Meetings & Conventions: Planner's Portfolio January
Back to Basics
By John Potterton, CMP
CHOOSING THE RIGHT A/V EQUIPMENT
Basic knowledge and clear communication help an event go
Meeting day is here. The planner arrives on site at 7 a.m., and
already there is a minor disaster. Executive Joe Smith has been
testing the setup, and he is upset because the images in his
PowerPoint presentation appear dim and some of the graphics are
difficult to read. The planner suggests closing the blinds and
dimming the lights. “That’s unacceptable,” Joe insists. “This is a
presentation to our top clients, and we need it to be interactive.
We can’t have our guests sitting in a dark room.”
Similar scenarios happen in meeting rooms hundreds if not
thousands of times a day. Expectations are not being met by the
available A/V, and money is being wasted because meeting planners
and suppliers do not know what questions to ask to get the most out
of presentation technology. Here are some tips that can save
aggravation and embarrassment.
WHO IS IN THE SEATS?
First, be sure you know the meeting’s purpose. In the situation
above, the executive should have made sure the planner knew to whom
he would be presenting, and the planner should have asked for this
information up front. It seems like such a simple and basic step,
yet I am amazed at how infrequently this communication occurs.
Once you have a clear understanding of the purpose, you can
choose the perfect piece of equipment. What Joe needed for his
presentation was an LCD or DLP projector. For the moment, LCD is
the industry standard, but hard on that technology’s heels is DLP,
or digital light processing, a prismatic- mirroring system created
by Texas Instruments.
For sharpness, the feature to look for in either an LCD or DLP
projector is XGA, which is compatible with virtually all laptops.
Do not accept a projector that is SVGA. These models compress the
1024-by-768-pixel image coming from the laptop into a projected
image of 800-by-600 pixels. This can distort colors, and letters
and numbers might appear to be missing parts, leading to complaints
from attendees that the image is not focused.
For brightness, be sure the equipment offers at least 800 ANSI
lumens of light, although 1,000 to 1,500 is better. Do not accept a
projector that uses fewer than 800 lumens. The higher the number,
the clearer the picture will be when the lights are on.
If your meeting includes video, request an LCD or DLP projector to
display it on a large screen. The image will be more impressive
than if it were displayed on a video monitor, and chances are you
will be using the LCD projector anyway.
To further enhance the video presentation, ask a technician to
bypass the built-in audio speaker in the projector and connect the
output of the audio to the facility’s in-house sound system.
Now that videoconferencing is more affordable, you could be asked
to plan one of these events in the near future. Do not be surprised
if you experience difficulty establishing and maintaining a
connection via phone lines. Have personnel on site who are well
versed in setting up and troubleshooting the equipment you have
For a picture that is close to TV-quality, insist on using three
ISDN phone lines. Any fewer will result in a choppy, distracting
Finally, keep up with the trends in presentation technology, and
ask questions when you do not understand. What works now most
likely will be outdated in a year or two. The more knowledgeable
you become, the easier it will be to do your job and the more
valuable you will be to your clients.John Potterton, CMP, is director of business development for
the Summit Executive Centre in downtown Chicago.
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