Preparing the Equipment

Not long ago a motivational speaker was appearing at a local hotel. The room was packed with an upbeat, enthusiastic crowd. After repeated tries the emcee finally caught the attention of the group and introduced the speaker. Moments after he began to speak he was met with a chorus of, “We can’t hear you!” It took about 5 minutes to get someone from the hotel to adjust the volume and for the speaker to get on with his presentation. He recovered well and made a joke of the situation, but it was still embarrassing and it could have been prevented with these simple suggestions:


Test the equipment – We may feel that the hotel A/V department or our own staff is competent to prepare the equipment and make sure it works. However, when the presentation starts it’s our reputation that is on the line. If your talk was important enough to spend hours preparing, then it should be important enough to spend a few minutes testing the equipment. Make sure that your laptop is compatible with the LCD projector and that your slides are readable in that room. Do a sound check with the microphone and walk around to make sure that there is no feedback. Take the time to try out your equipment and you will avoid many embarrassing situations.


Know who can help – Often a hotel or corporate audiovisual system is very complex and confusing. Miles of wires and numerous unmarked sockets can make it virtually impossible for someone who is unfamiliar with the system to make adjustments or to plug in their own equipment. Sometimes the control panels are even under lock and key! Therefore it is crucial for you to have a contact person at the facility that can help you to both set up the equipment and come to your rescue if problems should occur.


Have a backup plan – Despite all of the best laid plans and preparation there will be occasions when problems will still crop up. What will you do if there is a total or partial equipment failure? Be ready to work with just a flip chart or a white board. As a last resort be able to deliver your message without any visuals at all.

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