Planning a videoconferencing space is more than just setting up a couple of cameras in a regular meeting room. Effective videoconferencing requires attention to the space’s physical factors and layout. The following is the first of a two-part design tip highlighting the fundamentals for planning ideal conferencing spaces

Location, Location, Location
Room shape can be determined by the number of people who will be frequently using the space:
Rectangular-shaped rooms are best for meetings with four or more people – all participants should be within the camera's view
Square rooms are suitable for smaller meetings with less than three people
To minimize noise distractions, the videoconferencing room should be in a remote area, away from the cafeteria or other gathering place
Place a red light or a sign outside the room to alert others that a conference is in process
   
Make an Entrance
Provide two entrances to the room so that participants can enter the room and sit down without walking in front of the camera
The wall behind the participants should not have any doors or windows as this may cause distraction during sessions
   
Behind the Scene
The best choice for wall-paint color is a light blue or light gray. White creates too much of a contrast and may actually make it difficult to see participants’ faces, especially those with darker skin tones
Avoid large patterns on furniture, walls or clothing – these tend to distract remote conferencers
Keep artwork or plants out of the camera’s view
   
Optional Extras
Consider placing company logos behind the users as long as they do not reflect light or detract from the participants
Hang additional wall clocks in the room to display alternate time zones
   
Lights, Camera, Action!
Choose a room without windows or use light-blocking shades to provide light control
Use indirect fluorescent lighting to shine upward and reflect evenly off of the ceiling. Lights that shine downward tend to create shadows on the participants’ faces
   
Setting the Stage
Choose tables that provide access to power and data. Bretford manufactures a variety of tables ideal for conferencing. Check out www.bretford.com
Chairs should not rock or roll. Wheels squeak when they roll and the rocking motion provides a distracting activity for fidgety, camera-shy participants.
Carts or cabinetry for audio-visual equipment should provide power and cable management systems. A cart should also lock and have wheels for mobility. SMART Expression is a pre-wired, mobile multimedia cabinet that integrates multimedia and computer peripherals.

Part 2 of Setting Up Videoconferencing Facilities will cover camera setup, monitors, microphones and presentation screens.

Source: Breford's Guide to Successfully Planning a Videoconferencing Room


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