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You should never judge a book by its cover, but you should always judge a company by its conference room. If the first thing you see when you arrive at a business meeting is a standard definition TV that’s been strapped to a wobbly cart with velcro in order to prevent it from toppling over and crushing the AV guy whenever he wheels it around, you’ve learned something very valuable about the company’s approach to innovation. Likewise, if you walk into a meeting room and see a 4K TV that’s been mounted so that the screen is perfectly flush with the wall, your reaction will be, “If this company knows how to do that, they can do anything.”

Here are 5 AV products you need to buy in order to create that sort of impression.

1. 4K Television

Samsung KS9500 series

There are a lot of things you can justify not buying—paintings, book shelves, certain pieces of furniture—on the grounds that you are “going for a minimalist aesthetic.” Unfortunately, a good TV is not one of them. In order for videoconferencing and business presentations to work, a large shared screen is absolutely essential. And although they’re expensive and still have some issues that haven’t been adequately addressed yet (good luck finding media that you can play at full resolution), 4K TVs are noticeably better than their 1K counterparts. Even if you don’t actually use the TV to play full 4K video, it’s always better to have 4K resolution and not need it than to need 4K resolution and not have it.

If you have the money to buy a 4K TV, you probably also have the money to hire a carpenter to mount the TV to the inside of the wall. By doing so, you’ll restrict easy access to the HDMI ports at the back, but if you use a wireless presentation solution (like, say, Ubiq) having easy access to the HDMI ports will not be necessary.

Our recommendations:

Samsung KS9500 series
LG OLEDE6 series
Sony XBR-75X940D

2. Telephone

Polycom SoundStation 2

For decades, experts have been predicting that videoconferencing would render Alexander Graham Bell’s 1876 invention obsolete. And yet for some reason the telephone refuses to go away. Perhaps it’s because people are too self-conscious about their appearance, perhaps it’s because no one likes the idea of sending large amounts of data through their 4G network. Whatever the reason, the telephone is here to stay, and you’ll definitely be needing one for your conference room. More specifically, you’ll need one that can provide clear audio, connect multiple lines at once, and hands-free capabilities (speakerphone and microphone included).

Our recommendations:

Polycom SoundStation 2
Avaya B179 Conference VoIP phone

3. Projector

Sony VPL-VW365ES

If your meetings are usually attended by more than 20 people, a 4K TV—as glorious as it is—might not be enough. You may want to consider buying a projector and converting an entire wall into a movie screen. In addition to offering a bigger image, today’s conference room projectors provide greater brightness (lumens), operate clearly in both dark and lit rooms, and are small enough to be portable. High-end 4K projectors can cost as much as $10,000 or even $20,000, so unless your name is Tim Cook, be sure to seriously weigh the pros and cons before buying. (Or just buy a low-end version; few people have actually seen high-end 4K projectors in action, so they’ll be unlikely to notice that you’ve cheaped out).

Our recommendations:

Sony VPL-VW365ES
JVC – DLAX500R

4. Sound

JBL Basic Double-Zone, 70V Wall Mount Sound System

Investing in a 4K TV or projector can be counterproductive if you don’t also invest in a decent sound system. That stunning 4K resolution will be a lot less impressive if all you can hear coming out of people’s mouths is a muffled garble.

It’s also important to make sure that the people you’re videoconferencing with are able to hear you, so in addition to buying speakers, you may want to buy a few microphones and install them at various points along the conference room table.

Our recommendations:

JBL Basic Double-Zone, 70V Wall Mount Sound System
Atlas Sound 70V Ceiling Mounted Sound System for A/V and Conference Rooms (2 Speakers)

5. Wireless Presentation Solution 

Introducing the Ubiq Hive.

In today’s BYOD environment, a conference room that relies on cables and wires to connect laptops to the TV or projector is simply not feasible. In order to accommodate every laptop that enters the room, you would need to have an expensive and elaborate collection of cables and converters with various outputs on standby (HDMI, VGA, HDMI to VGA, Thunderbolt, Lightning, etc). If you were to attempt to use all of these wires and converters simultaneously, your conference room would resemble a mad scientist’s lair. Better to go wireless.

Our recommendation:

Ubiq Hive

We may not be the most objective people to ask, but we think the Ubiq Hive is pretty sweet. It allows you to present wirelessly from laptops and surface tablets regardless of their video outputs in less than 10 seconds. (For more information on the Ubiq Hive, click here or go to literally anywhere else on this site).

Want to set up a wireless Conference Room?Try Now

When the climate change documentary An Inconvenient Truth was released in 2006, critics marveled at former vice president Al Gore’s ability to deliver a PowerPoint presentation that enormous crowds of people were willing to pay good money to see. If someone with a reputation for being stiff and uncharismatic could use a program notorious for being dull and generic and produce something riveting with it, anything was possible.

Of course, as it turned out, the critics didn’t do their research. Gore’s presentation was done with Apple Keynote, not PowerPoint. But the confusion was understandable. Like the brand names Windex, Xerox, and Kleenex, the word “PowerPoint” has become a regular noun in the English language. We use it interchangeably with “presentation” regardless of whether or not the presentation in question actually uses Microsoft’s program.

The reason for this is simple: Throughout its 26 years of existence, PowerPoint has held onto a 95% share of the presentation software market. According to one estimate, there are at least 350 PowerPoint presentations being made at any given moment. People use the brand name as a synonym for “presentations” because they don’t know of any other brand names that could potentially fit the bill. As far as the general public is concerned, PowerPoint is the only game in town.

But like the climate that Gore described in his famous Keynote speech, the climate of presentation software is rapidly changing. New presentation programs are beginning to emerge, challenging PowerPoint’s two decades of dominance. Here are 6 of them.

1. Prezi
Prezi Logo

PowerPoint’s most dynamic competitor uses zooms and pans to transition from slide to slide. The result is a presentation style that is far more lively and cinematic than what PowerPoint’s linear format is capable of delivering. (Perhaps a little too lively and cinematic: Some have complained that the zooming and panning causes motion sickness, a criticism that several Prezi presentations have addressed). 

But reports of motion sickness didn’t turn people off the Bourne franchise, and they don’t seem to be turning people off Prezi either. The program currently has 26 million registered users, at least a few dozen of whom have given popular TED talks.

2. Haiku Deck

haiku-deck

For those who find Prezi’s zooms and pans distracting, Haiku Deck is the perfect alternative. Its simple, elegant, minimalistic layout is the antithesis of Prezi’s visual overdrive.

The templates aren’t as malleable as in PowerPoint or Keynote, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing if you don’t feel like taking a couple of hours out of your day to learn a new program.

3. Keynote

Keynote Icon

If you had to explain to Martian who knew nothing about human computing technology why Apple is generally regarded as a cooler, hipper company than Microsoft, showing them the differences between Keynote and PowerPoint wouldn’t be the worst place to start. Like most Apple products, Keynote is more intuitive, user-friendly, and features better design than its Microsoft counterpart.

The only major drawback: Keynote only runs on Apple computers, and although you can convert a Keynote presentation to PowerPoint, the conversion is rarely ever perfect. So if you switch between computers frequently, Keynote may not be the best option.   

4. Google Slides

slides

Just as Google Documents has set the standard for collaborative word processing and spreadsheets, so too has it set the standard for collaborative presentations. If you’re giving your presentation as part of a team, Google Slides is probably the way to go.

5. SlideDog

SlideDog logo

If your presentation relies heavily on a wide array of media in unusual formats that aren’t supported by other presentation software, you may want to look into SlideDog. It prides itself on supporting just about every file format currently in existence. It even supports other presentation files, making it the ideal choice for people looking to recycle content from their old Prezi or PowerPoint presentations.

6. PowToon

PowToon Logo

For something different, you can’t go wrong with PowToon. It features a simple, easy to use interface comparable to Haiku Deck, but adds the feature of cartoon animation. So if you want enliven your presentation with some Archer-style comedy, PowToon is your answer.

Regardless of which program you ultimately use, it’s always a good idea to present wirelessly, especially if you’re presenting from your laptop and are unsure of what cables or adapters you’ll need to connect to the TV or projector. Even if you decide to go with Microsoft’s old war horse, you are under no obligation to compliment the outdated software with outdated cables and adapters: A wireless PowerPoint presentation is perfectly feasible with Ubiq’s wireless presentation solution. Click here to request a free demo.

Additional Reading
Best PowerPoint Alternatives
7 Outstanding Example Presentations Using Prezi
PowerPoint vs. Prezi: What’s the Difference?

Want to set up a wireless Conference Room?Try Now

You should never judge a book by its cover, but you should always judge a company by its conference room. If the first thing you see when you arrive at a business meeting is a standard definition TV that’s been strapped to a wobbly cart with velcro, you’ve learned something very valuable about the company’s approach to innovation. Likewise, if you walk into a meeting room and see a 4K TV that’s been mounted perfectly flush with the wall, your reaction will be, “If this company knows how to do that, they can do anything.”

Here are 5 conference room AV products you need to buy in order to create that sort of impression.

1. 4K Television

A must-have AV product: Samsung KS9500 series.

There are a lot of things you can justify not buying—paintings, bookshelves, certain pieces of furniture—on the grounds that you are “going for a minimalist aesthetic.” Unfortunately, a good TV is not one of them. In order for video conferencing and business presentations to work, a large shared screen is absolutely essential. And although they’re expensive and still have some issues that haven’t been adequately addressed yet (good luck finding media that you can play at full resolution), 4K TVs are noticeably better than their 1K counterparts. Even if you don’t actually use the TV to play full 4K video, it’s always better to have 4K resolution and not need it than to need 4K resolution and not have it.

If you have the money to buy a 4K TV, you probably also have the money to hire a carpenter to mount the TV to the inside of the wall. By doing so, you’ll restrict easy access to the HDMI ports at the back, but if you use a wireless presentation solution (like, say, Ubiq) having easy access to the HDMI ports will not be necessary.

Our recommendations:
Samsung QM65F
LG 65UX340C
NEC 65″ X651UHD-2ED

2. Telephone

Polycom SoundStation 2

For decades, experts have been predicting that video conferencing would render Alexander Graham Bell’s 1876 invention obsolete. And yet for some reason, the telephone refuses to go away. Perhaps it’s because people are too self-conscious about their appearance, perhaps it’s because no one likes the idea of sending large amounts of data through their 4G network. Whatever the reason, the telephone is here to stay, and you’ll definitely be needing one for your conference room. More specifically, you’ll need one that can provide clear audio, connect multiple lines at once, and hands-free capabilities (speakerphone and microphone included).

Our recommendations:
Polycom SoundStation 2
Avaya B179 Conference VoIP phone

3. Projector

Sony VPL-VW365ES

If your meetings are usually attended by more than 20 people, a 4K TV—as glorious as it is—might not be enough. You may want to consider buying a projector and converting an entire wall into a movie screen. In addition to offering a bigger image, today’s conference room projectors provide greater brightness (lumens), operate clearly in both dark and lit rooms, and are small enough to be portable. High-end 4K projectors can cost as much as $10,000 or even $20,000, so unless your name is Tim Cook, be sure to seriously weigh the pros and cons before buying. (Or just buy a low-end version; few people have actually seen high-end 4K projectors in action, so they’ll be unlikely to notice that you’ve cheaped out).

Our recommendations:
BenQ SU931
Optoma EH500
NEC NP-P501X
Sony VPL-VW1100ES Native 4K 3D SXRD

4. Sound

JBL Basic Double-Zone, 70V Wall Mount Sound System

Investing in a 4K TV or projector can be counterproductive if you don’t also invest in a decent sound system. That stunning 4K resolution will be a lot less impressive if all you can hear coming out of people’s mouths is a muffled garble.

It’s also important to make sure that the people you’re video conferencing with are able to hear you, so in addition to buying speakers, you may want to buy a few microphones and install them at various points along the conference room table.

Our recommendations:
JBL Basic Double-Zone, 70V Wall Mount Sound System
Atlas Sound 70V Ceiling Mounted Sound System for A/V and Conference Rooms (2 Speakers)

5. Wireless Presentation Solution

No list of conference room AV products is complete without a wireless presentation solution.

In today’s BYOD environment, a conference room that relies on cables and wires to connect laptops to the TV or projector is simply not feasible. In order to accommodate every laptop that enters the room, you would need to have an expensive and elaborate collection of cables and converters with various outputs on standby (HDMI, VGA, HDMI to VGA, Thunderbolt, Lightning, etc). If you were to attempt to use all of these wires and converters simultaneously, your conference room would resemble a mad scientist’s lair. Better to go wireless.

Our recommendation:
Ubiq Hive

We may not be the most objective people to ask, but we think the Ubiq Hive is pretty sweet. It allows you to present wirelessly from laptops and Surface tablets regardless of their video outputs in less than 10 seconds. (For more information on the Ubiq Hive, click here or go to literally anywhere else on this site).

Additional Reading
Conference Room Technology: 5 Investments You Should Make
AV System Integrators: Are They Really Necessary?
Conference Room Design: 10 Examples Worth Studying

Want to set up a wireless Conference Room?Try Now

We’ve all sat through them–presentations that feel like they go on for hours and at the end, you struggle to remember what they were about. Grabbing audience attention and keeping it the entire time is a common problem that many presenters face. In fact, a recent study found that humans only have an eight second attention span. To put that number into perspective, the attention span of a goldfish is nine–one second longer than a human.
Many factors–from lack of wireless presentation software and struggling with equipment set up to outside noise and lack of preparedness–can affect whether or not a presentation is a success. One of the primary reasons why some fail is simply because they didn’t engage with multiple senses, particularly visual. Visual content often increases understanding and engages people, because 90% of information is processed through visual means. On average, people process images 60,000 times faster than text.
When presenters use poor visuals or none at all, it can negatively affect the overall presentation. Deciding what types to use can be difficult, especially when talking about technical and complex concepts. Here are some creative ideas for your next presentation.

Infographics

Infographics take simple facts and statistics and make them more interesting by pairing them with appealing visuals. Although they are most commonly found on websites, they can be a valuable addition to presentations.
For example, when discussing the importance of tech-based employee engagement programs, pairing statistics about the success of these programs with graphics can keep the audience engaged. Showing a few parts of the infographic at a time, then showing the entire infographic can help reinforce the big picture–engaging employees to improve business performance. There are dozens of programs like Piktochart and Easel.ly that allow users to create infographics at no-cost.

Interactive Graphs

The technical term for pairing data with visuals is called data visualization, and it is a crucial concept for IT and other business leaders to learn. Graphs are an age-old data visualization tool that at first might seem like a stale choice for presentations. However, advancements in data and graphing tools continue to make them relevant and valuable. How presenters utilize them is more important.
Now, graphs can visualize information in real-time and can be used to interact with audiences. When proposing new strategy or other business changes, it is important to visualize the difference that those changes could make. Interactive graphs could be manipulated to display past, present, and predicted future data sets. There are a number of online collaboration tools like Google Charts and infogr.am that individuals can use to create interactive graphics cost-effectively.

Animated Slideshows and Videos

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but a video can be worth a million. At least, that is what many studies and statistics suggest. In fact, one study from Forrester research claims that a video is worth about 1.8 million words. Also, people are fascinated by video, consuming hundreds of millions hours of it on Youtube everyday.
As a visual aid, certain short videos can be powerful. Videos of user testimonials or demos of products help reinforce what the presenter is saying and add a human touch to simple data points. Of course, when used as part of a presentation, video should only be a supplement. The speaker should be the primary source of information and discourse. If you could present the same information in a video in your presentation, you probably shouldn’t rely on it.
Speaking to an audience can be stressful for even the most experienced presenters, and today, it can be more difficult to captivate an audience. However, incorporating creative, interactive visuals into your presentations can help improve understanding and keep your audience engaged from beginning to end.

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Experienced presenters know that how we give a presentation can change slightly, depending on the objectives and the audience. For example, the commencement speech given at a college graduation will be very different than a sales pitch given to a boardroom full of potential investors.
Although certain elements may alter each time we present, we each have our own unique style. Knowing which style you tend to lean towards can help individuals become more self-aware and improve future presentations.

The Innovator

creativity-819371_640
Innovators are visionaries that are full of big ideas. When appropriate, they will incorporate creative visuals and the latest technology like wireless presentation software or gadgets like smartwatches in their presentations. At times, they can feel uncomfortable about public speaking, but their passion for what they are discussing often outweighs any initial discomfort.
They often bring an energy and enthusiasm that can spread to audience members. However, their big ideas often mean change. Some individuals may be more hesitant to jump on board with those changes, especially if they fail to include data and real examples that support their argument.

The Storyteller

library-425730_640
When they are in front of a crowd, storytellers feel like they are not just speaking to but performing for them. It is generally easier for them to captivate an audience just with their words, because they are natural entertainers. They often appeal to an individual’s pathos, or emotions.
However, some may struggle to stay “on track” and organized. They may get too immersed in a story that they run overtime or fail to support points with hard data. Storytellers should practice timing beforehand and incorporate data to support their points for audience members that are more logical thinkers.

The Thinker

thinking-767040_640
Thinkers may not be viewed as the most naturally talented speakers, however, some tactics used by thinkers can prove very effective. Thinkers are rationalists, they excel at understanding cause and effect scenarios and other data-based information.
Some may struggle with explaining those concepts to audiences. However, with practice, thinkers can become great teachers and speakers. Thinkers should analyze their presentations beforehand to ensure that they are relatable to different individuals. They can use online collaboration tools or conduct a test run beforehand to receive feedback.

The Organizer

drink-864958_640
Organizers may be more comfortable behind-the-scenes rather than in the limelight. However, when necessary, they rise to the challenge of speaking to crowds. Their presentations are well-prepared and carefully constructed from beginning to end. They excel at creating content with an objective in mind and structure presentations so that they are easy to understand.
However, they may rely too heavily on prepared materials and find it hard to react to unexpected situations. Sometimes, presenters may need to improvise and change tactics if technology fails, the audience doesn’t react, or another problem arises. Organizers should anticipate possible issues and be willing to adjust their tactics when appropriate.

The Diplomat

entrepreneur-593362_640
Diplomats are usually great improvisers because they are aware of their surroundings and audience feelings. They genuinely care about audience reactions and feelings and are likely to win over trust. Their presentations are often more of a dialogue, with them interacting with the audience at different moments throughout.
Diplomats’ desire to please people could interfere with achieving objectives, however. Speakers should start a presentation with their objectives in mind. Interacting with the audience is a great way to maintain engagement, but diplomats should practice managing time to avoid running out of it before they have finished.
We each may have our own unique style of presenting, however, certain situations may require us to adjust it. The most successful presenters can adapt to the audience and subject matter. They Incorporate aspects of each presentation style to connect with audiences, enhance understanding, and achieve their objectives.