Effective business communication in 2023: How to achieve meeting equity

Meeting equity is ensuring every employee has an equal share of presence and voice in meetings, no matter the location. While the purpose is about representation, only one-third of employees are familiar with the term, finds Jabra’s Hybrid Ways of Working 2022 Report.

A fully in-person meeting or a fully virtual meeting provides an equitable playing field. But if there is a mixture of in-person and virtual meetings, the balance is tipped and the minority group – typically the virtual joiners, will find themselves left out. Hybrid work is a widely adopted working model in 2023, so to even out the field, business and IT decision markets need to consider two key elements to meeting equity – visual equity and audio equity.

Visual perception is greater than reality

Visual equity enables employees to see and been seen. The goal is to ensure that everyone is allotted an equal number of pixels on a screen, regardless of where they’re joining from.

This means solving the major challenge of presenting both in -person and remote participants equally on a screen. As such, the challenge can be solved with artificial intelligence (AI). To capture multiple individualised video feeds of several people in one room, the boardroom camera must be able to identify and frame those people independently of one another.

Without AI, the boardroom camera lacks the ability to distinguish between participants in real time and to follow them around should they decide to move over to the whiteboard. Also, cameras with built-in AI can address issues of poor lighting and reduce the cognitive load of virtual video meetings and limit the employee’s susceptibility to video meeting fatigue.

Encouragingly, with Jabra’s report finding 70% of employees say standardised professional video camera would help everyone participate equally in hybrid meetings, the hurdle isn’t about awareness – it’s about action. Video tech continues to innovate and introduce new functions to support greater visual equity. For example, Microsoft introduced Gallery View, which takes a novel approach to presenting all virtual and in-room participates equitably.

So that said, when trying to boost visual equity, IT decision makers in the firm will need to consider the functionality of the video platform and how well audio can be paired with it.

Can you hear what I hear?

Audio equity enables employees to hear and be heard. In fact, 75% say audio equity, where all employees use standardised and professional audio devices to access their meetings, would improve hybrid meetings. It takes two audio endpoints to have an effective meeting.

While professional headsets boost incoming and outgoing audio of participants joining virtual meetings remotely, the experience is greatly impaired if in-room meeting participants are poorly equipped. In the meeting room, employees rely on the capabilities of speakerphone audio solutions to provide a high-quality incoming and outgoing audio experience.

Additionally, we also found that professional device users were 11% less likely to report feeling left out of the conversation in virtual meetings than built-in audio users. Similarly, they were 14% less likely to report having trouble hearing what’s being said than built-in users.

Meeting equity is a major challenge for many firms. But there are tools available to help teams transition into a more productive future. To identify the right tech, IT decision makers must ask themselves, “What will help employees see and be seen, hear and be heard?”

Mike Downey is the Marketing Director ANZ at Jabra.