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Q: What’s the difference between a pizza delivery guy and a system admin?
A: Pizza delivery guys deliver pizza to houses, system admins deliver VGA adapters to conference rooms.
This classic IT joke, second only to the one about how CIO really stands for Career Is Over in the repertoire of IT humor, may at first glance seem like a bit of an exaggeration. Surely system admins spend more time on things that are part of their actual job description (like, say, system administration) than on delivering cables and adapters to end users who are having a hard time connecting to the conference room TV or projector?
A few years ago, this may have been the case. But now that everyone brings their own laptops to business meetings, connecting to the TV via cables and adapters isn’t so easy. Laptops come with a wide range of video outputs, smart TVs come with many different video inputs, but sometimes the inputs and outputs don’t match up. This presents a source of confusion for even the most tech-savvy end user. And whenever an end user gets confused by something tech-related, their first instinct is always to call IT.
It’s no wonder then that every system admin, at some point in their career, has toyed with the idea of setting up a tent in the conference room and just doing their work from there.
Here’s a quick overview of the cables and adapters that are responsible for wreaking the most havoc in the conference room, leaving IT departments with no choice but to use their system admin as cable connectivity troubleshooters.

1. HDMI to HDMI Cables

Kevin from Home Alone is horrified by the prospect of using HDMI cables in his conference room.
If your goal is to connect a computer to a TV screen or projector through a cable, HDMI cables can be pretty handy. All HDTV’s come with an HDMI input, as do virtually all projectors that were manufactured during the last five years. HDMI outputs are also fairly commonplace on higher-end laptops (although Apple seems to be phasing them out). So if you’re dealing with equipment younger than your average kindergarten student, an HDMI cable should do the trick.
A few things to consider though: Do you buy just one HDMI cable and have your end users share it from a connectivity box in the center of the table, or do you buy multiple HDMI cables and install a connectivity box at each seat? No matter which option you go with, things are bound to get messy, so you may want to look into getting a cable management box to handle the extra slack. And since HDMI cables have a well-known propensity to go missing, you may want to buy a few back-ups.
Is your cable collection starting to get a bit unwieldy? Better brace yourself: It’s about to get a whole lot unwieldier.

2. VGA to VGA Cables

VGA cables make Matthew McConaughey weep.
Although HDMI cables have been the standard for the last several years, not all projectors come equipped with an HDMI input. A surprising number of old war horses from the pre-HDMI era still work perfectly fine and are still in widespread use. Likewise, not all laptops come with HDMI outputs. There are still thousands of 2011/12 MacBooks kicking around that may not be able to handle El Capitan, but still run Leopard perfectly fine. Better get some VGA cables to send through that connectivity box (or boxes).

3. VGA to HDMI

From this day forth, Scarlett O'Hara swears she will never use VGA to HDMI cables again.
What if the projector you’re using only has an HDMI input but the laptop only has a VGA output (or vice versa)? Don’t worry: Buying a handful of VGA to HDMI cables should solve this problem.
You may want to buy a label maker too: VGA cables look almost identical to DVI cables (the next item on this list), which can cause endless confusion.

4. DVI to HDMI (plus 3.5mm male-to-male audio cable just to be safe)

Although DVI to HDMI cables were not around in Joan of Arc's day, experts speculate that she would've disliked them.
A world in which every single connectivity problem involving laptops, projectors, and TVs could be solved with just three cables would be an annoying one, but at least it would be tolerable. Unfortunately, that’s not the world in which we live. DVI cables also exist, and they can only handle resolutions of 1,920 x 1,200 with no audio, so if your presentation involves sound, a separate audio cable is required. Have fun with that.

5. Thunderbolt to Thunderbolt/HDMI or Mini DisplayPort to Mini DisplayPort/HDMI

Thunderbolt cables are amazing for transferring huge files quickly, but do they belong in the conference room? Laura Dern fromEnlightened seems to think not.
Thunderbolt 3 cables have a bandwidth of 5 GB/s and can drive two external 4K displays at 60 Hz. For this reason, they’re pretty much indispensable for people who work with video shot at extremely high resolutions. Will they be useful in the context of a business meeting? Having a couple on standby couldn’t hurt.
And don’t forget to invest in a few Thunderbolt to HDMI/VGA adapters while you’re at it. You never know when those will come in handy.

6. Lightning to HDMI and Lightning to VGA

"What's in the box?" Hopefully not cables, thinks Brad Pitt from Seven.
What if someone forgot their laptop at home and wants to give their presentation through their iPhone? Better stock up on some lightning cables in order to prepare for that contingency. (You may want to buy a few bottles of Tylenol also).
By now, the collection of cables you have in front of you is so big that you may require multiple wheelbarrows to carry them around. Is it any surprise that end users don’t find this web of cables intuitive and need to bring in a system admin to bail them out?
(Editor’s note: To avoid the cable pile-up described in this article, we recommend investing in a wireless presentation system which allows end users to connect their laptops to the conference room screen in 1 second without any hassle. As chance would have it, we offer a free 14 day trial of a wireless presentation system on this very website. Click here for more info).
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Conference Room Cable Management Checklist

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Just as the invention of the printing press eliminated the need to copy out entire books by hand, just as the invention of the airplane shortened the trip from New York to LA by 35 hours, and just as the invention of e-mail made it unnecessary to send pieces of paper across the Atlantic and then wait two months for a response, so too can conference room technology help your company reduce the preposterous amount of time you waste in unproductive meetings each year (about 372 hours, according to one study) .
Here are 5 conference room technology investments you should make in order to enhance the business meeting experience:

Wireless Presentation Solution

It used to be the case that if you wanted to accompany your business presentation with a visual aid, you’d have to print it off on a sheet of paper, get the paper made into a transparency, and then book an overhead projector to show it.
Now all you have to do is connect your laptop to a screen or projector.
Unfortunately, this isn’t always as easy as it sounds. In conference rooms that rely on wires, finding the right cable or adapter can be just as time-consuming as making a transparency. Laptops come with so many different video outputs (HDMI, VGA, DVI, mini DisplayPort, etc) that accommodating them all is an exercise in futility.
This is why a wireless presentation solution can come in handy. By taking wires out of the equation, end users just have to press a button to connect their laptops. Needless to say, the amount of time it takes to press a button isn’t quite the same as the amount of time it takes to call up the IT department and ask them to rush over to the conference room with a VGA-to-HDMI adapter.

Visual Display and AV Equipment

Presentation software and hardware can only work to their full potential with the right visual equipment in place. Projectors, 4K TVs, electronic whiteboards, interactive displays, etc. can bring thoughts and ideas to life. For team activities, the display is the stage for real-time, in-depth discussion. People can connect, see each other, and heighten the meeting experience without time and location barriers.

Productivity Tools

One of the biggest culprits of meeting room time-wastage is the non-delivery of deliverables. If a team member hasn’t adequately prepared for the meeting, everyone loses. A great way to keep everyone on track is to invest in productivity tools such as Trello, Azendoo, or Redbooth.

Unified Communications

The number of communication tools — both hardware and software — currently available is staggering. By investing in a unified communications system, you can create a centralized location for tools on your network to be accessible from anywhere. This makes communication easier, both inside and outside the conference room.

Meeting Room Scheduling Software

It can be hard to have a productive meeting when all of the meetings rooms in your building are booked. By implementing meeting room scheduling software such as Teem, you can make sure that double bookings are a thing of the past.
Meeting room software can also help you optimize your meeting rooms. If a large room with a projector is constantly getting booked by a small group that never uses the projector or a small room with no projector is always being used by a large group that needs a projector, your company would greatly benefit from Teem.


Any investment you make in your company’s conference room technology comes down to the people who will be using it. It is important to consider them in your decision-making process. We all want to have the best technology available to our teams. Make the right decisions to make sure technology is working with—and not against—you and your colleagues.
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7 Must-Have Video Inputs For Your Conference Table Connectivity Box

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Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to mourn the loss of the shared conference room PC, a device which leaves in its wake an imposing and far-reaching legacy. Although this legacy is mostly built on a foundation of headaches, frustration, despair, we must remember that the device did work on occasion. And when it worked, it worked well. Or at least semi-well.

To say that the shared conference room PC left us too soon would be wildly inaccurate. Nor can any of us say with a straight face that it will be missed. But to openly gloat over its demise at its own funeral service (as many of us here are no doubt tempted to do) would be tremendously undignified. It is therefore with the utmost solemnity that we extend our condolences to its surviving relatives—the conference room chair, the conference room table, and the dry erase board.

From the moment it was first introduced into the conference room, the shared PC demonstrated a faint glimmer of potential. In fact, for end users who finished their PowerPoint projects a day prior to their presentations, it was almost the ideal solution. All the end user had to do was e-mail the PowerPoint file to the IT department, who would then load it onto the shared PC, and—provided that there were no compatibility issues—the presentation would be ready to go.

Sure, it didn’t always work seamlessly. Login procedures were complicated, boot up times were slow, and software updates were constant. But it got the job done most of the time. Who here among us could have predicted that it would flame out in so spectacular a fashion?

Then came the BYOD era and, along with it, the beginning of the shared PC’s sad decline.

When your laptop screen can be shared wirelessly with just one click of the button, why bother sending your PowerPoint to the IT department 24 hours in advance? What if inspiration strikes you on the morning of your presentation and you want to make a revision? Then you have to send IT a new version and cross your fingers that the old version doesn’t play by mistake. Sorry, but no one wants to go through all of that.

From IT’s perspective, the benefits of ditching the shared PC were even more obvious. Why go to all the effort of making sure the shared PC always has the latest version of PowerPoint (not to mention all of the other presentation programs that are quickly gaining popularity) prior to every meeting? Why waste time downloading 12 different presentations and making sure that they all play when your connectivity issues can be solved in one second?

I can’t think of a good reason either.

And so on that note, we bid adieu to the shared conference room PC, an inadequate device which we all grudgingly tolerated because we had no other choice. And now that a choice exists, we can safely send it off to be reunited with the overhead projector in the big conference room in the sky.

This concludes today’s service. Coffee and snacks will be served in the lobby.

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Like lions and hyenas or dogs and postal workers, IT managers and cables are eternal enemies. And yet despite their mutual inborn animosity, these two foes have somehow learned to co-exist semi-peacefully. Apart from the occasional skirmish during the first 10 minutes of most business meetings, neither side aggressively intrudes on the other’s territory. Borders are respected, and tensions (while high) never reach the point where all-out war becomes inevitable.
But now that wireless presentation technology exists, IT managers finally have the upper hand. By implementing it at your workplace, HDMI, VGA, and DVI cords can all be disposed of in one fell swoop, Red Wedding-style. If any user can walk into a conference room and present wirelessly in 1 second, then cables and adapters lose the source of their political power. Without popular support or special interest groups to back them up, they can be safely tossed in the garbage without any significant repercussions.

It may be a sad, undignified death, but don’t weep for the cables. Here are 6 reasons why banishing cables from your conference room is the best thing that could possibly happen to them.

1. Cables Turn IT Team Into VGA Delivery Team

Your IT team didn’t get their degrees in computer science just to help end users connect their laptops to TVs. And yet every time an end user encounters a cable connectivity issue, IT has to rush to the conference room with a handful of VGA adapters to help them out.

While this may have a positive impact on your IT team’s cardiovascular health, overall it’s a waste of their time. Switching to a wireless presentation system can help your IT team reduce the number of pointless errands they have to perform so they can focus on things that matter, like stopping Russian hackers from installing ransomware on your system and extorting you out of $10,000 worth of Bitcoins.

2.Cables Provide Bad Employee Experience in Meeting Rooms

If your end users had to solve a Sudoku puzzle every time they wanted to send an e-mail, they would likely go insane within one month. And yet by offering them a wide array of almost identical-looking video outputs to pick from prior to each presentation, this is exactly what you are subjecting them to in the conference room.

Switching to a wireless presentation solution will instantly eliminate this problem and restore worker productivity/sanity. Your end users and upper management will both thank you for it.

3. Cables Prevent Conference Room Cloud Migration

According to NASCIO, cloud migration is the second top CIO priority of 2016, right behind security/risk management and ahead of consolidation/optimization. You’ve probably already sent e-mail, ERP, and HRIS to the cloud…why not send your conference room to the cloud as well?

4. Different Cables Interfere With Meeting Room Standard

If Conference Room A relies on HDMI wires, Conference Room B relies on VGA, and Conference Room C relies on Apple TV, you’ve got a recipe for confusion on your hands. Having a central dashboard that can monitor all the meeting rooms will help simplify your business and make meetings easier for everybody.

5. Cables Hinder IoT Implementation

Your business has already gotten rid of its Rolodexes, typewriters, tape recorders, and pneumatic tubes, and replaced them with devices that can connect to the Internet. Ten years from now, your HDMI cords will be just as obsolete as any of these items. Better get rid of them soon or risk becoming known as “that company that still used HDMI cords in 2020.”

6. Bad Meeting Room Experience Undervalues IT

IT already gets the blame for everything. Every time a printer runs out of ink, every time a piece of toast gets burned, every time an end user puts their laptop too close to a magnet, IT takes the rap. By switching to a simple, reliable piece of technology in the conference room that any child can use, you can help restore IT’s reputation.

7 Must-Have Video Inputs For Your Conference Table Connectivity Box
Top 10 Conference Room Cable Management Fails of 2016
Conference Room Cable Management Checklist

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Prior to the BYOD era, it was possible to have cables in the conference room without driving everyone within a 5 mile radius to the brink of insanity. In those days, most conference rooms had a shared PC connected to the TV or projector, so as long as each presenter submitted their PowerPoint file a few hours in advance, meetings could run relatively smoothly. Since the shared PC only required a VGA cord, conference room cable management was rarely an issue.

Now that everyone brings their own laptop or tablet to work, this is no longer the case. There are so many laptops currently in circulation with so many different video outputs (HDMI, VGA, DVI, HDMI to VGA, Thunderbolt, etc) that it’s impossible to predict which cables will be required during the meeting. This is why, in order to be adequately prepared for every possible contingency, it’s generally recommended that IT have at least 9 different cables or adapters on hand at all times.

But if you’re thinking of buying a small arsenal of cables for your conference room, your spending isn’t going to stop there: Conference room cable management is an expensive art to master. Here are 9 additional items you’ll need to purchase in order to make all those cables presentable.

1. Cable Management Boxes

Cable Management Box

When you have nine or more cables running to each seat at the conference room table, the end result is going to look a bit like a mad scientist’s lair. One way to minimize the clutter is to buy a ton of cable management boxes and install them at each corner of the table.

Of course, having so many boxes in one room may create the impression that your company is in the process of moving. But hey, at least no one will think that you’re renting out your conference room to Doc Holliday from Back to the Future during your off hours.

2. Connectivity Boxes

connectivity box

Unfortunately, cable management boxes only help cover up the middle portion of the cables and do absolutely nothing to make their tail ends look presentable. For that, you’ll need to put a connectivity box at every seat as well.

3. Floor Cord Protectors

floor cord protector

One of the best ways to hide cables is to put them under the carpet. If your conference room happens to be uncarpeted, you face two issues: 1) people will roll their chairs over the cables, which will chew off the plastic, and 2) people will trip over the cables, sustain a serious injury, and sue the company out of existence.

Investing in a few floor cord protectors will help make sure that the plastic coating stays intact and that your company doesn’t spend all its revenue on legal fees and out of court settlements.

4. Accident Insurance

accident insurance

Companies that don’t invest in floor cord protectors are strongly advised to purchase accident insurance. Putting a dozen people in a room full of tripping hazards and sharp objects is unlikely to end well, and you’ll want to be prepared for the worst possible outcome. 

5. Storage Cabinet With Lock

cabinet with lock

Good conference room cable management is impossible without strong security protocols in place. Cables are the conference room equivalent of hotel towels: Everyone has stolen one at least once in their lifetime, and few have qualms about stealing them again. Keeping some of your cables under lock and key is a good way to slow down the frequency of thefts.

6. Back-up Cables

HDMI cable

No matter how closely guarded you keep your cable stash, at least a few will continue to mysteriously disappear. Having a few back-ups on hand can spare you a last minute trip to Best Buy.

7. Staple Gun

staple gun

Once you’ve figured out how to cover up all the cables that run across the floor, you face a second, more difficult problem: Covering the cables that run against the wall.

If you don’t have the money to put your cables behind the baseboards, you can always put them in front of the baseboards. By firing a staple gun at the cables every two feet, there’s a small chance you’ll end up with a room that looks semi-professional.

8. Elastics

rubber bands

Unfortunately, you may have a hard time finding staples that are wide enough to wrap around nine cables. In which case, wrapping an elastic band around the cables may be your only option. 

9. Tylenol


Your office already has a hand sanitizer dispenser. Why not add a Tylenol dispenser as well? With all those cables, headaches will replace the flu as your company’s number #1 health concern.

If you find this extremely long list of conference room cable management paraphernalia intimidating, you may want to consider a wireless presentation system (like, say, Ubiq). It allows anyone to walk into a conference room and connect their laptop to a screen in 1 second. No cables, no hassles, no headaches.

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Top 10 Conference Room Projectors of 2017
AV System Integrators: Are They Really Necessary?

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Your conference room name can make all the difference in the world. Case in point: Would you rather spend 2 hours in a conference room called “Conference Room #7,” “Meeting Room B,” or “Cash & Ice Cream Giveaway Centre”?
The answer should be obvious, and yet many companies persist in simply naming their conference rooms after numbers and letters. This is a huge missed opportunity for companies to show off their personality and culture. Companies that continue to go this route may as well just name their conference rooms “Taxes & Spinach Zone” or “Intermittent Wi-Fi Area.”
A creative conference room name will make meetings more fun for clients and employees and bring some positivity to the workplace. Here are some great ways to help you get started.

Go With A Theme

One of the best ways to show the personality of any company is to create conference room names based on a theme. If your biggest and most important client sells a product for the beach, you can use that as your inspiration. Choose conference room names based on famous beaches, such as Daytona Beach, Glass Beach, or Bora Bora. Likewise, if they sell cars, get names from the types of vehicles on their lot. These can be names that include Ferarri, Mercedes, Buick, and Chrysler. Or use car models like Malibu, Bolt, and PT Crusier.

Get Inspired By Social Media

Social media is a huge space where people from all over the world can come together and chat. Let this be the inspiration for naming a conference room. Make it fun and use hashtags and other social media driven trends. These conference room names can be #coffeebreak, #Resultsdriven, or #Workinghard. Everything looks better with a hashtag in front of it, even annoying words like #moist, #synergy, and #methinks.

Choose A Name By Location

Many large companies have offices in multiple countries. These businesses can capitalize on this by naming their conference rooms after their locations. The New York team, for instance, can use famous landmarks around town, such as Carnegie Hall, The Brooklyn Bridge, or The Empire State Building. Or they can use the names of other, cooler-sounding cities such as Madrid, Sao Paulo, Reykjavík, Hydrabad, and Tel Aviv. (If the real world is too ordinary for you, there are plenty of fictitious cities with cool-sounding names to pick from, such as The Citadel, New Vegas, Cloud City, Los Angeles 2019, and Neo Tokyo).

Make It a Team Effort

Make naming your conference room a group activity by giving everyone in the office a voice. Allow your employees to get inspired and nominate a conference room name. The whole company can then vote on their favorites. This gets everyone involved and makes conference room renovation fun for the whole organization.

The Company Culture

Most companies have inside jokes or references. If your company falls into this category, then you’re one step closer to having the perfect conference room name. Does everyone in the office love movies and talk about them constantly? Use this as your starting point. Select a title from a certain genre, such as The Big Lebowski, The Money Pit, or Anchorman. If Chuck Norris is a favorite amongst the crowd, choose titles starring this actor, such as Delta Force, Delta Force 2: The Colombian Connection, and Top Dog.

Choosing the right conference room names can be a great experience and can boost office moral. Make sure to put some time and effort into choosing cool new names for company meetings.

Additional Reading
Top 10 Conference Room Cable Management Fails of 2016
5 Must-Have AV Products For Your Conference Room
4 Ways to Simplify Your Conference Room Equipment

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Of all the places that corporate spies would love to gain access to, your company’s meeting room would have to rank pretty high on the list. By eavesdropping for just 10 minutes, a hacker could potentially learn more about your company than most mid-level employees. This is why, if your company is going to bother taking security precautions at all, the meeting room is the place to start.

But in today’s BYOD environment, controlling what goes in and out of the meeting room can be easier said than done. With just one slip up, your meeting room can instantly transform from an impenetrable Area 51-like fortress to the set of a television show that only your rivals watch. Here are some tips to make sure that doesn’t happen.

1. Assess the space

A hidden camera detector will help you assess the space

During a City Council meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina last year, several council members noticed a piece of audio equipment in the room that had a blinking light on it. Rather than investigate, the Council members continued on with their meeting. The next day, they woke up to discover that all of the sensitive information they had discussed was printed in the local paper.

One of the best ways to ensure that something like this doesn’t happen is to assess the room beforehand. Unfamiliar electronic device should be treated with a high degree of suspicion. If the meeting room in question is located in an area outside of your control (like at the office of a company that you’re partnering with), try to schedule a security walkthrough before the event.

2. Control preparation materials


Try to limit physical data as much as possible. Now that everyone knows how to open a PDF, there is no need to head down to Kinko’s and put valuable company secrets in the hands of a stranger. If someone at the meeting insists on distributing paper handouts, make sure the room has a shredder on standby.

If you are using collaboration tools or software to put together figures, graphics, and presentations, make sure that it is with a secure provider and that only select individuals have access to it. If it’s online, never use an insecure network or public Wi-FI. Working remotely from a coffee shop is fun and trendy, but if you use the public Wi-Fi, that latte could end up costing $4 million (the price tag associated with the average security breach).

3. Use wireless presentation software

Ubiq Wireless presentation software

Controlling your own meeting room can be hard enough; controlling someone else’s is just about impossible. For people who present off-site, this poses something of a dilemma. Most off-site presenters resolve the issue by blindly putting their faith in the capability of the site’s IT department. But this needn’t be the case. The risk associated with presenting off-site can be mitigated somewhat by using wireless presentation software that will allow you to upload data straight from your laptop or tablet. This limits the access points and narrows the chance of a breach.

4. Verify attendees

Not Verifying Attendees is Superbad

Like weddings, attendance at large meeting can be difficult to keep track of. In order to prevent uninvited people from showing up, it’s always a good idea to have a list of approved participants, and if feasible, issue ID badges. This way, even if there is a leak, you’ll be in a much better position to find its source.

5. Brief participants


If a meeting contains restricted information, it’s important that everyone at the meeting knows that the information is restricted. Urge the participants to avoid discussing it at the water cooler, give them a tip sheet on how to protect data after the meeting ends, and/or have them sign a short, to-the-point contract regarding the release of information and responsibilities.

6. Restrict the devices used

No Cell Phones Allowed

According to a Ponemon Institute study, leakage of information is the top risk of insecure mobile devices. In 2016, restricting smartphones at a large event is an exercise in futility. You can, however, still ask participants to refrain from using these devices during all or some restricted parts of the meeting. You may be surprised to see how many are willing to oblige. To deal with the hold-outs who are incapable of not looking at their smartphones, you can instruct personnel to help monitor the room and enforce the rule when the meeting is in session.

Additional Reading

How to Protect Your Company Against Hackers
7 Essential Tips to Protect Your Business Against Hackers
10 Tips To Protect An Ecommerce Website Against Hacking And Fraud

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You should never judge a book by its cover, but you should always judge a company by its conference room. If the first thing you see when you arrive at a business meeting is a standard definition TV that’s been strapped to a wobbly cart with velcro in order to prevent it from toppling over and crushing the AV guy whenever he wheels it around, you’ve learned something very valuable about the company’s approach to innovation. Likewise, if you walk into a meeting room and see a 4K TV that’s been mounted so that the screen is perfectly flush with the wall, your reaction will be, “If this company knows how to do that, they can do anything.”

Here are 5 AV products you need to buy in order to create that sort of impression.

1. 4K Television

Samsung KS9500 series

There are a lot of things you can justify not buying—paintings, book shelves, certain pieces of furniture—on the grounds that you are “going for a minimalist aesthetic.” Unfortunately, a good TV is not one of them. In order for videoconferencing and business presentations to work, a large shared screen is absolutely essential. And although they’re expensive and still have some issues that haven’t been adequately addressed yet (good luck finding media that you can play at full resolution), 4K TVs are noticeably better than their 1K counterparts. Even if you don’t actually use the TV to play full 4K video, it’s always better to have 4K resolution and not need it than to need 4K resolution and not have it.

If you have the money to buy a 4K TV, you probably also have the money to hire a carpenter to mount the TV to the inside of the wall. By doing so, you’ll restrict easy access to the HDMI ports at the back, but if you use a wireless presentation solution (like, say, Ubiq) having easy access to the HDMI ports will not be necessary.

Our recommendations:

Samsung KS9500 series
LG OLEDE6 series
Sony XBR-75X940D

2. Telephone

Polycom SoundStation 2

For decades, experts have been predicting that videoconferencing would render Alexander Graham Bell’s 1876 invention obsolete. And yet for some reason the telephone refuses to go away. Perhaps it’s because people are too self-conscious about their appearance, perhaps it’s because no one likes the idea of sending large amounts of data through their 4G network. Whatever the reason, the telephone is here to stay, and you’ll definitely be needing one for your conference room. More specifically, you’ll need one that can provide clear audio, connect multiple lines at once, and hands-free capabilities (speakerphone and microphone included).

Our recommendations:

Polycom SoundStation 2
Avaya B179 Conference VoIP phone

3. Projector

Sony VPL-VW365ES

If your meetings are usually attended by more than 20 people, a 4K TV—as glorious as it is—might not be enough. You may want to consider buying a projector and converting an entire wall into a movie screen. In addition to offering a bigger image, today’s conference room projectors provide greater brightness (lumens), operate clearly in both dark and lit rooms, and are small enough to be portable. High-end 4K projectors can cost as much as $10,000 or even $20,000, so unless your name is Tim Cook, be sure to seriously weigh the pros and cons before buying. (Or just buy a low-end version; few people have actually seen high-end 4K projectors in action, so they’ll be unlikely to notice that you’ve cheaped out).

Our recommendations:

Sony VPL-VW365ES

4. Sound

JBL Basic Double-Zone, 70V Wall Mount Sound System

Investing in a 4K TV or projector can be counterproductive if you don’t also invest in a decent sound system. That stunning 4K resolution will be a lot less impressive if all you can hear coming out of people’s mouths is a muffled garble.

It’s also important to make sure that the people you’re videoconferencing with are able to hear you, so in addition to buying speakers, you may want to buy a few microphones and install them at various points along the conference room table.

Our recommendations:

JBL Basic Double-Zone, 70V Wall Mount Sound System
Atlas Sound 70V Ceiling Mounted Sound System for A/V and Conference Rooms (2 Speakers)

5. Wireless Presentation Solution 

Introducing the Ubiq Hive.

In today’s BYOD environment, a conference room that relies on cables and wires to connect laptops to the TV or projector is simply not feasible. In order to accommodate every laptop that enters the room, you would need to have an expensive and elaborate collection of cables and converters with various outputs on standby (HDMI, VGA, HDMI to VGA, Thunderbolt, Lightning, etc). If you were to attempt to use all of these wires and converters simultaneously, your conference room would resemble a mad scientist’s lair. Better to go wireless.

Our recommendation:

Ubiq Hive

We may not be the most objective people to ask, but we think the Ubiq Hive is pretty sweet. It allows you to present wirelessly from laptops and surface tablets regardless of their video outputs in less than 10 seconds. (For more information on the Ubiq Hive, click here or go to literally anywhere else on this site).

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In his groundbreaking 1972 book Victims of Groupthink, research psychologist Irving Janis examines three case studies: the United States’ failure to anticipate the Pearl Harbour attacks, the Vietnam War, and the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion. Had he written his book a few decades later, Janis may have been tempted to include a few examples from the corporate world, such as Xerox voluntarily giving away its graphical user interface to Apple in exchange for some shares of Apple stock, Kodak suppressing the digital camera that it had invented in order to focus on selling soon-to-be-obsolete celluloid, and Excite turning down a $750,000 offer to buy a little known start-up called Google.
What each of these examples has in common is that they all involve large groups of very smart people making inexplicably poor decisions. Xerox, for instance, is a company that employs over 100,000 people. Surely at least one of them recognized the potential of the GUI to spawn the trillion dollar business we now know as the computer industry?
As it happens, more than a few employees did. In his biography of Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson describes how one enterprising Xerox employee, in a scene that plays like something out of a sitcom, cleverly tried to hide the GUI from Jobs and his Apple associates while giving them a tour of the Xerox premises. Unfortunately for Xerox, these efforts were thwarted by upper management, who remained dead set on giving their game-changing technology away. The company was confident in the belief that it would forever hold a monopoly on the photocopying market, ignored the dissenting voices in its ranks, and as a result you’re probably reading this on an iMac, iPad, or MacBook, and not on the non-existent iXerox.
If poor decision-making of this calibre is possible at the highest levels of the corporate world, it’s possible anywhere. So how do you protect yourself against it? Luckily, Janis outlined 3 warning signs.
1. Overestimation of the Group, Underestimation of Competition
A still from The Princess Bride illustrates one of the key symptoms of Groupthink.

via MovieReviewTheBlog

One of the big lessons that Kennedy learned in the wake of the Bay of Pigs invasion was that he shouldn’t have taken the CIA’s report on Castro’s military ineptitude at face value. As it turned out, Castro’s 20,000 soldiers were more than capable of warding off an invasion of just 1,400 poorly equipped exiles with no ground support.
A report that advocates for a brazen assault against an opponent that’s 20 times larger would, in most circumstances, be greeted with incredulity. “Surely a hilariously inappropriate typo has been made here?” the average person would no doubt wonder. But Kennedy trusted that the CIA knew what they were doing and kept silent.
The Kennedy administration also radically overestimated their ability to keep the invasion plan a secret. When the invasion plan inevitably leaked, the administration bizarrely decided that the leak wasn’t a big deal: Should Castro decide that a foreign invasion was something that he wanted to defend against, the invading force could just flee to the mountains. Once they were in the mountains, it was assumed that they would be assisted by Cuban farmers and peasants desperate to overthrow the Castro regime. These assumptions, it was soon discovered, had zero foundation in reality.
2. Close-mindedness
Sticking your head in the sand: A symptom of Groupthink.

via Sherm-Law

The other big lesson that Kennedy learned was that he shouldn’t have ignored the handful of advisors who warned him that the plan was a terrible idea. “At one stroke you would dissipate all the extraordinary good will which has been rising toward the new Administration through the world. It would fix a malevolent image of the new Administration in the minds of millions,” one of Kennedy’s advisors, historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., wrote in a memo (which Kennedy later admitted “will look pretty good when he gets around to writing his book on my administration.”)
Senator J. William Fulbright also voiced these concerns during a presentation to Kennedy’s cabinet. But rather than invite his cabinet to address Fulbright’s points, Kennedy decided instead to move on to the next order of business and pretend that Fulbright’s presentation never happened.
3. Pressure Toward Uniformity
The poster for Being John Malkovich helps illustrate why the Bay of Pigs invasion was a failure.

via Cineapse

The reason Schlesinger voiced his concerns in a memo rather than during a cabinet meeting was the same reason that many teenagers cite for smoking cigarettes: peer pressure. Kennedy had cultivated an atmosphere in which group consensus was highly valued and Schlesinger didn’t want to be the one to spoil things. ”I can only explain my failure to do more than raise a few timid questions by reporting that one’s impulse to blow the whistle on this nonsense was simply undone by the circumstances of the discussion,” he later wrote. “Our meetings took place in a curious atmosphere of assumed consensus.”
One year later, Kennedy applied some of the lessons he learned from the Bay of Pigs to the Cuban Missile Crisis. He no longer underestimated Castro, listened to his advisors, and deliberately went out of his way to make sure that all dissenting voices were heard. In so doing, he successfully managed to prevent nuclear armageddon, thus allowing Xerox, Kodak, and Excite to make their terrible business decisions in an environment not teeming with deadly nuclear radiation.
Since the publication of Janis’ book, other psychologists and researchers have called some of his claims into question. But even so, it’s probably safe to say that if the most common sentences spoken during your business meetings are, “We’re invincible” and “Apple won’t know what hit them” and “I agree” and “Let’s not hire a consultant,” you may want to take a closer look in the mirror.
Additional Reading
Is Your Business Being Held Back By Groupthink?
6 Steps For Avoiding Groupthink on Your Team
Don’t Let Groupthink Take Down Your Company