Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The 2x8 Rule of Screen Placement

Have you ever gone into a theater and sat so close to the screen that you felt like you were at the base of a cliff? Or maybe you’ve been at the back of a room trying to watch something on a small TV screen?  Both of these situations make it difficult for you to enjoy the presentation – and we, as planners, want our attendees to be able to comfortably see and hear the presentation.  So how do we do that?  Well, in the world of meetings and conferences, there is actually a rule that guides planners (and others) towards rooms sets that do not place an audience too far from or too near to the screen for a presentation.  It is called the 2x8 Rule.

The 2x8 rule states that the first row of the audience should be seated no closer to the screen than twice the height of the display (which is usually the same as the screen height).  The second part of the rule says that the last row should be no farther away that eight times the display height.  So, if we are using a screen that is ten feet high (and filling it with our display), then the first row should be at least twenty feet away and the last row should be no further than eighty feet away. Simple, isn’t it?

This rule can be used with any type of seating, from theater to classroom to rounds.  Your Convention Services Manager and the AV technicians will automatically work to make sure your audiences are appropriately placed relative to the screen but it is useful for me to know what ratios they are using as I work on the room set ups with them.  I have found this to be an important tool in my meeting planning toolkit.

Now, there are always exceptions out there to any rule and this one is no different.  I have had groups that wanted closer or more distant seating and I’ve worked in spaces or with special sets that did not allow me to apply the rule effectively – but it at least gave me a place to start and I knew when I was creating a set that included less than optimal seating.  Even if your group falls into one of the exceptions, though, I recommend keeping the 2x8 rule in mind anyway.  Stick to the rule as much as possible, and your audiences will have a much more comfortable view.

- Karl Baur, CMP • Project Director, RDL enterprises