Everyday challenges of virtual meetings
For all their benefits, virtual meetings are not without their challenges, some of which are beyond the control of meeting attendees.
The two main virtual meeting challenges are:
Lack of non-verbal cues
Zero Non-Verbal Signals whilst Zooming
Humans have no built-in tools to guide or build virtual relationships.
Nor can they make connections or personality deductions without the plethora of non-verbal communication cues that are hidden when on virtual meeting camera. This is a problem that no current e-meeting software can presently solve. Nothing beats a focused real-life meeting around a boardroom table!
Since it is going to take a while to rewire thousands of years of relationship evolutions, let us consider the next most significant issue faced by virtual meetings – that of background noise.
Background Meeting Noise
Working from home brings with it dogs, children, neighbours and a host of other environmental sounds that are often beyond the control of meeting participants. And while some external noises can be dampened or controlled, like it or not, background noise forms part of almost every online meeting today.
To counter the noise nuisance, companies can approach this from two perspectives.
Background Noise Reduction Software
Firstly, background sound can be reduced using noise reducing software. This kind of software works in real-time and tries to intercept background noises before they are sent to the meeting. Which is a technical tour-de-force of no small order!
The AI system must determine the difference between an attendee’s voice and unwanted sounds as the voice is being transmitted. If this process takes too long, a time-lag is introduced; if the software gets it wrong, the speaker’s voice is removed.
An example of this is the Krisp app (https://krisp.ai/) that is available for Windows or Mac. Krisp has some competitors, which you can find by Googling the phrase ‘krisp competitors’. Also, some virtual meeting software comes standard with a ‘remove background noise’ feature but the effectiveness of this function is often quite variable.
There is a free version of Krisp, which currently provides 240 minutes of noise reduction per week. This should be enough to get most people through the noisiest times of the day. However, the full version is only $5 per month for unlimited use and could be a worthwhile investment for people who spent most of their days in virtual meetings. It should not be that difficult to convince the IT department to purchase a company license. Not only is this a great solution to clean up conversations from the home office, but it also works well for those occasional coffee shop or airport lounge calls that cannot be avoided
Practical Background Noise Reduction Ideas
Secondly, beyond the software route, there are some other practical interventions that mitigate the impact of background noise. An obvious starting point is for attendees to wear headsets and stay muted until they need to speak. Moving to a quieter part of the home or asking cohabitants to keep it down, also helps. Meeting participants should also check if any of their devices are generating noise such as a laptop fan or the like.
While our modern virtual meeting environments are not easy to navigate, there are some technology solutions available that can help to reduce background noise and improve the process of managing meetings.
Download the free whitepaper here.