40 tips for taking control of the meeting room

By J. Carlton Collins, CPA

The event planners or facility staff will typically set the facility according to their preferences, but as the presenter, you should review their efforts, and make any adjustments necessary to better accommodate your audience and deliver the best possible presentation. The accompanying checklist provides tips that should help you accomplish this goal.

Meeting room setup:

1. Locate the thermostats and ensure the room temperature is properly adjusted.

2. Locate the light controls and ensure lights are properly adjusted.

3. If applicable, close curtains so the rising sun does not wash the projection screen.

4. Ensure staging is large enough that you do not accidentally step off stage.

5. Ensure the lectern or tables are positioned properly so they don’t fall off the stage.

6. Ensure the speaker’s table or lectern does not block the projection screen.

7. Drape the speaker’s table as a finishing touch and to improve acoustics.

8. If the meeting room has a concrete floor, ask for a carpet remnant to stand on to help cushion your feet, knees, hips, and back.

9. You should stand for the entire performance, but ask for a tall bar stool anyway in case you need to sit down for a moment

to rest your feet, legs, or back.

Electrical setup:

10. To protect equipment, ensure ground wire prongs have not been removed from extension cords.

11. Ensure surge-protected power strips are used to protect delicate A/V equipment.

12. Ensure electrical and A/V cables are taped down. (Often cables are improperly positioned in front of the screen, in which case I reposition them along the walls to prevent tripping over them.)

13. Install power strips for the audience so they can use their devices for note taking and viewing e-materials.

Microphone and speaker setup:

14. Use a lavalier microphone to keep your hands free so you can operate your computer.

15. Test the microphone throughout the room, adjusting the volume and settings as needed.

16. Ensure that you have extra batteries when using wireless microphones.

17. Provide an extra wireless microphone for audience questions.

Projector and screen setup:

18. Avoid fast-fold projection screens as they allow half the light to bleed through, so only half the light bounces back toward the audience.

19. Ensure the projection screen is large enough for back row participants to see clearly.

20. Ensure the projection screen has been elevated to its highest possible position.

21. For a polished look and improved acoustics, drape the edges of the screen with curtains.

22. Ensure the data projector is bright enough and not set to economy mode.

23. Ensure the projector is positioned far enough away so that the image fills the screen.

24. Adjust the projector’s keystone if necessary (so the projected image is a rectangle, not a rhombus or trapezoid) and focus the image.

Computer setup:

25. Elevate computers used during the presentation to elbow height (using empty boxes, e.g.) so you don’t have to hunch over to type.

26. Set up a second computer as a backup, just in case.

27. Test the internet connection early and call for assistance if troubleshooting is necessary.

28. If the wireless internet connection is slow, try switching to wired for faster access.

29. Ensure that browser search filters are turned on if you intend to search the web.

Seating:

30. Ensure that sufficient seating is provided.

31. Ensure that seats are positioned as close to the screen as possible for optimum viewing.

32. Ensure aisles and walkways are spaced properly, not too wide or too narrow.

33. Add tablecloths to improve room acoustics and enhance audience modesty.

Other:

34. Place water or a beverage close by to keep your throat moist throughout your presentation.

35. Use a straw to prevent spilling your drink on your coat, shirt, or blouse.

36. Install directional signs on roads and in hallways to help your audience find their way to the presentation.

37. Ask audience members for assistance in shutting doors to minimize noise and distractions.

38. If a minor problem occurs, ask a volunteer to summon assistance so you can continue.

39. Ask the audience periodically if the temperature is adequate and adjust if necessary.

40. Turn up the lights during breaks and at the end of your presentation.

J. Carlton Collins is a technology consultant, CPE instructor, and a JofA contributing editor.

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