You are now standing in front of a group of people waiting for you to teach them something useful. You have already developed a course with great content. You rehearsed it so often that you can probably deliver it in your sleep. You set up the room yesterday afternoon so that you would not have any glitches in today’s presentation. But, are you familiar with the room’s audio-visual equipment?
Why you should get familiar with the audio-visual equipment before you begin speaking?
Each venue has its own peculiarities and requirements and you should get familiar with the audio-visual equipment before speaking. If you don’t do a test run, the following may happen:
- Your laptop is unable to connect to the projector.
- Your connection cannot access the local internet.
- You don’t have the access code or password to operate the device.
- The microphone cord has been spliced and must be replaced.
- The video remote is dead and needs new batteries.
- Someone covered the lens of the ceiling-mounted projector.
You don’t want to run into any of these situations while you are in front of your audience. You thought you have covered all of the possible problems, but there are some that will sneak up on you. Let’s work on some ways to make sure you don’t have to worry about these or other possible challenges.
Venue sizes and layouts matter
When you are preparing to deliver a speech or a presentation, you want to make sure that you have prepared it for the specific room you will be using. After all, not all presentation delivery is the same.
We will cover different size venues, classroom layouts, and delivery methods in the sections below. Each situation requires a slight change in preparation.
Audio-visual equipment for online sessions
You developed content that you are going to transmit via the internet. If you are going to host a live or online session to do that, there are several things you should check ahead of time:
1. Do you have a quiet, private space that will allow you to broadcast without interruption?
If you are live streaming, any interruption will be broadcasted not only to your live learners but also to those who will view your recorded session. Depending on your delivery or facilitation style, the more professional persona you can create, the better.
For example, if you are hosting an interactive stand-up comedy session, you may take a more relaxed approach. If you are advising on investment strategies, you will more likely take a more factual approach. Nobody wants to be taught by a serious comedian since it is neither amusing nor effective.
2. Do you have your video camera and microphone set up properly?
You do not want the top or side of your head cut out of the frame, nor do you want sound problems that make it difficult for learners to hear. Taking time to make sure the audio-visual equipment is working well can set you up for a successful session from the start.
3. Do you know how to toggle between your slides and your live feed?
If all your students see are slides or you talking, they are likely to tune out at some point. However, by changing the format every few minutes, their brains stay engaged. Use videos and live feeds.
4. Do you know how to end the recording and post it to your site?
It’s great if you have a smooth start, but you want to have a clean ending too. You want to be able to cut to your blank screen after you say goodbye. If you have to fumble around trying to end the session, you just unintentionally lowered your credibility. If your camera does not have a remote and is not part of your computer, then you may have to ask someone else to run it for you.
Audio-visual equipment for a classroom
What about the situation when you are standing in a room of 20 – 60 people? How do you handle this?
1. Check internet connection requirements.
If you are in a location that is not your home base, make sure you check with your host ahead of time, so that you know how to connect to their internet.
If you’re planning on streaming any video, check ahead of time that their connectivity supports it. You always want to have a backup plan, in case you can’t go with live streaming.
2. Do you require a projector, or are you bringing one?
Projectors are not available in all venues. If you plan to project slides, it’s always a good idea to confirm whether you need to bring one ahead of time.
It may seem silly, but make sure the lens cap is not on the projector (it happens). And if you want to project your slides but don’t have the capability, handouts of the slides will suffice.
3. Figure out how the screen works.
Is this a manual screen that you have to set up? Does it lower from the ceiling, and if so, can you reach it? Do you have to use the whiteboard or a wall as your screen? You should plan for all these options. If the room has a built-in projector, then it will most likely have a screen too.
4. Check which light switches turn on which bank of lights.
If the room has many light switches, figure out which ones you want to dim when you use the projector.
Audio-visual equipment for a conference
Conference venues are often the easiest to set up. These venues normally have their own audio-visual professionals who are familiar with the equipment and how to run it.
This does not mean that there are no potential problems. You must know what you require and what to say to the audio-visual team.
1. Find out how they want the slides delivered.
Do they want a flash drive? Do they need your laptop?
2. Make sure the slides are created so they are visible.
Cramming too much information on your slides will make them difficult to read and may cause your participants to disengage.
3. Learn how to use your electronic notes on the podium.
Again, do you need a password to access the venue’s internet? If you have your notes in the cloud, be sure you can access them before you arrive in front of the people who came to hear what you have to say.
4. Check for sound dead spots.
It is quite common in large venues where the microphone may stop working until you step into a different area of the stage.
- Practice part of your presentation.
- Walk all over the stage. Is the microphone you are using corded? If it is, practice avoiding the cord. If it is wireless or a headset, ask the audio-visual team if new batteries will be installed before your presentation.
- Check with someone in the audience if your microphone goes dead at any point.
- Ask your listener to move around the room to make sure the volume works everywhere in the room.
- Make a note of where the microphone volume or gain levels are set. Those will be the minimum settings as they are likely to be turned up when the room fills up with people.
- If you are using a cardioid microphone, test to make sure your voice is being “picked up” correctly.
Lights, camera, action
Now that you have gone through these extra set-up steps, you can rest assured that you won’t be the one asking why the projector isn’t working.
Try out the audio-visual equipment especially the microphones when you are rehearsing.
And even if something goes wrong with the equipment when are delivering your speech, you are a professional and you can roll with it. Just give the fantastic presentation you prepared regardless of what happened to the equipment.