AV Guy Sleeping.jpg

It has been my privilege to work with some of the finest A/V guys (and girls) from all over the country. In my vast experience, I have gleaned a few traits common to the A/V community, regardless of their geographic location or religious orientation.

For instance, imagine if you will, the following scenario: You are presenting your life’s work in a conference room of a 5 star hotel. Your caramel voice is resonating through the state-of-the-art sound system. You are a god in your field. For those of us who salivate at the phrase “PET/CT Acquisition and Diagnostic CT Protocol,” your talk is riveting. This lecture is a victory; another proverbial notch in your lipstick case.

But after you finish your lecture, you make the fatal mistake of strolling to the back of the room to ask your A/V guy if perhaps he thought you spoke too quickly. You are immediately met with a blank stare that makes you wonder if you spoke backwards. Don’t be alarmed. It’s just that your A/V guy doesn’t listen to your lecture.

You may be a bit confused. Your A/V guy raised the lights when you asked. He muted the microphone when you started coughing. He brought a glass of water to you when you asked. That’s because your A/V guy has been trained to focus in on keywords. It’s similar to how your brain filters out a lot of the city sounds that it deems unnecessary for your survival (random car horns or requests for spare change) but lets in other more useful sounds (spare change falling on sidewalk or guy trying to sell you weed).

If your brain informed you of every sound your ears encountered, you wouldn’t get anything done. Your A/V guy’s brain has evolved in the same manner. By focusing in on these keywords and filtering out the non essentials, your A/V guy can finish compiling his guitar tablature to Van Halen’s Diver Down by the coffee break.

Some keywords that will trigger your A/V guy’s attention may include: lights, laser pointer, water, microphone, battery, focus, in summary, free boxed lunch, defibrillator, adjourn early.

If you play a funny internet video in your lecture, you will have your A/V guy’s full attention. He will not care that the video has no relevance to your talk (he’s not listening to your lecture, remember?). If you include a joke in your talk, your A/V guy will likely tune in to see if the joke bombs. However, if you make extensive use of graphs and charts in your lecture, your A/V guy will organize his email inbox. If you mention the Framingham Heart Study or the phrase “downstream revenue,” your A/V guy may leave the room and not return.

In summary, don’t be offended to find your A/V guy sitting in the back of the room wearing his noise canceling headphones. That your A/V guy prefers to watch Season 1 of the Venture Bros. rather than a 14-foot brain MRI projected in the front of the room, is in no way a reflection on you or your life’s work. Besides, it would have been painfully obvious to your A/V guy that the MRI was positive for Sarcoidosis, NOT Multiple Sclerosis.

photo by Arman Christoff Boyles

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