A/V Pros Dish Tips ‘n’ Tricks for Meeting Room System Installations

These meeting room technology installation tips will help both newbies and seasoned pros alike form a mental checklist on the job.

Meeting spaces have changed a lot in the last few years and continue to be one of the most important A/V verticals. We’ve interviewed experienced installers who specialize in this market for some meeting room technology installation tips.

If you have a colleague who is new to the field — or if you already work in these markets but could use a mental checklist — we hope you’ll keep this guide at the ready.

The first challenge: Are your clients really a “single-company-house?”

One of the biggest challenges in this market are the clients who say they are “a Zoom house” or a “Google house”… but they also need to collaborate with XYZ other product, says Todd Hutchins, CTO, USIS AudioVisual Systems.

“Companies have different ways of collaborating. We always have to push for ‘are you really a zoom house, or are you going towards BYOD?’ We spend time creating programming docs and having long, deep conversations with the client.

“We try to keep most of the technology generic, such as over-USB. By bringing it back to the USB connection, we can stay compatible with just about any camera.”

Ben Lanclos, director of project management at Felix Media Solutions, says the need for some clients to adapt to videoconferencing software outpaced knowledge of the risks and best practices for each platform.

“Failure to identify the technology stakeholders is also problematic,” he says. “If the client’s IT team is unaware of what has been sold and what new functionality is being implemented, that team may drag their feet or outright resist change.”

Other customer service words of wisdom

As a young professional, Lanclos says he wanted to jump when the client called to demonstrate his concern for their problem, dispatching help immediately.

But this was (kind of) a mistake.

“I thought this was the best way to perform customer service. As I’ve grown in my career, I understand it is important to really establish a clear game plan going in, before sending a van full of installers.

“I could have saved a lot of time by confirming construction milestones first; specifically final paint, furniture, data, and electrical trim out.”

The client will be happier with you if you come prepared, even if it delays an immediate response. That doesn’t take away the value of timeliness, instead it’s that communication is a factor in that timeliness, he says.

Meeting space technology installation advice

On the technical side of this market, most installers agree that connecting the technology is fairly straightforward.

It’s about trying to keep the equipment and interfaces generic enough to work with a multi-format but also checking it and checking it against different new technologies, Hutchins says.

“I can’t stress enough how important it is to test whatever you install vigorously in the field with the client.”

Anthony Ferraro, project manager at Synergy Media Group, says electrical and data connections can be an issue.

“It helps the installation if power and data are in the right place. Rely on your engineer to make sure it is.”

Furniture can also be a problem. A few questions Ferraro thinks should be considered for furniture include:

  • Does the table have A/V connections?
  • Do we need to cut in a pop-up?
  • Is there power at the table for charging laptops and devices?
  • Does the table have wire management?
  • Does the table have large open legs to hide equipment?
  • Is the floor penetration in the right spot?
  • Microphone type and placement are very important. The far end participants need to hear the meeting participants clearly.

Also, using the correct camera is vital. Smaller huddle rooms need a wider angle camera to capture all of the participants, while a larger meeting room may be too much for a basic USB webcam to handle.

Ferraro also warns installers of setting up SIP conference devices.

“It can be difficult to find the ‘right’ person to talk to, either clients’ IT department or the VoIP vendor. Data collection systems can also be troubling. Not every company likes having AV equipment hanging out on their network.”

Other major milestones to hit in any meeting room technology installation project:

  • Confirm low-voltage pathways, power, data, and blocking have all been sorted out
  • Ensure the client’s IT team is aware of what devices you will be placing on their network
  • Make necessary requests for IPs and credentials as soon as you can

This article first appeared on SSI sister publication Commercial Integrator. Adam Forziati is senior web editor for CI and MyTechDecisions.

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