Best Practices: Setting Up The Show Computer
September 7, 2017
by Joseph Lipman, President
You’re in the meeting room for your important presentation and everything looks perfect. There’s a projector with enough lumens, a correctly sized screen so that everyone can see – maybe even a sound system – and the meeting is about to begin. You even remembered the auto-advance slide presenter and the laser pointer. The coffee break is set and lunch is scheduled for 12:30. Did you forget anything?
One sure way to invite “Death by PowerPoint,” is to let more than one person try to hook up their computer to your show projector or to change computers in the middle of your meeting.
In all but the smallest and most informal presentations, we strongly recommend your entire program for the day be contained on and run from a uniquely created directory on a single, dedicated laptop. If you’ve decided to go it alone at your meeting, having a dedicated “Show Computer” that you control, is truly mission critical.
Even if nothing else happens, there’s nothing more disruptive to a program than taking 3 to 5 minutes to switch the projector connection between multiple laptops. The inevitable delay, which results when presenters insist on using their own laptops, breaks the momentum of the meeting. An extended period between presentations encourages people to begin chatting about unrelated matters, take or make “urgent” phone calls, answer emails and generally disrupt the focus on your meeting’s topic. It’s hard to get everyone’s attention back on the screen and the speaker and the message of your meeting.
We all know you can’t stop individual bathroom visits but when more than one or two people slip out of a meeting for a bathroom break, if you wait for them, a five minute break can easily turn into 10 or 15 minutes.
Just a few unnecessary breaks can add 30 minutes to an hour to a morning’s program. The consequences? You may run over your allocated time for the meeting, lose your meeting space to another group which has reserved it, or even worse, people may end up departing before key agenda items are covered. Time is money and when you add up the true cost of unscheduled breaks, you can see how important it is to have rapid transitions between speakers.
What’s worse then this kind of interruption? When switching computers, even if you have an IT technician in the room, you may not be able to establish an immediate projection connection without having to toggle back and forth between output modes. Most computers of the same brand have standard settings but it’s not unusual for different brands of computers to behave differently, with different function keys, brightness and sound controls.
Even more distressing is the hassle of switching presenters’ positions, which can be even more complicated if you’re using an auto advance device (inexpensive and highly recommended but a disaster if you’re switching laptops between speakers!)
And finally, in the worst case scenario, you may even need to turn off the projector, allow it to cool and completely reboot the system to avoid burning out the bulb.
When it’s your meeting, your reputation is on the line if the logistics don’t go well. So don’t take a chance, even if you have to volunteer your own laptop as the Show Computer. Oh, and be sure to take that desktop photo of your toddlers or your new puppy off the screen and replace it with a welcome slide appropriate to your meeting, with today’s date and a color scheme that matches your slide presentations. (You can put the puppy back on after the meeting is over!)
Sure, if you use your own machine as the Show Computer, you won’t be able to answer emails and surf the net during the meeting, but isn’t that something you’d rather your audience not do anyway? What a perfect opportunity to “Lead by Example.”