How many times have you been in a meeting where the technology didn’t work? It’s a frustrating situation for meeting attendees, managers, and for the techs who are responsible for making sure the equipment is working.

David McLaughlin, CTS-D, is Draper’s audio visual regional sales manager for North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Florida. He’s seen this situation many times over the years, and in the following post shares his thoughts on how to avoid it.

After more than 25 years in the integration and staging/rental fields, I have had a number of times where an AV system crashed just before a meeting, leaving the customer hanging out to dry. A $100,000 conference room or a $500,000 boardroom still looks the same when the main display (video wall, monitor, or projector) stops working. It looks like nothing, that’s what it looks like.

And it will happen to you. That 10 grand, 50 grand, or yes even 350 grand you just spent on a display for your room will have issues someday. It is technology and even the best technology fails. The question is, will it fail long enough before the meeting starts that you have time to try to fix it? Maybe. Or, will it fail five minutes before the board meeting, or even during the meeting? Yikes!

For the AV dealer or designer that is an unfortunate event. Your client blames you or your equipment selection, and you lose your client’s confidence and possibly lose them as a client. But for the end user AV person, it’s their Job that is on the line. At a minimum they lose respect from their boss/bosses for having a critical event fail or not go well, and they take the blame. I know this because I have been there.

When I worked in the staging/rental business we often had back-up plans/systems for critical meetings, in case something went wrong. I can’t count the number of times I had to switch to the back-up system to keep a meeting going.

I’ve seen this happen in installed AV systems of all kinds. It happened in rooms that had a mixture of displays, some using monitors, some video walls, and some even with rear projection systems. Seeing these failures caused me to develop back up plans for them which may help you, too.

Here is a backup plan that I used for a number of my installations, especially in important meeting/presentation rooms (even those training rooms that get used all the time).

Install a motorized projection screen
Projection screens can easily fit above the ceiling so they aren’t in the way when not in use, and they can be quickly deployed when the need arises. If possible, make sure the backup screen is a little larger than the monitor/video wall/rear screen. This will hide the display when your backup screen is down and in use. The next time there is a failure with the main display equipment, drop down the projection screen with a simple wall switch.

Use a back-up projector
Depending on the room, you can either recess the back-up projector above the ceiling with a projector lift so you can’t see it until it is needed. If there isn’t enough room to recess the projector, mount it on the ceiling. A third, very basic, option is to have a portable projector standing by to place on the conference table.

Don’t forget the feed
I once had a 32 x 32 router die just before a meeting, which taught me to always run a direct feed to the projector location. If the system fails and you are unable to route the signal, you can still do a “home run” straight to the projector from a laptop, allowing the meeting to continue.

Such a backup plan isn’t for every room, and it does cost more money to install a backup plan. But when you have a room down for whatever reason, it costs your company a lot more money (lost productivity, employee’s time, lost credibility, and in one personal experience, a dozen executives sitting around not having a meeting). Having a back-up plan that includes a projection screen can save your meeting, save your customer, and save your job.

Need some help planning a back-up system? Just ask me or your Draper representative for help! Click here to find the Draper rep for your area.

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