Presentation Screening

Where to stand in relation to the screen. During the courses I ran a few weeks ago in New Jersey, I was asked by delegates where the screen should be and where should the presenter should stand. Firstly, we recommend that the screen is in the centre of the audience’s focus, and not off to one side, even though some AV and set designers like this layout. You need to make sure that as many of the audience as possible can clearly see most or all of the screen. In general try to get the biggest screen you can. However, screens can be too big. We once ran a presentation for Jaguar Cars in the factory and built a screen 12m wide. In hindsight it was too much. In most situations you are limited by the height of the ceiling and so too big is unlikely to be an issue. You want the audience’s default focus to be on the screen. Looking at the screen needs to be comfortable for the audience; heads craned back or to the side can become uncomfortable, and people will fidget and stop listening. Make sure that the bottom of the screen can be seen by those in the back row, always ideally placed in the vertical centre. In the West (and some of the East) the human eye moves across a still image in a ‘Z’ – top-left to top-right to bottom-left and finally bottom-right. So on the whole we suggest that you stand on the left hand side of the screen (viewed from the front). You will find that the audience will then look at you just before they look at the screen each time. This makes it easier to judge the information flow. Occasionally with multiple presenters we have run shows with them on alternate sides which works well. My pet hate however is dual screens. So difficult to manage. From a set design point of you they look great but from an audience focus point of view they are a disaster. The presenter can only be close to one and so if I am looking at the other how do I see their cues? We sometimes setup for repeater screens but then we generally use picture in picture with a camera on the presenter so that the audience have a fighting chance. I know this wasn’t a simple answer it does depend on a lot of factors: size and shape of room, acoustics & sound system, size of audience, available technology, lighting, time of day, duration, presenter size, skill .. the list goes on but if in doubt use one screen as large as you can and stand on they left of it.

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