Know Your Audience, #AVtweeps

I shared this joke earlier today on Twitter, during an #AVinTheAM online chat:

“An Architect, an IT Director, and an AV Professional walk into a bar…

[The AV Professional could be a consultant, integrator, or manufacturer]

The Architect orders a Vodka Sour, the IT Director orders a Rum and Coke,

The AV Professional says they need to standardize their user experiences,

orders three Long Island Ice Teas, and then asks, ‘who’s paying for these?'”

I hope I don’t offend any architects or IT people with my humor, the joke is really on the AV professional. He or she may think they are making both the Architect and the IT Director happy, by incorporating both their drink ideas into the triple order of Long Islands. There are many roads this joke could lead us, but today, we will talk about knowing your audience when meeting about an AV project.

In practice, meetings with architecture firms, IT departments, music ministry leaders, fitness instructors, technical directors, general contractors, or higher education universities, have some similarities, but each group has their own priorities and lingo.

Dropping lofty buzzwords like “user experience” and “agile workspaces” may not be as effective as using the words that they use; ask about their typical meetings, or classes, rehearsals, services. You are basically asking them about the current user experience, but in their words.  Ask them what meeting spaces are the most popular, and why.

Discuss any trends you are seeing in flexible work or education environments. Ask them if they have any divide/combine spaces, but instead, use the term “airwalls”. How often do these rooms get combined or separated? How do the systems work when combined or separated? And how well do they work for the typical room usage?

If you discussing a church, house of worship, or auditorium, say “sound board” when asking them about the FOH (Front of House) mixing position. See what I did there?

If a client or work contact uses an acronym you don’t recognize, don’t be afraid to ask them what it means, to them. Don’t assume they know your acronyms either.  You might say OMP meaning Operations & Maintenance Plan, and they may instead hear:

Office Managing Partner

Occupational Maternity Pay

Open Market Purchase

or a dozen other meanings for the acronym OMP.

And if you audience includes Millennials, they may think, for a second, that you meant

One Moment Please

because that is how OMP is used in SMS messaging and other text chat platforms! So don’t be afraid to spell out your acronyms and ask them about theirs. Some companies have so many acronyms that they develop a glossary page for them. Ask for a copy!

The other thing to ask about early on is timeline.  Architects and consultants will use acronyms like SD, DD, and CD to describe the Schematic Design, Design Development, and Construction Document phases of their drawing sets. Owners and end-users are more concerned with the commissioning and occupancy. Each has its own deadline.

What if you are going to a meeting with an architect, owner’s rep, IT department head, furniture vendor, plus various engineers from other trades?  Who are the others in the room? How do you know your audience if you have never met any of them?

Do your homework. Start with the meeting planner, and then the other people invited, looking up each one on LinkedIn or Google.  Look at their current job descriptions, but also at their work history, where they went to school; what did they study?  Read their most recent posts, and ask yourself, what drives them? Whenever possible, ask your coworkers if they have ever worked with the other people invited to the meeting.

When the meeting starts, try to quietly jot down the names of any “special guests” you may not have anticipated, and then look them up on LinkedIn or Google afterwards. Ask for business cards for anyone who has one, especially any electrical engineers.  You need to keep your coordination within proper channels, by communicating through the client, the architect or project manager, but you can address them by name in your correspondence, “Following up on the question raised by XYZ…”

Circling back to the joke I made about the architect, IT director, and the AV professional: all are highly technical people, but with different strengths. The IT Director may be able to talk at length about bandwidth, IP addresses, firewalls, and cyber-security, while the architect may be more concerned with determining the electrical and backing needs, and the BTU load of the AV racks, so they can coordinate with their HVAC and MEP engineers.  Furniture vendors need to know what holes to provide in the tables for microphones and table boxes.  They all love dimensions!  Coordinate using AutoCAD or Revit, or markup PDFs using Bluebeam or similar.

By determining your audience in advance (or during a meeting, or sometimes after) you can tailor your communique and deliverable to each, making each one happy. You might also find yourself being a bridge between different people involved in a project. By speaking their own dialects, you can connect them like the boroughs of Manhattan.

And maybe Long Island :)

Photo of the Brooklyn Bridge by Paul Konikowski
Photo of the Brooklyn Bridge by Paul Konikowski

If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy these other articles on PKaudiovisual.com:

Technology and Green Buildings

Your Conference Rooms Are So Trendy!

The Anatomy of an AV Integration Project

Resume of Paul Konikowski, CTS-D

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My Do’s And Don’ts Of LinkedIn Profile Photos

If you are between the ages of 25 and 55, then chances are, you probably already have a LinkedIn Profile.  And chances are, you probably don’t think about it very often, unless you are job hunting (in which case, you may be updating your profile almost daily.)

Most people only update their work experience or skills when they revise their LinkedIn profile. More savvy B2B folks find ways to optimize their LinkedIn profile so that they rank higher in the LinkedIn Search results.  Others may ask for recommendations from former coworkers or clients.  But how much time and thought did they put into their LinkedIn profile photo?  My guess is most people have not thought about their photo since the day they uploaded it. How many times have you changed your photo?

LinkedIn has published guidelines for profile photos, but unless you are posting your company logo, your tagline, your favorite animal, or landscape, they will pretty much accept any photo as long as you are in it. If you break their easy-to-meet guidelines three times, they supposedly will not let you upload any more profile photos. However, I have seen some profiles of people who somehow got around this rule, and have a pet as their profile photo.  My guess is they uploaded the photo before the rules were created or enforced, and now they are essentially ‘grandfathered in’ (or would it be, ‘grandfather-Linked-In’?)

Remember that the FIRST thing someone sees when you show up in a LinkedIn search, or “People You May Know”, is your photo, and those first impressions count!  Yet for most people, the profile photo is the LAST thing they worry about!  So what kind of photo makes a good LinkedIn profile photo?  What makes for a bad one?

Here is my short list of Do’s and Don’ts of LinkedIn profile photos:

1. DON’T use your wedding photo, or a photo someone took of you while you were attending someone else’s wedding.  These are far too common and very easy to spot. Will you be wearing that tuxedo or strapless dress to your next interview?  Dapper!

Black and white professional headshot
My professional headshot in black and white

2. DO yourself a favor and get a professional headshot taken at least once every 5 years. No one likes meeting an older version of you after they saw the younger you online. Request a full color headshot and a black and white version of the same photo.  Beyond your LinkedIn profile, its good to have “your best face” on hand for other reasons like company newsletters, bylined articles, online dating sites, obituaries … “you never know when you are going to go” is my motto.  Might as well be ready for it.

3. DON’T use a photo that is obviously a cropped photo of you and someone else.  This is just as common as the wedding photos and drives me berserk!  Just because you were wearing a tie that day does not mean you look professional.  You look sweaty! And if you are going to crop out other people, you should also crop out that drink in your hand.

Example of cropped photo taken at a wedding
Cropped photo taken at a wedding

4. DO make sure to smile in your LinkedIn profile photo. Just like dating sites, people on LinkedIn want to work with happy people. Save your Resting Bitch Face for after you get the gig.

#LMRBFO = Laughing My Resting Bitch Face Off
#LMRBFO = Laughing My Resting Bitch Face Off

5. DON’T keep your profile photo blank.  If you don’t have a profile photo yet, then you probably should not have a public profile yet either.  No one wants to work with a ghost.  Plus, without a photo, how can the people you have previously worked with know that its actually you, and not someone pretending to be you?

6. DO include other items in your profile photo that are relevant to your career.  For example, if you are an audio engineer who typically works at concerts, then a photo of you standing next to a huge audio mixing console certainly adds value to your online resume.  It says “yes, I have done this before, so I am qualified”.  Or if you are a bowling coach, its okay to have bowling ball in hand.

7. DON’T wear sunglasses. Hey, I understand where you are coming from: I think I look better in sunglasses too, but its not appropriate on a professional networking site. Your eyes are the window to your soul, and by wearing sunglasses, you just closed the shades. The one exception to this would be if the person was visually impaired, or if they wear prescription glasses that transition to sunglasses in sunlight.  Also, if you use a photo taken outdoors, make sure your face is clearly visible.  Oftentimes, outdoor photos have too much contrast between the sunlight and shadows.

Sunglasses and Dreadlocks
Would you hire this shady dude?  I sure wouldn’t.

8. DO wear something that resembles what you would typically wear to your job on a day to day basis.  No wedding dresses, no hats, no tie-dyed shirts, no sports attire.  I don’t care how much you love your team; there are people on LinkedIn who do not.  Why jeopardize your career just because you are still bitter that the Hartford Whalers moved to North Carolina in 1997, and left Connecticut without any major sports team?  Not cool, Whalers!

9. DON’T have a coworker, friend, or family member take a photo of you using their mobile phone camera, standing in front of a wall or a tree.  Unless you are the photogenic type, these types of photos will never be as good as a professional headshot.  AND NO SELFIES. NO EXCEPTIONS.

Photo taken on Easter
Photo taken by my friend on Easter

10. DO make yourself stand out, but be careful: this can be a double-edged sword.  You may be wearing a t-shirt that says something funny in your photo, but others may not get the joke.  Better to use a photo from that time you went sky diving, or snorkeling.  These types of “adventure photos” will create instant conversation when you connect with someone new on LinkedIn. Photos of you receiving an award also show you are valuable.

Hopefully by now, you ‘get the picture’.  By putting a little extra time, effort, and yes, a little money into your LinkedIn profile, you will be sure to be putting your best business face forward, and your online resume will be much more professional. First impressions are everything, and online, that impression is limited to your profile photos.

Additional advice on LinkedIn:

https://pkaudiovisual.com/2014/02/05/social-media-networking/

If we are not yet connected on LinkedIn, here is my profile:
http://www.linkedin.com/in/pkaudiovisual/

2014 Is All About The Video

Sorry Audiophiles: It’s All About The Video

By Paul Konikowski, CTS-D

Last week, rumors surfaced that Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) is secretly developing modular, large-scale video displays.  Yes, you heard me right:  Google is reportedly making their own video walls.  This should be of no shock to anyone in the so-called “audiovisual industry” which has been completely taken over by the so-called A.V./ I.T. convergence.  In the past few years, both AV and IT have become caught up in the Enterprise Technology sector, while the consumer electronics have themselves caught up in terms of resolution and cost.  Nowadays, audio and video are often considered to be two Things in the much larger Internet of Things (or I.o.T. if you are into the whole brevity thing). Personally, I hate using the term Internet of Things, but I am just one Voice of Reason, and I am outvoted.

Many television news studios and even Dr. Phil are investing in large-scale, multi-touch sensing video walls, much like those that Google is supposedly developing.  But there are plenty other examples besides these large touch/video displays that illustrate why 2014 is turning out to be the Year of Video.

If you or a family member is on Facebook, you must have seen at least one, if not one hundred, ice bucket challenge videos.  The ice bucket challenge trend signaled not only a change in social media marketing for non-profits, but on a more basic level, it was a perfect example of what I call the “new” Facebook news feed; have you noticed that roughly half of your Facebook feed is now composed of videos? Why did you think the ice bucket challenge was such a viral phenomenon? Also, did you notice how these videos will auto-play, unless you tell Facebook not to autoplay videos?  Keep an eye on your data plan.

Twitter has big plans for video too.  Very soon, Twitter and Facebook will both turn into a combination of video ads, movie previews, political satires, short films, or tv-like series.  Sure, these sort of video trends have been around for years on YouTube, but now that they are major parts of the Facebook and Twitter news feeds, a lot more people will be seeing a lot more videos on a daily basis.  And media companies will quickly learn that video is the new way to capture an online audience, while engaging their own networks.

ESPN, which is owned by Disney Time Warner (NYSE:DIS) recently played Let’s Make A Deal with the NBA to allow live streaming over-the-top (a.k.a. OTT) meaning end users will soon be able to watch NBA using a set-top box or similar streaming player.  No cable, satellite, or TV antenna needed, just internet access.

Soon, sports clips and reality show fights will be uploaded instantly, and there will be more and more live voting and audience polls.  Video clips on Facebook and Twitter combined with a “buy” button means users can click to view the full feature movies or instantly buy the products they are advertising. Twitter also has a deal with Comcast, if your friends are tweeting about a certain reality show or breaking news, you could hypothetically just watch the show inside Twitter’s main feed. But wait there is a twist: the two contestants who have the least amount of internet bandwidth will be voted off of the show; the rest of you are safe.

$GPROWhere will all of this new video content come from, anyway?  Well the obvious answer is the zillions of mobile phones and tablets, many of which come with “decent” digital cameras / video camcorders, and with the right steady cam, tripod, or selfie-stick, just about anyone with a decent smart phone can make a video and upload it to their social networks.

For folks who want a so-called “real camera”, GoPRO just announced some new models including the HERO 4, which combined with the new LiveStream application, will allow live GoPro streaming live to the web, with just an Iphone.  If GoPro’s stock ticker is any indication, it looks like their new cameras may be the big hit this holiday season. NASDAQ:GPRO up 200% in just over 3 months since it began publically trading. Other video related stocks that are riding this video trend include GoPro component maker Ambarella (NASDAQ:AMBA) up 29% Year To Date (YTD),  Digital Ally Inc. (NASDAQ:DGLY) who make law enforcement cameras, is up 58% YTD; and last but not least Mobile Eye NV (NYSE:MBLY), a video technology that helps automobiles stay in their lanes and avoid collisions, is up 42% YTD.

In closing, I just want to be clear on a few things.  First, I currently own stock in GoPro. Second, I am not a financial advisor. and you should do your own due diligence before investing in any stock.   And last but not least, I just want to say that I don’t know if this trend towards more amateur video is necessarily a “good thing” for social media, for society, or for the video professionals of the world.  But I do believe that if so-called AV professionals can adapt to this new consumer trend in video, that we can then offer more value to more potential customers,

We will see if I am right.