One of the most common questions for Tech Field Day presenters is how the room should be set up. Over the years of presenting Field Day events, we have learned just how important it is to have the right setting for a presentation: Classroom-style tables stifle conversation, as do too-large rooms and excessive chairs. This article is intended to help our presenters prepare the right room for the Field Day audience.
Room Setup Basics
Field Day takes up more space than most organizers realize. Although there are only a dozen delegates in the room, we also bring along a two-person video crew and two Field Day staff. Plus, of course, the presenters and staff from the presenting company need chairs, tables and power!
For this reason, we recommend a minimum 600 square feet (55 square meters) for a Field Day presentation room. This provides sufficient space for our U-shaped table setup, delegates, staff, and presenters. A larger room is better, within reason. But if your room is larger than 1000 square feet (100 square meters), it’s best to set up some partitions or pop-up signs to keep everyone together.
Don’t push the table too far back from the presenters, either. We want an intimate space where everyone can join in to the conversation, and a lecture-style setting discourages discussion. Many presenters forego a lectern or push it to the side so they can better engage with the delegates.
For demonstrations, have the presenter sit at the table with the delegates. This encourages discussion at a time that can feel very quiet and reserved.
Make sure there is sufficient space and power for a laptop and a few electronic devices per delegate, too. It’s best to have at least 24 empty outlets distributed around the table so delegates can plug in without stretching too far across the floor. And the video team and staff will need space and power, too.
One of the key elements of Field Day is the live video stream. This requires a hard-wired Ethernet drop with at least 5 mbps upload speed. Wi-Fi just doesn’t work as reliably for video streaming, and make sure your firewall doesn’t block or throttle outbound traffic. The delegates and staff can use Wi-Fi, but make sure to set it up ahead of time so they don’t have to go through a complicated registration process.
We have three wireless lapel microphones and one wireless stick microphone for the presenters. The delegates use hard-wired lapel microphones for optimal audio quality. Two cameras at the back of the room are used to record the presenter and room, while a third camera at the center catches delegate reactions and comments.
A special video appliance captures HDMI or VGA from the laptop, sitting between it and the projector or TV. Make sure your demo and slides works at normal projector/TV resolution of 720p or 1024×768 or it won’t look good in the video recording either.
No matter what time of day, it’s best to have coffee, water, and light snacks for the delegates. Although they are literally tied to the table with their wired microphones, the Field Day staff often brings refreshments to the table during the presentation.
Make a printed paper agenda with a title, description, and presenter name for each portion of your presentation. Leave one for each delegate and two more for the video crew and staff. Include twitter ID’s and a photo for each presenter if possible.
Ideal Setup: Wide U-Shaped Table
The ideal Field Day presentation room features a wide U-shaped table with just enough seating for the delegates and presenters. The Field Day staff and video crew sit at separate tables at the back or side of the table, and additional guests from the presenting company sit along the side as well.
The U-shaped table brings all of the delegates into the conversation and leaves room for our video equipment and cables on the floor at the center. A wide U is better than a deep one, and it should be pushed forward in the room to reduce the distance between the speaker and the delegates.
Alternate Setup: Rectangular Table
If a U-shaped table is not possible or practical, a rectangular table will do. But make sure it’s large enough to fit 14 people comfortably. Note that there will be cables and equipment on the table at the center if a rectangular table is used: This won’t be very visible in the recording but does make the room look more cluttered.
The video team and Field Day staff can sit at the back of the room or to the side, but there must be room for the two rear cameras. Presenters and guests usually sit along the side so they can join the conversation if needed.