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Audiovisual Design Tips for a Corporate Presentation Space Worthy of a TED Talk

Ben Shemuel
New Relic Portland Audiovisual Design
New Relic, Portland, OR ©Christian Columbres

With all-hands meetings, knowledge shares, events, and exhibitor demos becoming more common, organizations expect more from their internal presentation spaces. These areas have to be dynamic, flexible, and easy to use. In addition, presenters often want to reach colleagues beyond the office walls, in remote locations, and even at different times, so recording these events has to be as easy as using a TiVo.

A great audiovisual setup can elevate communication and collaboration at your organization. Here’s how.

What Users Want:

Dynamic

Making a presentation space dynamic can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. That said, the most enjoyable all-hands areas TEECOM has recently created use video walls: large video screens comprised of a matrix of smaller individual displays, like the photo above. These screens provide several key advantages:

  • Big image, so all the viewers in the room can see the presented content;
  • Bright picture, so lights don’t have to be dimmed;
  • Multiple windows, allowing presented content to display alongside video from remote participants’ cameras.

While video walls provide an impressive image, with careful design, lower-cost projection systems can also be successful.

Flexible

All-hands areas with great image and sound systems are too good to use only for all-hands presentations. Other uses include:

  • Training sessions;
  • Vendor presentations;
  • Social events.
Adobe San Jose HQ
ADOBE, SAN JOSE, CA ©EMILY HAGOPIAN

Easy to Use

When audiovisual systems are easy to use they are used frequently. The converse is true, too: when they’re difficult to use — if controls involve too many button pushes, the use of several remote controls, or a call to the IT Support Desk — these expensive systems collect dust.

Carefully designed audiovisual controls provide user interfaces — usually touch panels/iPads — that only require one or two button pushes to turn the AV system on in presentation mode.

Presenters don’t like to turn their backs to audiences to confirm they’ve got the right slide on the screen. Including a confidence monitor in the presenter’s line of sight while viewing the audience lets them maintain eye contact and know their place in the presentation. Giving them a “clicker” to move through their presentation liberates them from having to stand at a lectern. The combination of a confidence monitor and a clicker lets presenters feel more comfortable and give their best.

Remote Presentation

One sure way to help staff in far-flung locations feel like they’re a part of the heartbeat of an organization is to include them in all-hands presentations. Ideally, they won’t be mere silent observers, but will be able to participate in Q&A and be viewed by the presenter and viewers at the meeting’s physical location.

Leveraging web-based remote meeting tools like GoToMeeting or Join.Me, meetings may be broadcast to viewers via whatever communication device they use, including smartphones, tablets, or desktop computers. These devices’ cameras and microphones transmit images and voices back to the meeting, but it takes microphones and at least one camera at the meeting to send it out to the world.

While it’s tempting and easy to use inexpensive webcams to capture presenters’ images, results of this approach tend to be poor. The webcam designed to perch on their monitor and pick up an individual’s face provides too wide a field of view when used several dozen feet from a presenter.

For a compelling presentation, take a hint from TV broadcasters. They use high-quality cameras to fill TV screens with a crisp shot of the presenter. This lets them see the presenter’s face as if they were in the room. Broadcasters use wireless microphones, too, so presenters can be heard clearly and are free to move.

Remote viewers have to see the presented content, too. An audiovisual system that interfaces with the presenter’s computer brings the presentation to the far end as if they were in a one-on-one web conference.

TEECOM All-Hands Space
TEECOM, Oakland, CA ©Jan Faye

Presentation Recording

Recording capabilities built into web conference software provide an inexpensive means to record all sides of a presentation — not just the presenter, but their content and dialog with participants. Using these capabilities can be daunting, however, and not all web conferencing software creates universally viewable video files.

Lecture capture recorders may be incorporated into AV systems. These vary in capabilities and cost, but most create files that can be viewed on any device. Some are sold with cataloging software to automate the process of creating and managing a library of recordings. With such a library, staff can search videos by presenter, date, and various other metadata.

Acoustics

While appropriate acoustical provisions — freedom from extraneous sound; minimal reverberation — are key to any presentation space, they’re even more important for one that serves both local and remote participants. Reverberation that’s merely annoying to people in a room can make voices unintelligible to remote listeners.

Acoustical design for a top-notch presentation space isn’t a luxury, it’s as essential as light and air.

The Rest of the Picture

The cherry on the all-hands space sundae is architectural integration. The right use of lighting, finishes, room shaping, making the best use of views outside: all of these contribute to a result that makes presentations exciting to give and to view.

Are you considering a presentation space for your corporate environment? Contact us to learn more about how TEECOM can help.

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Ben Shemuel
Ben Shemuel, Associate Principal

Ben's passion is engineering creative ways to integrate AV systems into facilities’ common networks to keep them as technologically green as possible. He especially enjoys finding solutions for educational environments. An outstanding communicator, Ben intuits his clients’ needs and helps them define, design, and realize their audiovisual visions, from simple to complex.