Wednesday, August 31, 2011

What size screen do I need at my event for presentations?

Most meeting and event planners simply let their audio-visual provider decide this for them – and why not? Those professionals often know what will work best in most situations, so it is easier to just let them make the decision. Well, those of you who have followed my posts for a while will know that answer is not good enough for me. I want to know how to make that decision myself – not because I don’t trust them to make the right one – but because I can do a better job of planning the event if I know the answer myself. I can find better event space (or make better use of what we have), I can get more out of my AV provider (by speaking to them intelligently about my group’s needs), and I can better advise my clients about what needs to be done and why. So how do I determine the size of screen needed for a room?

One of the main rules I keep in mind is that the base of the screen typically needs to be at least four feet above the floor [note: some AV companies recommend five feet minimum]. This means that the image projected on the screen (which usually fills the screen) sits at or above head level for a seated audience, allowing everyone to see the presentation. If the audience is standing, then the bottom of the projected image will need to be at least six or seven feet off the floor. Why does this matter? Two words: Ceiling Height.

If you are holding your meeting in a ballroom, then the ceiling is probably between fifteen and thirty feet high. Raising a 10’ by 10’ screen so that the bottom edge is four feet above the floor is not going to be a problem. However, what if the ceiling of the meeting room is only ten feet? Now, you are limited to just six feet of space for a screen once you raise it up four feet. If your audience is standing, then you have, at most, four feet left once you raise the screen six or seven feet – and a six by six screen is usually the smallest size available. You would need to either change rooms or switch to using multiple monitors…

The audience size is important as well in determining screen size. If I am expecting 100 people to attend my meeting and I know that I will be seating them at 60” rounds, I will need about 1,500 square feet to seat everyone. [Download Sizing Chart] Let’s assume the ceiling is 12’ high and the room measures 30’ wide by 50’ long. We can fit an 8’x8’ screen or a 6’x6’ screen in the room, based on ceiling height. Which do we need? I would most likely use the 6’x6’ screen. Why? Well, the 2x8 Rule says that, for a 6’x6’ screen, the closest seat should be at least 12 feet from the screen and the furthest seat should not be any more than 48’. Since the room is only 50’ long, even someone at the very back of the room should be able to easily see the screen. Could you use an 8’x8’ screen? Certainly. But, in this example, I would go with the 6’x6’ unless there were specific reasons to use the larger screen instead. As your attendance rises, so does the size of room that you will need. As the size of the audience requires more space, your screen will have to be bigger as well to accommodate that.

So what happens when one screen is not enough for the number of people you have, or when you have to use smaller screens due to ceiling height? You get multiple screens and sync them so the same image is displayed on each screen. I’ll look at when to use those options in a future post…

~ Karl Baur, CMP • Project Director, RDL enterprises