It’s something many of us may take for granted but hearing is actually a difficult and exhausting process for people’s grey matter. It is a biological fact that people hear with their brain, not their ears. Hearing and understanding speech is a cognitive process, as the brain analyses and gives meaning to the sounds received in the ears. Whenever there are missing sounds or too much noise, the brain will either try to fill the gap or filter out the less audible sounds.
So why the science lesson, you might ask, when this is a business blog, not a biology lesson? We apologise for pointing out the glaringly obvious, but the simple fact is hearing sounds and processing that information is fundamental to communicating in business. In a meeting room scenario, audio is clearly critical to the success and effectiveness of the meeting.
We’ve all had to endure meetings where there’s been inaudible remote participants and conference call cock-ups. People straining to hear, busy background noise, voices dropping in and out and enthusiastic conference chairs pacing around a room talking while the remote participants miss half of the conversation.
Our brains are not great at multi-tasking and hearing is the most challenging of all of the senses to handle. Typically, the brain reacts to the loudest source of input. When you throw into the mix things like background noise, low volume, line static, echo and distortions, the brain has to work extra hard to focus and process. Ever wondered why people get “brain drain” after being stuck in meetings. The cells are going into overdrive and poor audio quality is a significant contributing factor.
What we need to do is improve the audio quality for meetings and conference calls. Allowing people’s brains to focus on the task at hand, rather than trying to decipher inaudible conversations. The solution lies in new technology and the latest breakthrough systems capable of delivering the highest quality audio performance.
If we go back to the science, this hearing process of digesting multiple sounds and making sense of them has been deemed the ‘cocktail party effect’. The phenomenon of being able to focus our auditory attention on a particular stimulus while filtering out a range of other stimuli - like partygoers trying to focus on a single conversation in a noisy room. Hence the name. The point is, it takes a lot of effort from the brain and, when it comes to business and getting the right communication and collaboration, do we really want this wasted time, missed communication and lost productivity?
One technological solution that has emerged onto the market is Nureva’s HDL-300 conferencing system that has the power to simultaneously process every audio source in a room, so even remote participants can feel like they’re right there with their team. The system is powered by Nureva’s patented Microphone Mist™ technology, which, put simply, means a room is filled with 8,192 virtual microphones.
No matter where a speaker stands, how they move or what direction they’re facing, a microphone will pick up their voice. The HDL-300 can also tell the difference between multiple people speaking and distracting background noises, people can hear what they need to hear for a more natural sense of communication.
Another contender that promises a ‘new era in phone conferencing’ is the Minto system from Swedish meeting room expert Evoko, which eliminates background noise, distractions and boosts comments that can’t be heard. Evoko Minto is an intelligent piece of kit and has a remarkable ability to hear what’s important and what isn’t, due to its special sound-improvement software. It works with mobile phones, tablets or laptops and uses speech enhancement technology to make voices clearer.
These new technological advancements are making themselves heard by ensuring participants in meetings and on conference calls stay engaged, keep actively involved are not left drained at the end of the meeting. The cognitive process is being used to focus on business rather than sounds. A solution worth thinking about. No ‘cocktail party effect’, just more effective meetings