We usually have three different scenarios for AV setups in our company's meetings:
Staff training in our training room
Client or vendor demonstrations in our conference rooms
Offsite presentations at a client's office or at trade shows
Each of these setups requires proper planning for a successful show. Our IS department staff is trained to set up each of these types of meetings.
For the sake of the equipmentand good client impressionswe don't like to send our people out the door with expensive and delicate equipment that they've never handled. All first-time presenters spend time in our training room to learn how to connect the projector to the notebook and go over the basics of running a presentation. This time also gives the new presenter a chance to rehearse and practice the timings of the slide show.
The following sections describe the equipment we use for each AV use scenario.
Our training room is equipped with a ceiling-mounted projector; electronic drop-down screen; and AV desk with pushbutton source switching for its built-in PC, guest PC access, VCR, DVD, satellite TV, and auxiliary jack. Speakers are recessed in the ceiling. While not a technical aspect of our training room, what presentation would be complete without jotting figures on a whiteboard? Room-width boards are mounted on opposite ends of the room.
The training room can be divided into two rooms with a partition wallwe call it combining and decombining. Dual-zone audio amplifiers separate the sound for the partitioned rooms, so that two different presentations or meetings can take place simultaneously.
Lighting is also controlled in two zones. To make sure that people don't accidentally turn off the lights in the other half of the room when the partition is closed, we only installed light switches that control the half of the room where the switch is located. To turn on/off all the lights in the whole room, we have to use the switches in both halves, but it beats the alternative.
We're constantly finding more uses for these two-in-one training facilities.
For scheduling, we use an Outlook resource calendar to reserve the two halves of the training room. Our IS staff prepares for meetings by reviewing the resource calendar to determine when to open and close the partition and combine/decombine the audio. The ceiling-mounted projector and built-in screen work for one end of the room when the two halves are separated, and the portable screen and AV cart handle the show on the opposite side.
We use Microsoft Outlook to schedule all our resources, including the AV cart, conference rooms, and both halves of the training room. Our IT staff monitors the resource calendars and helps avoid scheduling conflicts by suggesting alternate locations or equipment when necessary. For example, suppose two groups both wanting the training roomone wants to have a meeting, the other wants to teach a class. Obviously, the class needs the AV technology more than the group that just needs a place to congregate.
Client Conference Room
The client conference room is equipped with an electronic drop-down screen. Everything else in on the AV cart. Wall-mounted whiteboards fold closed when not in use. Because this room gets a lot of use other than with AV presentations, the cart remains out of site in a closet across the hall. We didn't want it cluttering up the look of the room.
We stock two portable projectorseach with an extension power cord and a power stripthat can be taken out of our office to host offsite presentations. Sometimes a staff member needs to travel out of town to do a presentation. One of our projectors has a hard case that can be checked as baggage on an airplane. The other has a soft-sided case with a smart zipper-attached bag to hold a notebook computer.
A radio frequency (RF) remote is a helpful addition. The RF remote attaches to the notebook computer and controls the mouse buttons. RF removes the line-of-sight restrictions that come with most infrared (IR) remotes. RF also works from further away, so you can walk around a large presentation hall while speaking and still be in control of your slideshow. Our RF remote even has a built-in laser pointer, which is a good investment if you do many traveling shows. Without a remote, you're tied to the computer to use the mouse or the arrow buttons to drive your presentation.