A reliable audio-video system should be a key component of your conference room if you work with remote team members or are on a hybrid team. Setting up your AV (audio visual) system for conference calls isn't as complicated as it seems.

Here is how you can set up and troubleshoot this system to make sure your conference calls go as smoothly as possible every time.

What is audio-visual technology?

Audio-visual or AV technology refers to systems and devices used to watch and listen to media. You will find this technology in home entertainment systems and in the business world, such as in conference rooms.

What are the main components of an AV system?

Here are some of the components you will typically find in an AV system:

  • Displays. These include laptop and TV screens.
  • Microphones and cameras. These include the built-in microphones and webcams you will find in laptops, as well as USB microphones and webcams.
  • Speakers. You can use the speakers of a TV, laptop, or VoIP (voice over IP) conferencing phone to hear remote team members.
  • Connection. You will need to connect the components of your AV system to the internet, either with a Wi-Fi or Ethernet connection.
  • Video conferencing software. Using plug and play video conferencing software (when you can plug in a device and it works instantly without having to download additional software or programs) allows you to make calls and sometimes automatically optimize your display and sound.

How to connect a laptop to a TV monitor

You will need to use a laptop or desktop computer connected to the internet to receive video calls from remote team members. The video playback will appear on your computer, but you can connect it to a TV monitor so that everyone in the conference room can easily see the screen. (This is beneficial to remote teammates! Be an ally and speak up.)

Using an HDMI cord to connect a laptop to a TV monitor is the easiest solution. HDMI ports deliver a high-quality connection and support audio and video connections. You can use mini or micro HDMI cables to connect a tablet or phone to a TV display.

If you are using a MacBook or another Apple product, you can use the Thunderbolt port (L below) or Mini DisplayPort (R below) on your laptop and connect it to the HDMI port of your TV. You can establish a DVI to HDMI connection for video playback from a desktop computer to a TV or use S-video ports if you are using an older laptop or TV.

If you establish a DVI or S-video connection, you will need a separate 3.5 mm cable for the audio connection. Once you have connected your laptop to a TV screen, you will need to indicate that you want the video playback to be sent to the TV display:

  • Use the TV remote to select the right input. There should be an input or source button on the remote. Press it and choose HDMI or PC.
  • If your operating system is Windows, press the Windows button and P. A pop-up will appear and let you select different options to cast your laptop screen on a TV, including duplicating your screen, splitting the display or using the TV or laptop screen by itself.
  • If you are using an Apple product, open the Apple menu and click on system preferences. You should then select displays and arrangements. You can then select the mirror display options, or set the TV as your primary display.

You might need to follow additional steps to select the right output for the sound. If you are using Windows, right-click on the sound icon in the bottom right corner of your taskbar. Select sounds and playback. You will be able to select the correct output.

If you are using an Apple product, open the Apple menu and choose system preferences. Click on sound and select output. You can then select the TV speaker or another output source.

How to troubleshoot common video conferencing issues

If the video looks pixelated once it is displayed on your TV screen or if it doesn't take up the entire TV display, you need to adjust the aspect ratio. Most recent TVs use a 1920x1080 pixels resolution while an older TV might use a 1366x768 pixels resolution.

  • If you are using Windows, press the Windows home button and X. This will open a quick access menu where you can select settings, then system and display. You can change the aspect ratio of the screen in this menu.
  • If you are using a Mac, open the Apple menu and choose system preferences and accessibility. You can check the "smooth image" option to get rid of the pixelated aspect of the video playback if needed. You can also enable keyboard shortcuts you can use to zoom on the image and adjust the aspect ratio.
  • If there are issues with the audio, press the Windows home button and X. Select control panel in the quick access menu that pops up and troubleshooting. You will then find an option to troubleshoot audio playback.
  • If you are using a Mac, open the Apple menu and choose system preferences. Navigate to sound, and check the sources selected in the input and output tabs. You will also be able to adjust the sound volume.
  • If you notice a delay in the video or audio, if the call freezes or is dropped, the issue is likely coming from your connection. Use an Ethernet connection instead of Wi-Fi or consider upgrading your router. Are you making this common video conferencing mistake?

AV systems and conference room solutions are more accessible than ever before thanks to the wide range of devices and software created for conference calls. You can simplify your AV system even further by adding a smart Meeting Owl to automatically capture video and audio when a team member speaks.

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