Guidelines to Achieve a Professional Visual Presentation

Presentations can be difficult at the best of times when there is a lot riding on the result, so the last thing you want to be worrying about is the audio visual component. In this articles I will present some basic guidelines that will help you set the room layout so you can achieve the highest quality projection from your presentation.

General Guide-Lines


  • For optimum viewing, the audience should be seated within:
  • +30 degrees of a line perpendicular to the screen’s centre.
  • They should be seated no closer then twice the image height.

Note: (If this is not possible perhaps consider multiple viewing options for the audience).

Type of Content

  • Entertainment – The last row should be no further than eight times the image height.
  • Corporate – The last row should be to six times the image height.
  • Critical Applications – The last row should be four times the image height

Setting the Screen

To avoid obstruction of viewing he bottom of the screen should be approximately four feet (1200mm) above the floor. If the seating is staggered, or if the floor is raked you can adjust this accordingly. Try and avoid setting the screen to high. The ergonomics associated with comfortable viewing indicate no viewer should have to rotate their head more than +30 degrees from straight ahead, or tilt their head no more than 25degrees from horizontal.


The design of the seating is very important so viewers can gain full sight of the projection. Often the staggered seating arrangement is best suited for most situations. Overall they must be in rows, with a minimum unobstructed horizontal clearance between plumb lines from the front of an unoccupied seat to the back of the seat in front. This clearance may vary, but is typically 16 inches (400mm). Aisles must be provided so that there are no more than seven seats between any one seat and an aisle. The entry and exit doors need to be take into account when designing the layout of the seating. The layout needs to designed to:

  • Allow for easy of enter into the room
  • Allow for quick exit in the event of an emergency
  • The row contains no more than 100 seats;
  • Each doorway serves no more than three rows.
  • Aisles must terminate in a cross-aisle.

Front or Rear Projection?

There are a variety of factors that can determine whether front or rear projections are best suited for your presentations.

Front Projection

  • Front Projection can generally provide a wider viewing-angle than rear projection. It requires: Controlled lighting (ambient light must be kept off the screen to eliminate a reduction in contrast ratio).
  • Requires either a projection room at the rear of the theatre, or a platform or mount for the projector(s) out in the theatre. Note that this latter is a potential noise source.
  • The projection geometry must be carefully worked out to get the best compromise between image keystoning and blockage of the light path by the audience.
  • Must be accessible for maintenance. A projection booth must be dust free (positive pressure preferred), and have adequate ventilation.

Rear Projection

  • Rear Projection Generally has a narrower viewing-angle than front projection – better for long, narrow rooms.
  • Can be viewed with higher levels of room illumination, and is less immune to “wash out” by ambient lighting.
  • Available in flexible & rigid materials. A rigid screen is more expensive than a front projection screen, and has size restrictions.
  • Requires space behind the screen. Mirrors may be used to reduce the required depth. Must be accessible for maintenance.
  • Rear projection room must be dust free, and have adequate ventilation.

To decide whether front or rear projection will enhance your presentation, ask yourself ‘What type of presentation do I want to give’ and “What is the purpose of the presentation’. If for example the presentation is “canned” you can consider either front or rear projection. If a live talker is interacting with the presentation, rear projection is best so that the speaker can interact with the images without being in the projector’s light path. In addition, the higher allowable room illumination allows for note-taking, etc.

Screen Width

Determine your minimum screen height based on the distance to your farthest viewer and your ceiling height. This figure may be adjusted based on the application (e.g.: an entertainment application will require a larger than minimum size screen for impact).

ADA Requirements

Where required arrangements will need to be made for attendees who require wheelchair access, and/or who have visual or hearing impairments The accessibility and size of these spaces is defined as:

A minimum number of aisle seats will be required to have either no aisle-side armrest or an aisle-side armrest that folds up. Certain additional signage may be required. Your sound system will require the addition of a hearing-assisted system. Your emergency systems may require the addition of strobe signals or visual messaging systems. Your video and other visual presentation systems may require captioning.

Miscellaneous Considerations

Equipment location

Is very important to avoid any damage. This is usually, but not always, located at the projector(s). This equipment may include projection controllers, a show controller, video equipment, and audio equipment.

Adequate power supply

Don’t forget to provide adequate electrical power for this equipment and the projector(s). Don’t forget to allow conduit for speaker cables, control signals, etc. For boardrooms and meeting rooms you will also want to provide accessible sources (such as VCR’s and DVD players).

Aesthetics or Theme

  • Does it require the loudspeakers and other equipment be concealed?
  • How is the presentation started?
  • Automatically,
  • Audience-demand,
  • Host-demand, and live presenter (may require random-access control or other interactivity).

Whether your presentation is for the boss or for a large corporation, taking a moment to plan how you would like to deliver the information can make a significant difference to your audience. So take a moment a review what you are wanting to say, how you would like to say it and how is the best way for your audience to receive it. It could make the difference between wining that new job or losing it.