless set connected to one receiver); that receiver or audio board then connected (with a series of specialty cables) back to the webcam. This will dramatically improve the audio experience for those who are logging into the meeting remotely - it is more work to set up before your meeting, and more things to carry.

To allow your in-person attendees to clearly hear your remote attendees, connect a speaker to your headphone jack. Again, more work, more things to carry. And, you will have to be careful about where you place the speaker in relation to the microphones (feedback ruins a meeting!!) Always make sure you have the correct cables as well - we try to have spare cables with us at all times. Just last night (not an audio issue), we connected a camera to wireless transmitter, but received no video from the camera. First checking the camera settings and the connection, we then replaced the cable. Voila! Instant video. Don't ruin you meeting because you don't have a spare $10 cable!

Audio continues to be a complicated part of a hybrid meeting, and we'll probably talk about it more. And, we're always available on a consulting basis to learn about your meetings, and set you up so you can manage hybrid meetings on your own (in space you control, or at a remote location.) But for now, make people confident enough that they don't say "Can you hear me?"

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